Newt Gingrich: No, Mayor Pete, Erasing Thomas Jefferson is Not the 'Right Thing To Do' | Opinion

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg listens to a question from the audience during a town hall with the Fox News Channel on May 18, 2019, in Claremont, New Hampshire. Sarah Rice/Getty Images

Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick warned us 35 years ago about "the Blame America First" crowd that Pete Buttigieg represents.

Despite the mayor's effort to seem moderate and appear quiet and nonthreatening, Buttigieg is as radical as anyone else in the Democratic presidential nominating process.

Mayor Buttigieg's anti-Americanism came out when he said on a radio interview that it was "the right thing to do" to remove former President Thomas Jefferson's name from Indiana's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. The venerable annual event has long been a leading fundraiser for state Democratic Party organizations. It is ironic that radical Democrats want to erase the name of the founder of their party.

That's right. In addition to authoring the Declaration of Independence in 1776 — one of Jefferson's greatest feats of influencing human history — a host of other key documents (and demanding the Bill of Rights to protect citizens from government), Jefferson actually founded the Democratic Party. It is the oldest continuing political organization in America and dates back to 1792.

So, 227 years after Jefferson helped found the Democratic Party, the new radicals believe he isn't fit to be in their company.

Buttigieg and the hard left-wing want to disassociate from the American founder who wrote the most radical statement of human rights in history. Jefferson rejected the power of kings, which had been the dominant form of government for thousands of years. He asserted that our rights come from God rather than men.

Buttigieg is apparently ashamed of a man who wrote: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." After 243 years, no other phrase has had a greater ability to limit government power — and the Democrats are no longer interested.

Of course, Bernie Sanders finds the Soviet model more attractive. Some Democratic radicals find the systems in Cuba, Venezuela, or China more attractive.

However, I think most Americans understand that if you believe in freedom, you must honor Jefferson, not Karl Marx; George Washington, not Fidel Castro; and Abraham Lincoln, not Xi Jinping.

Buttigieg is a shrewd politician and a savvy operator. He can tell which way the winds are blowing in a Democratic Party. It is increasingly dominated by its activist fringe — which seeks nothing less than a total erasure of America's history and reinterpretation of our country's founding values.

The effort to blacklist Jefferson shows that the Left's campaign against American history is not limited to Confederate war memorials and other low-hanging fruit. The Left's totalitarian desire to rewrite history extends to the very heart of our heritage and the very essence of the American idea.

Even Washington, the father of the nation himself, has been added to the chopping block as part of the liberal campaign to replace the ideals of America's founding with the "progressive" values that emerged from 1960s radicalism.

The danger represented by this campaign, with which Buttigieg so casually aligned himself, can scarcely be exaggerated.

The American Republic is the product of a group of visionaries, Jefferson prominent among them, who were willing to challenge the status quo of the 18th century. In the process, they provided a template for governing that continues to serve us well after more than two centuries.

The ideals that Jefferson articulated in the Declaration of Independence have guided and inspired this country throughout its history. To this day, they are still cherished by Americans of all political persuasions — including most Democratic voters.

It's true that Jefferson was a slave owner, as his detractors are always quick to point out, but it's equally true that Jefferson's vision of a society based on individual liberty and natural rights undergirded the philosophical case for abolishing slavery — which came about less than 40 years after his death. This is a legacy worth honoring, but the Democrats would sooner forget about Jefferson's contributions to our country entirely.

Today's Democratic Party, unfortunately, has strayed from Jeffersonian ideals in favor of a political philosophy that considers individual rights and freedoms a grave danger to its goal of transforming America into a politically correct society of self-censoring automatons who blindly follow the dictates of an all-powerful federal government.

This may not be exactly what Buttigieg had in mind, but when he embraced the calls to whitewash Jefferson's name from the Democratic Party's preeminent fundraising event, he aligned himself with the extremists who believe in the antithesis of America's founding principles.

By merely giving credence to such ideas, liberals such as Buttigieg are contributing to the unraveling of America's sense of itself. They threaten to undermine the freedom-loving consensus that has characterized this country since its founding.

Today's Democrats notoriously want nothing to do with the "deplorables " who won't go along with their march toward radicalism. That apparently includes Thomas Jefferson. Having already abandoned its traditional voter base, the Democratic Party is now abandoning itself.

Newt Gingrich was speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. He is now the host of the Newt's World podcast and the author of Trump's America: The Truth About Our Nation's Great Comeback. Follow him on Twitter: @NewtGingrich.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own.​​​​​​