Latest RIPON FORUM Focuses on the Legacy of Jack Kemp and Why it Remains Relevant for Republicans Today

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Twenty five years after he announced his candidacy for President, THE RIPON FORUM focuses on the legacy of the late Jack Kemp, with a series of essays and an interview examining his policy positions, his political approach, and why both remain relevant for Republicans and the Nation today.

“On April 6, 1987,” writes blogger D.R. Tucker in the lead essay for the centrist Republican journal, “a 51-year old Republican from Buffalo, New York launched a bid to become the first Congressman elected President since James Garfield in 1880. His name was Jack Kemp, and his campaign for the White House lasted a mere 339 days … yet for many Republicans then, and many Republicans today, Kemp’s quest for the presidency remains something of a high water mark in their political lives – a moment when conservatism and progressivism came together in a campaign that sought not only to fulfill Ronald Reagan’s vision of America, but to expand and build upon it, too.

“It was a campaign geared around inclusion, growth and opportunity, and one that actively reached out to union members, minorities and other non-traditional GOP constituencies in search of votes. And at its center was Kemp, the son-of-a-truck-driver-turned-football hero-turned-U.S. Representative who would become one of the greatest warriors the American conservative movement has ever known.”

In addition to Tucker, who operates a Massachusetts-based blog called The Urban Right that is “dedicated to Jack Kemp’s Unfinished Work,” the latest FORUM also features an interview with veteran political consultantEd Rollins, who served as Chairman of Kemp’s 1988 presidential campaign and, among other things, discusses Kemp’s qualities as a candidate that drew him to the campaign.

“Kemp was a big idea guy,” states Rollins. “He had great appeal to young voters. Jack was always about broadening the base of the Party. He did this by reaching out to African Americans, Hispanics, and blue collar workers. I always knew his election possibilities were an uphill battle, but I wanted — as did he — to make the Republican Party a party for working people, not just Wall Street and country club Republicans. He also had great energy and empathy for the little guy that appealed to me.”

Also writing for the latest edition of the FORUM is former Oklahoma Congressman and Hall of Fame Wide Receiver Steve Largent, who not only discusses how life on the gridiron contributed to Kemp’s fearlessness in his post-NFL political life, but also discusses an encounter he had with Kemp during a challenging time in his own political career. “I was fortunate to learn first-hand about Jack’s impeccable timing and tremendous empathy, which were also honed on the football field,” writes Largent, who now serves as President and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association.

“I ran into him shortly after I had been defeated in my run for House Majority Leader, an event that occurred in a rather tumultuous time in the Republican Party’s congressional history. Perhaps sensing more disappointment than I was willing to let on, Jack ended our conversation by quoting one of my favorite historical figures, Sir Winston Churchill. He told me, ‘Steve, I want you to remember that success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’”

Also looking back on the life of Jack Kemp is one of his closest allies on Capitol Hill – U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren of California, who discusses the qualities that set his friend apart, and identifies Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as Kemp’s modern-day political heir. Writes Lungren: “Jack’s love of the intellectual debate, respect for opponents’ differing views and yet cheerful belief in the powers of persuasion now mark Paul Ryan’s notable achievements as a leading member of the current Congress.”

Other authors and issues appearing in the latest edition of the FORUM include:

  • House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline — writing about the effort he is leading to make sure today’s workers are prepared for tomorrow’s job opportunities.
  • Former Oregon Senator Bob Packwood – writing about the tax reform debate of 1986 and its lessons for today.
  • Economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin – writing about the American Jobs Machine and why the lack of job growth in American is attributable to recent policy errors.
  • Dr. Merrill Matthews with the Institute for Policy Innovation – suggesting some positive solutions for immigration reform.
  • Author and Georgetown History Professor Joseph McCartin – writing about Ronald Reagan’s confrontation with the PATCO union in 1981 and his decision to fire 11,000 air traffic controllers after they went out on strike.
  • Mark Calabria of the Cato Insitute – writing about the lack of accountability at the SEC and the fact that 33 employees who were caught watching pornography on federal computers are still on the job.

In addition, the latest edition of THE RIPON FORUM also features a profile of freshman South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem, who looks back on her first year in office and, among other things, talks about the fact that she recently earned her college degree. 

The Ripon Society is a public policy organization that was founded in 1962 and takes its name from the town where the Republican Party was born in 1854 – Ripon, Wisconsin. One of the main goals of The Ripon Society is to promote the ideas and principles that have made America great and contributed to the GOP’s success. These ideas include keeping our nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is smaller, smarter and more accountable to the people.