Vol. 41, No. 6

A Note from the Chairman Emeritus

Branding is one of the hottest buzzwords in advertising circles. It’s catching on in political circles, as well. It’s easy to understand why.

The Republican Party and the Black Vote – A Q&A with J.C. Watts

The former Oklahoma Congressman and Chairman of the House Republican Conference has some strong words for his party over its efforts – or lack thereof – to win support among African American voters.

“Why I Am A Republican”

Amidst efforts to rebuild the GOP brand, the FORUM asked prominent Republicans to discuss why they joined the party and the issues they believe will be critical to its success in 2008.

Why Lincoln was a Republican

Abraham Lincoln’s decision to become a Republican had a greater impact on the GOP than any other decision in the party’s history. Why did he do it, and what does it mean to the party today?

Running on Iraq

All during the 2006 campaign, our Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, Congress and local offices knew that they were headed for the worst election for Republicans since Watergate.

The Youth Vote in 2008

Fact of the matter is that the voting behavior of young persons between the ages of 18-30 will likely decide the outcome of the 2008 election.

It’s More Than Just Words

The current problem is that many Republicans have chained themselves to a number of words that they use as incantations, somehow believing their repetition will guarantee them victory or protect them from defeat.

Why Silence can be Golden

In a campaign atmosphere like this, it may seem ridiculous to preach to the candidates the virtues of virtual silence.

Real Barometers of Success in Congress

Congress has been called the “broken branch” of our government. But is it still broken now that Democrats hold the majority on Capitol Hill?

Done on the Cheap

It must be recognized that the idea of 24/7 news coverage counts for little without the will to make meaningful use of of all that time and, significantly the resources to make that will a reality.

Economic Diversification

We need to acknowledge that many families that play by the rules still run the risk of economic ruin.

The Walls Have Fallen, but the Pillars Remain

by LOU ZICKAR The mood is indeed grim inside the Republican Party. It’s grim because the party is living in the house that Reagan built, but it’s trashed the place and the walls have fallen down. And now the house needs to be rebuilt. It needs to be restored. It needs to be renovated.

The Ripon Profile of Charlie Crist

We must govern with common sense, understanding that we are here to make a difference, not to mark time.

A Note from the Chairman Emeritus

Branding is one of the hottest buzzwords in advertising circles.  It’s catching on in political circles, as well. It’s easy to understand why.

You see, branding has to do with image repair and reputation management. In Washington, there’s been something of a demand for those two things of late. Polls are down on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and public distaste for partisan bickering is at an all time high. The mood is restless in the American countryside.  The yearning for change is real.

As both parties try to figure out how to handle this mood and prepare for the elections, we thought it would be helpful to ask a question that, we believe, is fundamental to the GOP brand and any effort to repair the party’s image. The question is why people become a Republican in the first place? What issues are driving them, and what do they think the party stands for today?

We asked this question of six prominent Republicans. The individuals we talked to serve at every level of government and work in the private sector, too. Two serve in Washington, while the rest live and work outside the Beltway. We hope you find what they say enlightening. We also hope you find interesting the rest of this special 2008 Primary Edition of The Ripon Forum.

Of course, any look at the Republican Party must also include a look at Abraham Lincoln, and we do so with an essay by Judge Frank Williams on Lincoln’s origins in the GOP. We also focus on the elements of good political communications with two experts on that topic – speechwriter Landon Parvin and strategist John Feehery. We consider the impact of Iraq on Northeast Republicans with New York pollster John McLaughlin. And we examine the youth vote and ask the $64,000 question – will this be the year they finally turn out?

We begin this edition, though, with a serious topic – the Republican Party’s relationship with African American voters.  According to former Congressman J.C. Watts, there is little to no relationship at all, which is why the GOP consistently loses the black vote and is alienating a potential constituency along the way.

As always, we would like to know what you think. Please email us at editor@riponsociety.org with your thoughts and views on anything you read or would like to see written in the Forum. 

Bill Frenzel
Chairman Emeritus
Ripon Society