Vol. 40, No. 3

A Note from the Chairman

From the moment the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001, Americans have known that we were in a different kind of war. But in at least one respect, the war we are fighting today bears some resemblance to wars we have fought in the past.

Branding America

After nearly five years, we no longer remember all their names. But we remember their faces. And we will never forget their eyes. They are the eyes of killers. They are the eyes of the 19 hijackers who commandeered four planes on September 11, 2001, taking the lives of over 3,000 people and taking us […]

Karen Hughes’ Challenge

Since Sept. 11 , 2001, it has become commonplace to say that the United States is engaged in a war of ideas for the hearts and minds of moderate Muslims. Even Donald Rumsfeld has admitted that the metric for measuring success in a war against jihadist terrorism is whether the numbers we kill or deter […]

On the Frontlines of Freedom

Today on the world stage, particularly in Muslim nations, our military is too often viewed only as the enemy, a disturbing fact not lost on those who now wear the uniform. Make no mistake — death and violence are products of any war. But lost within today’s highly partisan environment are such deeply held goals […]

Madison Avenue’s Take on Brand America

If any country in the world can be viewed as a brand, it’s America. After all, we invented “branding.” So why, when we are the most powerful nation on earth and facing precarious times, can’t we leverage America’s brand assets? For inspiration and guidance, I returned to the basics of brand building that have worked […]

A View From Abroad

It is too late to walk or talk softly. The big stick—the enormous military might of the U.S.—bears its own ominous message, but the U.S. might try to promote its democratic ideals with more skill, conviction, and volume. Even the British, our most loyal consumers and faithful allies, are losing the faith, despite their relative […]

Q&A With Bill Thomas

Earlier this year, Congressman Bill Thomas announced his retirement after nearly 30 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. First elected in 1978, Thomas has served as Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee since 2001. He recently sat down with the Ripon Forum to discuss his experiences in politics and share his thoughts on […]

No More Mistakes

As the world becomes increasingly focused on Iran’s nuclear activities, we are once again looking to our intelligence to determine what those activities mean.

Russia Under Putin: Neither Friend Nor Foe

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his supporters were “outraged.” A Kremlin spokesperson denounced the speech as “inconceivable” and “subjective” in its interpretations of Russian internal affairs. Others in Moscow, as well as some in the West, called the speech a return to the Cold War. One Moscow headline suggested that U.S.-Russian relations were at their […]

How the Millennials Get Their News

Last year’s media coverage of the Gulf Coast hurricanes helped re-define the domestic political agenda leading into this year’s mid-term elections. But it wasn’t just storm coverage. Political damage control was in full effect, with elected officials from all sides of the political spectrum flocking to cable news channels to assuage public fears, tamp down […]

Immigration Reform: The Challenges Ahead

The immigration debate is at a fever pitch as the Ripon Forum goes to press. Only a fool would try to predict what will happen next, either in the Senate, which will probably vote this week, or in the skirmishing that could follow if lawmakers then move ahead to try to reconcile the Senate package […]

Back to the Moon… and Beyond!

A robust space exploration program is crucial to maintaining America’s scientific and technological preeminence in the twenty-first century. No other endeavor challenges us to develop innovative new technologies which often improve our quality of life, while simultaneously fulfilling the basic human need to explore new horizons.

Back to the Moon… But Let’s Fix NASA First

I believe that America – this time with her international partners – should go back to the moon.

The Back Page: Can you be a Republican and Still Like The Boss?

I got turned onto Bruce Springsteen the summer before my junior year in college. It was 1984. Born in the USA had come out on June 4th. And my friends and I were on a 10-day road trip to Florida before school started back up in the fall.

Ripon Profile of Susan Collins

I am a Republican because I believe in the core party principles of individual responsibility, personal liberty, federalism, and a strong national defense.

The Back Page: Can you be a Republican and Still Like The Boss?

I got turned onto Bruce Springsteen the summer before my junior year in college. It was 1984. Born in the USA had come out on June 4th. And my friends and I were on a 10-day road trip to Florida before school started back up in the fall.

My friend Mike was a Bruce fanatic. He had every album, bought every cassette, and, with the release of Born in the USA, bought the CD as well. It took about 19 hours each way to drive from our homes in Youngstown, Ohio, to where we were going in Naples, Florida. We must have listened to Bruce for half of that time.  By the time we got home, my other friends were sick of it. I, on the other hand, like my friend Mike, was hooked.

In the years since, I never became a Bruce fanatic; I’ve only seen him in concert once, and I only own a few of his CDs.  But I remain a fan. And when I hear his music – mainly his older stuff, and primarily the songs that won me over to begin with from Born in the USA – I rarely turn it off and nearly always turn it up. I like his songs for their rhythm and their beat.  But more than anything, I like them for their words.  Probably more any other songwriter, Bruce Springsteen tells stories I can relate to. Stories that remind me of growing up in Youngstown; of steel mills and high school dreams and trying to overcome all of life’s challenges that stand in your way.  In short, his songs inspire me.

"I believe in the love that you gave me. I believe in the faith that could save me. I believe in the hope and I pray that some day it will raise me above these Badlands." Bruce Springsteen

“I believe in the love that you gave me. I believe in the faith that could save me. I believe in the hope and I pray that some day it will raise me above these Badlands.”

In fact, his songs inspire me much the same way that Ronald Reagan inspired me when he ran for President in 1979.  He spoke in a language that I had never heard a politician speak before. I was 15 at the time; all I knew was Jimmy Carter; all I knew about were hostages and malaise.  Ronald Reagan came along and he spoke of hope. He spoke of faith. He spoke of making our country great again. I became a Republican the day he was inaugurated. And I remain a Republican to this day.

Which brings me to the point of this column, and brings me to the conflict that I, and I suspect many other Republicans, feel – mainly, how can you be a Republican and still like the Boss? After all, here is a man who actively campaigned for John Kerry in 2004, and has been sharply critical of President Bush, as recently as this past spring.  Bruce even snubbed Ronald Reagan during the campaign of 1984.  How can you – or anyone who has worked for and supported the Republican Party for the last quarter century — be a fan of someone who has worked for and contributed to that same party’s defeat?

The late conductor George Szell once said that, “In music one must think with the heart and feel with the brain.”  In politics, just the opposite is true — which is why, for many Republicans, being a fan of Bruce Springsteen means drawing a line between the intellectual reasoning and philosophy that has driven us to the GOP and the passion and inspiration his music makes us feel in our gut. It means saying you were “heartbroken,” by Bruce’s decision to campaign for Kerry – as Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota did on his radio show before the election – but still being able to say you are a fan of the Boss (as Governor Pawlenty says on his official website today). In short, it means being able to separate your heart and your head.

Truth be told, Bruce Springsteen does make me cringe at times. And he sometimes makes me mad.  No doubt, this is and will continue to be true for many other Republicans, as well. But he sure can sing, and, more importantly, he sure knows how to tell a story. 

Regardless of one’s political affiliation, it’s easy to be inspired by that.

Louis M. Zickar is the Editor of the Ripon Forum.