The Ripon Forum

Volume 48, No. 3

September 2014

In this edition

By on September 19, 2014

Twenty years ago this fall, 367 Republican candidates from all around the country gathered on the West Front steps of the U.S. Capitol and signed the Contract with America.  At the time, it was an historic moment because it helped give Republicans control of Congress for the first time in four decades.  

Today, it is a moment worth remembering because it was also a time when the GOP loudly and proudly proclaimed not what they stood against, but what they stood for.  We mark the anniversary of the Contract and its signing in this latest edition of The Ripon Forum with a series of essays that look at its impact on the 1994 mid-term elections, and its relevance to the mid-term elections this fall. 

Our authors include: former GOP Deputy Whip Bob Walker, who writes about the genesis of the Contract and how the ideas included in the document were developed in a series of weekly meetings that were held throughout the 1980s on Capitol Hill; Republican strategist David Winston, who writes about the fact that the Contract took Republicans down a radically different path in their campaigns, one that nationalized their election and presented them with a positive message to embrace; and, veteran Congressional and Presidential advisor Barry Jackson, who served as Executive Director of the Contract and writes about the model for campaigning – and governance – that it provided then and continues to provide for Republicans today.

This latest edition of the Forum also includes a Q&A interview with former Governor Haley Barbour, who as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, helped market and develop the ideas that were included in the Contract and, in doing so, helped the secure the GOP victory that year.  

To the extent that there are those who claim that Republicans don’t have a positive message to run on this fall and are simply the party of “no,” this edition of the Forum also provides an alternative narrative to that claim by putting forward “A Contract for Today” – that is, a realistic agenda for the GOP to campaign on and govern with that is largely based on votes Republicans have cast and bills they have introduced over the past several years. 

One of the issues that will likely be near the top of any Republican agenda is energy. This edition of the Forum looks at the issue in depth with essays that examine America’s emergence as an energy superpower, the Republican Party’s legacy on conservation, and how the GOP can reclaim its leadership on the issue in the coming years. 

And in the latest Ripon Profile, Mike Pence discusses his record as the Governor of Indiana. It is a record that has helped make the Hoosier State one of the top states for business in America, and one that has, in the eyes of many, helped make the Governor a possible Presidential contender in 2016.

As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of the Forum, and encourage you to contact us with any thoughts or comments you may have.

Lou Zickar

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