The Ripon Forum

Volume 51, No. 6

December 2017

In this edition

By on December 8, 2017

For just over a decade now, the one recurring feature in every edition of The Ripon Forum has been a profile of a prominent Republican on our back page. The first of these Ripon Profiles, as we have called them, appeared in February 2006 and featured former Pennsylvania Congresswoman Melissa Hart. Additional profiles that year featured Maine Senator Susan Collins, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, and an up-and-coming Member of the House from Virginia named Eric Cantor.

To the extent that the Ripon Profile has been one of our most popular and consistent features over the past 10 years, we thought it would be a good time to publish a compilation of every profile that has appeared in our pages during that time. Between 2007 and 2017, we profiled a total of 21 members of the U.S. House, 12 members of the U.S. Senate, and 15 Governors from around the country. We also profiled the Chairman of the Republican National Committee (Michael Steele), and a business executive who was running for governor of California at the time (Meg Whitman). Some of these individuals, such as former Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell, are no longer in public office, while others, such as former Indiana Governor Mike Pence, have gone on to bigger and presumably better things.

The goal of these profiles has been to mix policy with personality – to be a sort of Dewar’s Profile for the political set. Most of the time, we succeeded; other times, we may have come up a bit short. The profile of Congressman Pat Meehan from this past April is an example of what this feature is intended to be. It is a mixture of humorous life lessons from Meehan’s first job as a caddy (“Stay clear of the golfers that throw clubs”) and sober observations about one of the great challenges facing America at this time (“The opioid crisis nationwide and in Pennsylvania in particular is staggering.”) Our profile of Congressman Kevin McCarthy from April 2007 is similarly notable because it captured the future Majority Leader at the beginning of his House career. When asked who inspired him as a child, the then-freshman lawmaker said: his mother (“because she is a strong Italian woman with an infectious laugh”); Satchel Paige (“because he not only was a pioneer for ending segregation in Major League Baseball, but was also one of the greatest pitchers in history”); and, Teddy Roosevelt (“because he was not afraid to lead.”) As for the issue facing America that no one was talking about at the time, the California Republican and one-time small businessman sounded many of the same themes he is sounding today. “Our innovators need less Washington regulations,” he declared, “and a tax code that keeps us competitive in a free market economy.”

If there has been one other goal of the Ripon Profile over the past decade, it has been to show that the Republican Party is, for the lack of a better term, not just a bunch of white guys in suits. That clearly has been an ever-increasing challenge in recent years. But at a time when men make up 91 percent of the House GOP Conference, it is worth noting that 44 percent of our Ripon Profiles — or 22 out of 50 — were dedicated to women.

The start of a new year is always a time for resolutions. So as we close out 2017 and look toward 2018, let all Republicans resolve to do more to reverse this trend and increase the number of women serving in the GOP. Politically, it will strengthen the party and make it more diverse. More parochially, it will provide this journal with a new generation of leaders to shine a light on in the years ahead.

As always, we appreciate your readership throughout this and every year, and welcome any thoughts or suggestions you may have.

Lou Zickar
Editor of The Ripon Forum

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