Vol. 46, No. 4

In this Edition

One of the challenges of publishing a quarterly journal is that you want to stay relevant to the issues of the moment without chasing the headlines of the day. This latest edition of THE RIPON FORUM is no different. 

“Today’s biggest problem is not ideology, but partisan politics.”

“Some in D.C. have lost the ability to disagree without being disagreeable – and that is unfortunate, because such heated rhetoric often stands in the way of compromise when it might otherwise be achieved.”

“Cooperation on issues does not mean compromising values.”

Kay Bailey Hutchison is retiring from Congress after 19 years in office leaving this word of advice for her colleagues, “You, the elected representatives of today, are just as smart, creative and patriotic as our ancestors and must take the mantle of responsibility to keep America strong.”

“There will have to be some courageous souls.”

Lugar Talks about Political Environment and Challenges Facing the Republican Party in Speech to The Ripon Society.

“Anger is not a substitute for good policy” – A Q&A with Jon Huntsman

An interview with the former governor, ambassador and presidential candidate about the current political environment and the challenges facing the country — and the Republican Party — in the coming years.

Breaking the Partisan Stranglehold

The Aspen Institute scholar and former Congressman discusses dysfunction in Washington and offers ideas for reform.

The New Electoral Math and What it Means for Polling

The man who Charlie Cook called “the one pollster Republicans should listen to” looks at the election results and what they mean for the GOP.

The GOP’s Forgotten Ones

A young Republican and former aide in the Bush White House argues that the GOP can no longer ignore young Americans.

Passing Tax Reform: The Devil is in the Deductions

“In recent days, the looming fiscal cliff has catapulted income tax base-broadening to the forefront of the tax policy debate. Fortunately, this is an area where Republicans and Democrats should be able to work together.”

The Longest War

A senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, talks on why the U.S. must not abandon Afghanistan even as it prepares to leave.

Ripon Society Marks Milestone

Coverage of a Dec. 11th reception The Ripon Society hosted to celebrate the season and mark the group’s 50th anniversary.

Ripon Profile of Cathy McMorris Rodgers

House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers talks about her new job as a member of Speaker John Boehner’s leadership team.

The GOP’s Forgotten Ones


Coming off the heels of an embarrassing defeat on November 6th, Republicans find themselves at an important philosophical crossroads.

In one direction is the party’s longtime foundation of older white voters. In the other direction is the new emerging American majority – one where minorities have increasing influence and young people are refusing to be left behind.

As a 27-year old Republican, I am at a loss for how my party got to this point. I am also tired of being on the defensive when others in my generation ask how I can be a member of such an ideologically rigid and intellectually inconsistent political group. Yet, the numbers paint a picture that is impossible to ignore.

President Obama captured 60 percent of the youth vote this election, and an overwhelming majority of Latinos, Asians, and African Americans voted against the GOP. These individuals weren’t just voting against the Republican Party’s candidates. They were voting against the party’s positions on issues that were of importance to them. Indeed, from comprehensive immigration reform, to same-sex marriage, to legalized marijuana, to abortion, my generation sent a clear message to Republican leaders this election – namely, that the party needs to offer us more than low taxes to win our vote.

I am at a loss for how my party got to this point. I am also tired of being on the defensive when others in my generation ask how I can be a member of such an ideologically rigid and intellectually inconsistent political group.

The same can be said for Latino Americans. President Reagan once said: “Hispanics are already Republican, they just don’t know it.” If our party cannot craft a message that can articulate that, then we’ll continue to see repeat performances from this past election. Many of today’s Republican leaders fail to grasp that symbols are potent forces in American politics, and the GOP’s hard-line stance on immigration reform has become a symbol of the party’s hostility to this important and growing demographic group. A prominent Latino polling group reports, for example, that as many as 31 percent of those surveyed would be more likely to consider voting Republican if the party eased its position on this issue and helped pass legislation leading to an easier pathway for citizenship. A version of the DREAM Act recently introduced by Republicans Senators Jon Kyl, Kay Bailey Hutchison and John McCain is a step in the right direction. But it will be the political equivalent of a tree falling in the forest if the Republican Leadership doesn’t get behind this bill or a similar proposal.

A wave is sweeping across the country on these and other issues. For the first time, Washington, Maryland, and Maine all approved same-sex marriage by a popular vote. These states joined six others — New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont — where same-sex marriage has already been made legal by a constitutional amendment. In another development, Colorado and Washington also became the first states to legalize the use of marijuana for recreational use.

While some Republicans are left puzzled by these developments and the electoral results as a whole, it is my hope that my party’s platform is amended to include those opinions and voices of my generation who refuse to be ignored. Without a reasonable attempt to meet non-white and young voters halfway on making logical changes to our nation’s immigration laws and a myriad of other social issues as well, I worry that I will be among the last of a dying breed of young, hopeful conservatives who once looked to the GOP as the party of reform.

Theodore Roosevelt once stated, “I was able to hold the Republican Party in power only because I insisted on a steady advance.” If the GOP is to maintain a “steady advance” into the future, then it must advance and pay heed to the message young and minority voters sent on November 6th.

The time for reform is upon us. The time to act is now.

Jarrad Hensley is the Deputy Editor of The Ripon Forum.