Vol. 44, No. 4

Editor’s Note: In This Edition


Ripon Society Holds Post-Election Briefing to Review Mid-Term Results

WASHINGTON, DC — The Ripon Society hosted a breakfast briefing on Thursday, November 4th to review the results of the mid-term elections and discuss the reasons Republicans had, electorally speaking, one of the most successful years in the history of the GOP. The breakfast featured some of the leading political minds in Washington, including: Congressman […]

“What Do We Do Now?”

“Simple, unadorned ‘opposition’ is mistaken, from both the policy and political perspectives.”

“What Do We Do Now?”

“Stop this spending spree.”

“What Do We Do Now?”

“Extending tax cuts isn’t a political slogan – it’s an economic necessity to our country.”

“What Do We Do Now?”

“We expect Republicans to be focused on the People’s agenda, not the party’s agenda.”

“What Do We Do Now?”

“Be Brave.”

“What Do We Do Now?”

“This is the moment for Republicans to define our party once again…”

On This, We Can Agree

After a divisive election, the Maine Senator argues that Republicans must focus on the many issues that unite the party.

Working Together in a Partisan World

With Washington divided by the political extremes, the former New Jersey Governor makes the case for across-the-isle problem-solving.

A Recovery Shipwreck: Can it be avoided?

At one level, the politics and the economics of 2010 appear daunting. Pundits claim that the recent election will only divide government, the two major political parties can’t get along, and government shutdown will be the only real issue discussed.

Divorce and the Deficit Commission

Stacy relates the reasoning behind why voters divorced from the Democratic party to that of a marriage; “They divorced the Democratic Party over more than money. It was also the uncertainty caused by intrusive, coercive fiscal policies.”

The Case for Michigan

Sandy discusses the underrated importance of the state of Michigan, pointing out a correlation between the state and the country as a whole saying, ” The challenges faced by this great American city and this storied state are the precursor to the challenges of our nation. As goes Michigan goes America.”

A Lesson in Job Creation from the Hoosier State

Jay discusses the success of Governor Daniels, and brings up the question of whether or not he will throw his hat in the ring of the 2012 Presidential elections. “During the last decade, Tommy Thompson and a crop of innovative GOP governors proved that some of the nation’s best policy innovation comes from the states.”

Republican Heart and Soul: The Definitional Battle for the 2012 Presidential Nomination

“In recent history, presidential aspirants win by leading ideological factions to dominate their party, while simultaneously attracting independents to their candidacies.”

The Coming Generational Shift on Capitol Hill

“When Republicans won control of the House of Representatives on November 2nd, it represented not just a partisan shift on Capitol Hill, but a generational shift, as well.”

Ripon Profile of Tim Scott

“I believe that the people should control their own destinies, not the federal government, and I will fight for the fundamental values and rights on which our country was founded.”

Working Together in a Partisan World

You wouldn’t know it from the rampant partisan dialogue on television, radio, and in print, but today twice as many Americans identify as moderate than as any other ideology. A late October Gallup poll put the breakdown at 29% moderate to 15% conservative and 12% liberal.

Unfortunately, the growing moderation across the country has been met with rising extremism in Washington, which is amplified through various media channels and taken – incorrectly – to reflect the mood of the country. As outgoing Indiana Senator Evan Bayh wisely noted in USA Today in September, “Tolerance for any deviation from party orthodoxy is at an all-time low. It used to be that principled compromise was thought to be a good thing. Now it’s viewed as an act of treachery.”

I would argue that this disconnect – between rising extremism inside the beltway and rising centrism outside it – is fueling the public’s utter dissatisfaction with Washington.

I would argue that this disconnect – between rising extremism inside the beltway and rising centrism outside it – is fueling the public’s utter dissatisfaction with Washington.

Thankfully, in this election, many of those who ran on the most extreme rhetoric were not successful. That is good news for all Americans, regardless of whether your party won or lost on November 2nd.

Yet, although some of the most extreme candidates were not victorious, some gridlock in Washington is all but inevitable in 2011. This is both because of the split control of the two houses of Congress, and the reduced Democrat majority in the Senate. With 59 caucusing Democrats, getting to a majority, and a supermajority when necessary, was an easier task. With 53 caucusing Democrats today, fewer issues will get that important 60 vote total.

Unfortunately, we seem to have lost the shared commitment we once had, especially in government. Every issue that is discussed is done so from the political, rather than policy perspective. The approach to any problem is that the answer will mean that someone must lose for someone to win, that it’s a zero-sum game. That’s wrong.

One challenge that demands Congress’s full attention, for example, is energy. The United States has not had a national energy plan in decades, and the need for one has never been greater. With the U.S. Department of Energy estimating a 28% increase in electricity demand by 2035, energy companies have to start making decisions now that will affect ratepayers down the line – and even now is bordering on “too late.”

For the environment and energy, it’s clear that societies cannot thrive if the people don’t have clean air to breath, clean water to drink and open space to access. Similarly, the environment needs a thriving economy to fund the next round of clean technologies or to preserve precious open space. And both the environment and the economy need reliable, affordable energy to thrive. Yet, over the course of the past 20 years, Congress has passed into law only one piece of major environmental legislation: the Brownfields Revitalization Act in 2002.

If we look back 40 years, to the early days of the modern environmental movement, we see that Republicans and Democrats came together to enact the environmental laws America so badly needed. It wasn’t easy – many Republicans were wary of too much regulation while some Democrats thought there couldn’t be enough. But recognizing the urgent need for national action, the parties worked out their differences and put into place the foundation of what still largely defines environmental policy in America today.

Indeed, the vast majority of those laws were passed by a Congress controlled by Democrats and signed into law by Republican presidents. The votes on these measures were rarely close. And our economy experienced robust growth. Today, opposing every environmental regulation seems to have become an article of faith with Republicans. Many have forgotten that the EPA was created by President Richard Nixon in response to rivers that were spontaneously combusting due to the dumping of pollutants into our waterways and people were dying every summer from bad air quality.

We live in a time where political compromise has become a source of ridicule.

Now political polarization infects too much of public policymaking. We live in a time where political compromise has become a source of ridicule. We have forgotten the lessons of our Founding Fathers; men of great principle who – while disagreeing on a host of issues, including even whether or not to secede from Great Britain – realized that they were being called upon to act and, so, came together to forge the compromises that gave us our Declaration of Independence, our Confederation of States and, ultimately, our Constitution.

I am not naïve enough to think that one mid-term election’s result will lead to greater political compromise – much less one mid-term election that so clearly favored one party over the other. But as we once again enter a period of divided government, I sincerely hope the two parties and the two branches of government are committed to putting the needs of ordinary Americans above their own political posturing.

The next two years can be a time of great policy achievement in the United States, if only our political leaders show a willingness to work together. That is how and why our system of divided government was designed, and moderation – not extremism – is what the majority of Americans want today.

It’s about time we started working together.

Christine Todd Whitman is the Founder and Co-Chair of the Republican Leadership Council. Previously, she served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Governor of the State of New Jersey.