The Ripon Society was the first major Republican organization to support passage of the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s. In the early 1970s, it called for the normalization of relations with China, and the abolition of the military draft.
Emil Frankel and the Bow Group
Emil Frankel was a Harvard law student in the early 1960s. He had studied in England on a Fulbright scholarship. While in England, he met members of a group called the Bow Group. The Bow Group founders had been "dissatisfied with the Conservative Party’s image as ‘the Stupid Party’." The Bow Group impressed Frankel, particularly regarding the level of detail that its members would study public policy problems and the proactive way its members became experts on policy topics.
Dr. John S. Saloma III was a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Like Frankel, Saloma had studied in England on a Fulbright scholarship. Both Frankel and Saloma became editors at Advance magazine.
In December 1962, Frankel and Saloma "circulated a confidential 'Proposal for an American Bow Group'".
"They observed that the same conditions that led to the Bow Group’s formation in Britain now bedeviled the Republican Party in the United States. The GOP offered few opportunities for young professional people in the 20-35 age range, who were turned off by ‘the popular image of the Republican Party as a party of obstruction and negativism.’ They worried that the party might not survive if ideological conservatives succeeded in forcing a break with its progressive tradition, and they saw an opportunity for a research group to support moderate Republicans and to form a bridge between the academic community and the GOP." -- Excerpt from Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party by Geoffrey Kabaservice.
Saloma and Frankel held a meeting on December 12, 1962, in Cambridge, Massachusetts at Harvard College. The meeting would become the first meeting of the group that eventually became known as the Ripon Society. The name is a reference to Ripon, Wisconsin, the birthplace of the Republican Party.
One of the main goals of the Ripon Society is to promote ideas and principles that have contributed to the GOP's past success. These ideas include keeping the nation secure, keeping taxes low and having a federal government that is not just smaller, but smarter and more accountable to the people.
A Call to History
On November 22, 1963, a group of Ripon Society members were having lunch in a dining hall at Harvard University. During lunch, they were planning a trip to campaign for Nelson Rockefeller, who was at that time the Republican governor of New York. Near the end of their lunch meeting, the members got word that President John F. Kennedy had been shot.
Political historian and author Geoffrey Kabaservice writes, "Although they (the Ripon Society members) were Republicans, JFK had been their political inspiration. When the news confirmed that Kennedy had been killed, they were caught between grief for their fallen hero and fear of Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded to the presidency".
The Ripon members wrote a manifesto over the weeks following President Kennedy’s death. The manifesto was called "A Call to Excellence in Leadership: An Open Letter to the New Generation of Republicans". Newspapers around the U.S. published the manifesto. The New York Herald Tribune even published the manifesto in full.
The Ripon Papers
The Ripon Society wrote its first public statement in the weeks that followed President Kennedy's assassination and published the statement on January 6, 1964. The following text became what is known as the Ripon Papers:
“While we yet sorrow, so must we seize this moment before our thoughts slip away to be lost in the noise of ‘life as usual.’ It is in this context that we have chosen to speak. We speak as a group of young Republicans to that generation which must bear the responsibility for guiding our party and our country over the coming decades. We speak for a point of view in the Republican Party that has too long been silent.
"We believe that the future of our party lies not in extremism, but in moderation. The moderate course offers the Republican Party the best chance to build a durable majority position in American politics. This is the direction the party must take if it is to win the confidence of the “new Americans” who are not at home in the politics of another generation: the new middle classes of the suburbs of the North and West – who have left the Democratic cities but have not yet found a home in the Republican party; the young college graduates and professional men and women of our great university centers – more concerned with “opportunity” than “security”, the moderate of the new South – who represent the hope for peaceful racial adjustment and who are insulted by a racist appeal more fitting another generation. These and others like them hold the key to the future of our politics.
"We believe that the Republican Party should accept the challenge to fight for the middle ground of American politics. The party that will not acknowledge this political fact of life and courageously enter the contest for power does not merit and cannot possibly win the majority support of the American people.”
Dr. John Saloma, Founding President
The Founding President of the society was Dr. John S. Saloma III. He served as President from 1963 until 1967.
In 1962, Dr. Saloma founded the American Bow Group, a society of university intellectuals. In 1963, the American Bow Group became the Ripon Society.
- Served as a Congressional fellow from 1961-1962
- Published a congressional budget process pamphlet
- Published a book in 1969, "Congress and the New Politics"
- Worked at the John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard University (1972-1974)
- Taught political science at MIT
Dr. Saloma died on July 6, 1983 in San Francisco, California.
Former heads of the Ripon Society include:
- Dr. John S. Saloma III (Founding President of the Ripon Society)
- Jim Leach, U.S. Congressman from Iowa
- Bill Frenzel, U.S. Congressman
- Michael Dubke
- Peter Smith, U.S. Congressman from Vermont
- Frederick R. Kellogg
- Josiah Lee Auspitz
- Glenn S. Gerstell
President George H. W. Bush
Famous Ripon Speech Quotes
It's because of our ability to debate reasonably with one another, because of the solid foundation of common principles that pulls us together, because of the fermentation of thought that this combination of unity, diversity and tolerance within our ranks has fostered - it's because of all this that in the last decade our party has become the party of ideas in America."
Republican of the Year Award
In July 1985, the society awarded its Republican of the Year award to then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. Other Republican of the Year recipients include former Senator Bob Dole and former Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr.
The Ripon Society hosts a series of lectures known as their "Policy & Politics Dialogue Series", which in 2011 has consisted of over 40 idea-based forums. Speakers have included: Speaker of the House John Boehner, Representatives Kevin Brady and Greg Walden, Senators Rob Portman and John McCain, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus.
On February 8, 2013, the Ripon Society held its 2013 Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon. Haley Barbour (the former governor of Mississippi), Carly Fiorina (the former Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard; and former U.S. Senate candidate in 2010.), and staff members from House Republican leadership offices spoke at the symposium. Fiorina recommended to the Ripon Society that the Republican Party focus on a number of issues:
- Simplify and reform the federal tax code
- Promote the use of business technology in government
- Help small businesses
According to the Washington Examiner, Fiorina called the Republican Party’s get-out-the-vote effort as “pathetic” compared to the Democratic Party’s efforts. Fiorina also mentioned some stories about herself, which she said were not widely known:
- She majored in medieval history and philosophy.
- She chose to not finish law school.
- She worked as a hairdresser appointment-setter and as a receptionist at a small firm.
The Ripon Forum
The Ripon Forum examines current issues with essays in politics, business, and academia. The Forum is published quarterly and focuses on several topics per issue, working to frame and lead public policy debate. Recent issues include articles examining education in the 21st century, progressive tax policy, healthcare and information technology, and election reform.
- June 2013
- On June 12, 2013, the White House threatened to veto the MilCon/VA spending bill, because Republicans do not agree with Senate's number of $1.058 trillions intended for military operations and research, after the MilCon/VA bill received 421 bipartisan votes in Senate. "We’re marking up to $967 billion, the top line under current law.", said Rogers, who currently serves as the chairman of United States House Committee on Appropriations.
- May 2013
- On May 21st, 2013 the Ripon Society hosted a breakfast meeting with the Ways & Means Subcommittee Chairman Pat Tiberi (OH-12) and four of the House Republican freshmen class--Reps. Ann Wagner (MO-2), David Joyce (OH-14), Ron DeSantis (FL-6), and Tom Cotton (AR-4). The major topic of discussion was surrounding the 2013 IRS scandal in regards to government and the Administrations accountability and overall structure. "Part of having a constitutional government is that you have an accountable government," Rep. DeSantis stated, while discussing what needs to be done to get to the bottom of what really happened and why.
- The Ripon Society hosted a breakfast meeting with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) regarding the nation’s immigration system. "We are a nation of immigrants...We are also a nation of laws...But more importantly, it is a key principle to the success of the nation," Goodlatte declared as he sees the many opportunity Americans have to grow in our economy, create jobs and restore American vitality.
- House Majority Leader Eric Cantor delivered a speech to Ripon donors on legislative agenda Republicans are pursuing and the message he hoped the American people would hear, stating “We as conservative Republicans don’t stand for a big government...But we do stand for a big America." The agenda is to get the economy back on track, not just with an optimistic outlook, but by taking the necessary steps and commitment to fiscal discipline.
- April 2013
- With cyber attacks becoming more prevalent, Congressman Pat Meehan (PA-7) who serves as the Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies appeared before the Ripon Society to discuss cyber threats and possible attacks. From Anonymous attacks to organized crime, Meehan states that this is "...when we need the ability for real-time information sharing using the best of the capacities we have in government – the FBI, the NSA, Homeland Security – working side-by-side with industry and others.” Collaboration is key; utilizing all channels via the government and the private industry.
- On April 8, 2013, the Ripon Society mourned the death of Margaret Thatcher. Ripon CEO and President Jim Conzelman stated that "[Margaret Thatcher] was one of the giants of the 20th century, a leader who understood that the tide of history must always flow in the direction of freedom".
- March 2013
- Michigan Governor Rick Snyder spoke to the Ripon Society about the importance of making government at all levels more responsive and accountable to the people. He used the term "customer service", showing how in Michigan, "the role of government is to serve our citizens as customers -- to make a difference in their lives in a positive way." The approach and the sense of urgency is what the American people deserve. Snyder was also asked his opinions on the Affordable Care Act and unions.
- The Ripon Society hosted a meeting with the Chairman Steve Scalise (LA-1) and Members of the House Republican Study Committee - U.S. Reps. Alan Nunnelee (MS-1), Billy Long (MO-7), Steve Southerland (FL-2), and Bill Flores (TX-17)-discussing the Obama Administration's handling of the Sequester and the GOP agenda for the year. In his speech, Scalise stated that the American people don't know what to expect from Obama anymore. The GOP agenda is to "...stay focused on what the problem is -- getting not only spending under control, but getting the economy back on track." We as a country need to do better, help those who need help and get the economy back on track to give people those opportunities.
- February 2013
- On February 28th, the Ripon Society hosted U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (KS) to discuss new role as the Chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and why he wanted the position. Moran's interest lies in his desire "...to see the Senate function, to have regular order, to have the opportunity for Americans see their Senators have a debate, to have votes occur and to have the country see the Senate move in the direction it ought to go."
- Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina spoke at a legislative symposium hosted by The Ripon Society on February 8th in Mount Vernon. Florina discussed the idea that the Republican Party is "...the party of empowerment and reform." In attendance was over 200 senior policy and communications aides where there were featured presentations by former Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour and top members of the House Republican Leadership staff, among other political, legislative and business leaders.
- On February 8th, 2013 The Ripon Society’s hosted their Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership with over 200 top House Republican policy and communications aides. The purpose of the symposium was to provide Legislative and Communications Directors with briefings on some of the key challenges facing our Nation and the House majority this year.
- January 2013
- On January 22nd, 2013 the Ripon Society hosted a meeting with House John Boehner (OH-8) where the Congressman talked about the challenges facing the Nation and the Republican Party, and how House Republicans plan to meet these challenges. Even with the hostility rising between the two parties, Boehner expressed that the GOP wants "...to stand up and fight for more fiscal responsibility, want[s] to stand up and find a way to move tax reform that will help our economy grow, to do the things we believe in..."
- Geoffrey Kabaservice, Rule and Ruin: The Downfall of Moderation and the Destruction of the Republican Party, From Eisenhower to the Tea Party. Oxford University Press. January 4, 2012. Retrieved June 7, 2013 via Google Books
- "The History of the Ripon Society", Ripon Society website, Accessed 06 June 2013
- Lindsey Gruson, "John S. Saloma, 48; Specialist in Politics Started Ripon Group", The New York Times, 8 July 1983, Retrieved 06 June 2013
- Lindsey Gruson, "John S. Saloma, 48; Specialist in Politics Started Ripon Group", The New York Times, 8 July 1983, Retrieved 06 June 2013)
- Adam Clymer, "Reagan Holds to the Course that Brought Him This Far", The New York Times, 27 Sep 1981, Retrieved 06 June 2013 via Nexis)
- Jill Abramson, "The Business of Persuasion Thrives in Nation's Capital", The New York Times, 28 Sep 1998, Retrieved 06 June 2013 via Nexis)
- Steven Holmes, "POLITICS: THE CENTRISTS; Elbowed Aside in '92, Moderates Expect to Feel Welcome at This G.O.P. Convention", The New York Times, 5 Aug 1996, Retrieved 06 June 2013 via Nexis)
- Robin Tomer, "THE TRANSITION: The Republicans; Looking to the Future, Party Sifts Through Past", The New York Times, 11 Nov 1992, Retrieved 06 June 2013)
- Craig Wolff, "2 Reagan Aides go to Harlem for a Debate on Civil Rights", The New York Times, 18 Mar 1984, Retrieved 06 June 2013 via Nexis)
- Martin Tolchin, "Rules Panel Recommends G.O.P. Study of Primaries", The New York Times, 15 July 1980, Retrieved 06 June 2013)
- "New Ripon Society Group To Look for 'Progressives'", Washington Post, 14 Apr 1977, Retrieved 06 June 2013 via Nexis)
- Gerald Boyd, "The Front Runner", The New York Times, 23 Feb 1986, Retrieved 06 June 2013 via Nexis
- Irvin Molotsky and Warren Weaver Jr., "Briefing; Bush and the Ripon Speech", The New York Times, 26 Aug 1985, Retrieved 06 June 2013 via Nexis
- Marjorie Hunter and Warren Weaver, "BRIEFING; Republican of the Year", The New York Times, 30 July 1985, Retrieved 06 June 2013
- Lou Zickar, "'Leadership is always about tough choices.' Carly Fiorina Talks about the Future of the Republican Party and the Reforms the GOP Should Embrace in Speech to Ripon Society Symposium", Press release, Ripon Society, 20 Feb 2013, Accessed 1 Mar 2013
- Liz Sidoti, "Year of the political woman redux?", 'Associated Press, printed by NBC News, 9 Jun 2010, Accessed 1 Mar 2013
- "Fiorina: GOP is 'Pathetic'", Washington Examiner, 20 Feb 2013, Accessed 1 Mar 2013
- Jennifer Harper, "Inside the Beltway: Who is James E. Risch?", The Washington Times, 20 Feb 2013, Accessed 1 Mar 2013
- "Rogers: Make my day". The Ripon Society. June 13, 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
- "This is something that sends chills down regular Americans’ spines". The Ripon Society. May 21, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "We are a nation of immigrants.". The Ripon Society. May 15, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "Conservative Principles and the Importance of Making Those Principles Relevant to People’s Lives". The Ripon Society. May 7, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "We are intricately tied together in this". The Ripon Society. April 10, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "Statement of Jim Conzelman President & CEO of The Ripon Society on the passing of Margaret Thatcher". The Ripon Society. April 8, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "The role of government is to serve our citizens as customers – to make a difference in their lives in a positive way". The Ripon Society. March 13, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "The President has jumped the shark". The Ripon Society. March 5, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "Jerry, you need to understand that we’re not going to do anything until after the election". The Ripon Society. March 4, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "Leadership is always about tough choices". The Ripon Society. February 20, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "Ripon Society Hosts 2013 Legislative and Communications Directors Symposium on Leadership at Mount Vernon". The Ripon Society. February 11, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- "We are Americans and we will figure this out". The Ripon Society. MJanuary 22, 2013. Retrieved 10 June 2013.