The Ripon Society

By Karol Smith

Emil Frankel, a Harvard law student who studied in England on a Fulbright scholarship, met English members of The Bow Group.  They had become dissatisfied with the Conservative party’s image as “The Stupid Party.”  Frankel was impressed with the depth of study Bow Group members applied to public policy problems as they proactively became experts on the topics.

Simultaneously John Saloma III studied in England with a Fulbright scholarship.  He and Frankel became editors of Advance magazine.  He was an MIT professor.  Frankel and Saloma met in 1962 at Harvard, and then organized the first meeting of the group eventually known as the Ripon Society.

Ripon, Wisconsin is the informal birthplace of the Republican Party, a claim disputed by Jackson, Michigan where the Party’s first official Party was held. (It was, however, unlikely a Republican group would name itself “The Jackson Society.”)  Approximately 60 individuals met at monthly meetings in the vicinity of Harvard.  Most were middle-class and from the Midwest.  30 of them became actively involved.

The main goals of the Ripon Society are to promote ideas and principles that have contributed to the GOP’s past success:  National security, low taxes, smaller, smarter and more accountable  federal government.

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”. (Wikipedia)

After the Kennedy assassination, the Ripon members wrote a manifesto, “A Call to Leadership:  An Open Letter to the New Generation of Republicans.”  It received a lot of media attention and Ripon was hailed by editorially as “a new vote in the land that should be heeded.”  

The Ripon Society hosts a series of lectures known as their "Policy & Politics Dialogue Series", which in 2011 ]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. At a Ripon event in January 2013, shortly after President Obama's second inaugural address, Boehner told the audience that President Obama was trying to "annihilate the Republican Party.”  

(In “Battle for the Soul: Inside the Democrats’ Campaign to Defeat Trump,” insider author Edward Isaac Dovere characterized Obama as a “parasite.”

The book includes a chapter titled “Benign Neglect” in which author Dovere wrote that the title reflects what Obama aides privately called the former president’s jettisoning of the Democratic Party once he was ensconced in the White House.  (Obama defenders are claiming this critical book was prompted by the Hilary Clinton supporters.)

In 1966, the society publicly announced its support of stopping the U.S. military draft at the conclusion of the Vietnam War. The society published an essay on its ideas for ending the draft. Ideas included increasing military salaries, paying volunteers higher salaries than draftees, and getting rid of "irrelevant induction standards to increase the flow of volunteers.”

In 1967, Ripon proposed a new tax overhaul plan. Certain families would not pay taxes; instead, the government would send payments to the families.  At the time, the proposed income cutoff was $6,000 (equivalent to $42,000 in 2014 dollars). In a report, the society said, "The negative income tax encourages families to move up the income scale until they can begin to pay positive income taxes.”

In 1970, the Society created its first system to rate Members of Congress' voting records. 

In 1981, the Ripon Society voiced public support for sanctions on nuclear-exporting countries. The society asked President Reagan to sanction any nation that sold weapons-grade nuclear materials or facilities.

In 2006, Ripon became aggressive pursuing immigration reform.

Ripon Society has numerous Congressional members on its advisory board….Maryland has none listed!

Ripon Society has a Facebook presence: with current information.



Montgomery County Republican Party