Ripon Forum - March 2021

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Utah Governor Spencer Cox discusses how to fix political discourse in America.

March 2021 Volume 55, No. 1

We Have to Move Beyond Donald Trump by Adam Kinzinger

Plus: Jaime Herrera Beutler & Nancy Mace on the road ahead for Republicans And: GOP Committee leaders Frank Lucas, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Bob Latta & John Katko lay out Republican solutions for the coming year

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“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“ Volume 55, Number 1 Politics & Perspective

Articles (cont’d.)





Now is the Time to Restart and Reinvest in American Research By Frank Lucas Since the pandemic began, Congress has spent nearly $6 trillion on relief packages. Of that, only .1% has gone to restarting the research work stopped by COVID. We need to change that. Boosting Broadband Connectivity for All Americans By Cathy McMorris Rodgers & Bob Latta While the pandemic underscored the strength of broadband networks, it also magnified the lack of reliable and accessible broadband in many parts of the U.S. It’s essential that we close the digital divide. Homeland Security is Not a Partisan Issue. It’s an American Imperative. By John Katko Simply being vigilant is no longer enough. Today’s threat environment demands a posture of unwavering resilience. It also requires partnerships across industries and party lines.

Articles 11


Why Staying Centered is Biden’s Best Bet By Jon Cowan & Matt Bennett By governing from the Democratic center with an an actionable agenda, Biden will be best positioned to reach across the aisle as he promised to do. Democracies Require a Reliable Flow of Information By William McKenzie Disinformation campaigns have intensified during the pandemic, with nations like China and Russia spreading falsehoods or distortions.

Preserving Democracy: Why the Capitol Must Remain Accessible By Jane Campbell With every measure that distances Americans from their leaders, our government of the people, by the people, and for the people becomes a little less so.

Cover Story 18

We Have to Move Beyond Donald Trump By Adam Kinzinger The damage being done to our democracy is simply unacceptable. And the losses I’ll face pale in comparison to what’s at stake: the soul of America.


We Have to Tell the Truth — Every Day By Jaime Herrera Beutler A majority of voters in America will put their trust in Republicans again if they see that we’re willing to face hard truths, and then do the right thing.


We Sit At A Crossroads By Nancy Mace We can either cling to the personality-driven, conflict-oriented, us-vs-them tactics of the past, or we can look forward to a party based on our future.

Interview 23

One Year Into the Fight Against COVID-19 Q&A with Dr. Eric Toner

Sections 3 26 28

In this Edition News & Events Ripon Profile - Spencer Cox, Governor of the State of Utah.

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Publisher The Ripon Society

Editor Lou Zickar

President Jim Conzelman

Deputy Editor Kyle Chance

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RIPON FORUM March 2021

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THE RIPON SOCIETY HONORARY CONGRESSIONAL ADVISORY BOARD U.S. Senators: Shelley Moore Capito - Senate Co-Chair Todd Young – Senate Co-Chair Marsha Blackburn Roy Blunt Richard Burr Bill Cassidy, M.D. Susan M. Collins Steve Daines Joni Ernst Deb Fischer John Hoeven Jerry Moran Mike Rounds Thom Tillis Roger Wicker U.S. Representatives: Rodney Davis - House Co-Chair Jackie Walorski - House Co-Chair Darin LaHood - Vice Chair, Midwest Mike Kelly - Vice Chair, Northeast Dan Newhouse - Vice Chair, West Frank Lucas - Vice Chair, Southwest Ann Wagner - Vice Chair, South Mark Amodei Don Bacon Troy Balderson Andy Barr Vern Buchanan Larry Bucshon, M.D. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. Ken Calvert Buddy Carter Tom Cole John Curtis Tom Emmer Ron Estes Brian Fitzpatrick Kay Granger Sam Graves French Hill Bill Huizenga Bill Johnson Dave Joyce John Katko Adam Kinzinger Bob Latta Billy Long Kevin McCarthy Michael McCaul Cathy McMorris Rodgers John Moolenaar Tom Reed Guy Reschenthaler Tom Rice Steve Scalise Pete Stauber Steve Stivers Glenn “GT” Thompson Mike Turner Fred Upton Brad Wenstrup Steve Womack

In this edition

The Ripon Forum kicks off its 55th year of publication with an edition that focuses not only on the road ahead for the Republican Party, but on some of the solutions GOP leaders are putting forward to meet the challenges Americans will face in 2021. Leading our coverage of the GOP’s future are three Republicans who have have become leading voices on the subject in the weeks since the January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the subsequent impeachment of Donald Trump. The Republicans are U.S. Reps. Adam Kinzinger, Jaime Herrera Beutler, and Nancy Mace. In separate essays for this most recent edition, each expresses strong opinions about the direction the Republican Party should take in the months ahead, and the role that the former President should play in that regard. “Where do we go from here?” Kinzinger asks in his essay. “Do we continue down the path of anger, vitriol, and hatred? Do we continue to pledge our allegiance to one man and cancel anyone who doesn’t wholly agree? Or do we step back, take a look at this inflection point and decide we need to change course?” As Kinzinger makes clear, he believes the party needs to change course. “To put it bluntly,” he writes, “we have to move beyond Donald Trump.” Herrera Beutler strikes a similar note in her piece. “In a world filled with distortion and lies based on political correctness and utopian ideas,” she writes, “to be a conservative is to tell the truth — every day. Part of telling the truth is working to reject baseless conspiracy theories. Denying that a plane hit the Pentagon on 9/11, stating that school shootings are false flags, claiming the 2020 presidential election was stolen -- these lies have no place in the Republican Party.” Mace agrees. “We sit at a crossroads,” the South Carolina first term lawmaker writes, “one that could determine not only the future of the Republican Party, but the future of our country. We can either cling to the personality-driven, conflict-oriented, us-vs-them tactics of the past, or we can look forward to a party based on our future.” The future of the party is very much on the minds of four other Republicans featured in this latest edition, who in three separate essays — two written individually, and one written jointly — discuss some of the key challenges facing America and some of the solutions they will be putting forward in that regard. Those writing include U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, who serves as the Republican leader of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and explains why “Now is the Time to Restart and Reinvest in American Research.” In addition to Lucas, U.S. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Bob Latta, who serve as the Republican Leaders of the Energy & Commerce Committee and the E&C Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, respectively, write about the importance of “Boosting Broadband Connectivity.” And U.S. Rep. John Katko, who serves as GOP Leader of the Committee on Homeland Security, writes why “Homeland Security is Not a Partisan Issue. It’s an American Imperative.” Also writing for this latest edition of The Ripon Forum are: Jon Cowan and Matt Bennett of the Third Way, who explain why President Joe Biden is not the liberal many in the media are portraying him to be. Rather, the pair write, Biden is a centrist. Bill McKenzie of the Bush Institute, who served as Editor of the Forum in the 1980s, returns to our pages with an essay about “Democracies and the Reliable Flow of Information.” And Jane Campbell, the President of the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, examines the fortifications that have been erected around the Capitol since the January 6th insurrection and explains why they should be taken down. With America marking the one year anniversary of the lockdown this month, we also feature an interview with Dr. Eric Toner of Johns Hopkins about the fight against COVID-19 and the effort to vaccinate the American people as quickly as possible and bring the pandemic to an end. And in our latest Ripon Profile, we talk to Spencer Cox, the newly-elected Governor of Utah, about, among other topics, the state of political discourse in America and how things can be improved. As always, we hope you enjoy this latest edition of The Ripon Forum, and welcome any thoughts or comments you may have. Lou Zickar Editor of The Ripon Forum RIPON FORUM March 2021


Politics & Perspective

Now is the Time to Restart and Reinvest in American Research by FRANK LUCAS Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Congress shutdowns and social distancing. The total research has spent nearly $6 trillion dollars on relief packages. output lost from COVID is estimated between 20% Of that, only .1% has gone to restarting the research and 40%. work stopped by COVID. We need to act quickly to In addition to our loss of research, we’re facing change that. the loss of our researchers. Graduate students and America’s technological post-docs are particularly leadership and economic strength vulnerable to lab closures right directly result from the dynamic now. Research interruptions partnerships between federal make it difficult to complete research facilities, universities, their studies and graduate and private labs. This research on time, and job openings industry pivoted quickly to fight are scarce. Universities are COVID when it reached our instituting hiring freezes and, shores. Universities turned entire in some cases, rescinding veterinary labs over to process job offers. According to COVID tests. Tech companies the Science Careers Job partnered with government Board, the number of faculty to create a High-Performance openings in sciences dropped Computing Consortium that by 70% in 2020. grants researchers access to This loss of professionals supercomputers to do complex in science, technology, work like modeling virus spread engineering, and math and conducting studies on (STEM) could hurt our improving patient outcomes. scientific productivity for a National Labs have dedicated their generation or more. As China world-class equipment to the fight threatens to overtake us on the The longer our research as well. For instance, the Advanced global stage, we can’t afford Light Source at Berkeley National remains stalled, the more that kind of setback. Lab is being used to examine The longer our research likely it is that we’ll COVID-19 antibodies. As the remains stalled, the more fall behind our foreign Perseverance Rover traveled to likely it is that we’ll fall Mars, researchers at NASA’s behind our foreign adversaries adversaries. Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) like China on technologies designed inexpensive ventilators like artificial intelligence, and respirators while researching quantum information sciences, virus inactivation. advanced manufacturing, and space exploration. It’s hard to overstate the importance of our research The consequences of that would be devastating. industry—not just to the fight against COVID, but to all Not only would it hurt our economic competitiveness, cutting-edge technological and economic development. but it would also create the potential for dangerous That’s why Congress’ failure to provide support for technological precedents. The country that paves American research is so problematic. the way in any given technology also sets the rules Researchers and labs that were unable to transition of the road for how it is designed and used. When to work on COVID faced closures and disruptions from it comes to industries of the future like artificial 4

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intelligence and space exploration, it’s critical that we billion in funding to allow federal science agencies lead with ethical, practical, and transparent standards. to make awards to research universities, independent Without continued investment in our scientific institutions, and national laboratories. These grants enterprise, we risk taking a back seat to China, with will give researchers the resources needed to complete all the economic and national security concerns that work that was halted due to the pandemic. Another would entail. bill to support early-career Unfortunately, we researchers also enjoys can’t just flip a switch and bipartisan support. COVID has disrupted many restart the research work With so many that’s been halted by the contentious bills being things, but by working pandemic. There’s a cost debated in Congress, it’s together we can ensure it involved in getting it back up refreshing to find widespread doesn’t put a stop to our and running, which is why agreement on the need to COVID relief is so badly support American science. scientific and technological needed. Scientists need to COVID has disrupted many progress. cultivate new samples, field things, but by working researchers need to reacquire together we can ensure it equipment, permits, and doesn’t put a stop to our tools, and labs need to figure out how to safely use scientific and technological progress. RF and sterilize expensive and delicate equipment. There is good news, however. There is strong Frank Lucas (OK-3) serves as Republican Leader bipartisan agreement that we need to invest in restarting of the House Committee on Science, Space, and our research industry. The RISE Act would invest $25 Technology.

Immunization rates for teens and adults have fallen dramatically during the pandemic...

We must act quickly to stop the spread of vaccine preventable diseases. Avalere Health compared adolescent and adult vaccine billing patterns in commercial, Medicaid managed care (due to variability across states in billing requirements for vaccines provided through the Vaccines for Children program, this analysis may not fully capture adolescent vaccine utilization in the Managed Medicaid market), Medicare FFS, and MA markets from January-August 2019 to vaccine billing patterns during the same months in 2020 (e.g., March 2019 to March 2020), represented as a percent change between years. Between 2019-2020, aggregate vaccine claims submitted between March-August decreased by 53% (Commercial), 41% (Managed Medicaid), 42% (Medicare Advantage) and 48% (Medicare FFS).

Source: Avalere Health. Aggregate Changes for All Vaccine Products Across Markets. Adolescents and Adults, 2019-2020. © 2001-2021 GlaxoSmithKline plc. All rights reserved. Trade marks are owned by or licensed to the GSK group of companies.

GSK is proud to support the Ripon Society Funding for this research was provided by GlaxoSmithKline. Avalere Health retained full editorial control.

RIPON FORUM March 2021


Boosting Broadband Connectivity for All Americans by CATHY MCMORRIS RODGERS & BOB LATTA During the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s broadband Rep. Rodgers, and my family have witnessed this in our own networks have held our economy, our education system, community. When my husband Brian dropped my son Cole’s our medical communities through telehealth, and our books off at his school this summer in inner-city Spokane his neighborhoods together. When businesses and schools closed teachers told him that a third of students did nothing in remote to the public, many Americans had no choice but to work school. Many were cut off from the classroom because they and learn from home. Children began streaming classes as lacked reliable broadband for hybrid and remote learning. working parents juggled video calls and the responsibility of The lack of access along with the isolation of virtual childcare. learning is challenging for Thanks to the families, and particularly light-touch regulatory devastating for our young environment in the United people. A day does not go States, our networks adapted by that one of us in Congress to this internet traffic surge. does not hear from a parent Providers stepped up to the worried about their child plate by voluntarily offering falling behind. I, Rep. Latta, emergency hotspots for have heard from constituents distance learning, opening in my district who, due to public Wi-Fi for free, and the lack of quality, high taking steps to upgrade speed broadband, rely on their networks. Through hotspots and other quick Republican-led marketfix approaches that do not oriented policies, we had adequately support their an existing regulatory virtual work and learning. environment that facilitated This is the case for Sara While the pandemic underscored innovation and investment from Bloomdale, Ohio, the strength of American in our networks. This led who reached out asking broadband networks, it also to increased speeds, extra what could be done to help capacity, and flexibility to her family access a reliable magnified the lack of reliable and adapt when faced with the internet connection. Sarah accessible broadband in many greatest health and economic and her husband have three parts of the country, in both rural crisis of our generation. boys in elementary school, Our ability to adapt and the entire family relies and urban areas. to the new realities of the on a stable connection in pandemic was a stunning order to work and learn from show of American ingenuity, and it was uniquely American. their home in rural Ohio. According to the Information Technology and Innovation During a recent committee meeting, our colleague Rep. Foundation (ITIF), the U.S. kept the Internet up and Tim Walberg shared a similar story of a parent in his district running at full speed — even as home broadband traffic who is forced to drive to a nearby business parking lot so rose considerably — while many of our European and other her children can do their schoolwork. And Rep. Markwayne OECD peers struggled to deal with the surge in online traffic. Mullin described the issues his own family faces with their Our success was due primarily to the relatively light-touch limited hotspot connection in rural Oklahoma, making virtual regulatory environment fostered in the U.S. work and learning a daily challenge. Still, we have more work to do. While the pandemic Millions of children have lost a year’s worth of underscored the strength of American broadband networks, it critical learning, which could have devastating long term also magnified the lack of reliable and accessible broadband consequences for their educational development and mental in many parts of the country, in both rural and urban areas. I, and emotional well-being. It will also have a significant 6

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impact on the U.S. economy — perhaps as much as $14 That is why we enacted and funded the Broadband DATA trillion to $28 trillion over time, according to economists. Act, which improves the coverage maps for fixed and We need policies to permanently close the digital divide. wireless services across the country. We are working closely That is why, last summer, Republicans led on the Broadband with the Federal Communications Commission to make sure Connectivity and Digital Equity Framework, which had these coverage maps effectively help bring next generation bicameral and bipartisan support. The framework included 5G to more small towns and underserved communities. ideas on how best to connect unserved rural and lowTo win the future and make a strong comeback from the income Americans and tribes, pandemic, it’s essential that and expanded funding for we close the digital divide. It’s telehealth services that are our goal to do so with forwardTo win the future and make now law. thinking and smart policies to a strong comeback from the To build on this roll back regulatory red tape pandemic, it’s essential that we framework and turbocharge and unleash innovation to fuel the billions of private and deployment of new broadband close the digital divide. public dollars spent on technologies. We know that broadband infrastructure, our schools, Americans who Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans recently are eager to get back to work, and America’s next generation unveiled our Boosting Broadband Connectivity Agenda. The of innovators are counting on it. RF agenda, which every member on the Energy and Commerce Committee is leading on, proposes 28 bills that will more Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5) serves as Republican efficiently use public and private investment on long-term Leader of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Bob solutions to close the digital divide. Latta (OH-5) serves as Republican Leader of the Energy Republicans are also working to make sure that the and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and broadband funding is going to the places that need it most. Technology.

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Homeland Security is not a Partisan Issue. It’s an American Imperative. by JOHN KATKO America is the greatest country in the history of homeland security and national security threat of our time. the world, and it is up to us to protect it. Cybersecurity underpins nearly every aspect of As our adversaries get smarter and more our way of life. From online banking, to refilling a sophisticated, the evolving threat landscape becomes prescription, to our new work from home environment more difficult to predict and detect. China, Russia, – our daily activities often Iran, and North Korea are involve a transfer of data from constantly looking for new ways one network to another. Without to compromise our vulnerabilities effective cybersecurity measures, and undermine our way of life. this data can fall into the wrong Simply being vigilant is no hands and the repercussions can longer enough. Today’s threat be detrimental. environment demands a posture Across the country, we’ve of unwavering resilience. seen ransomware campaigns Throughout my 20-year cripple local governments, impact career as a federal prosecutor and critical infrastructure, and bring now as the lead Republican on the hospital operations to a screeching House Committee on Homeland halt. Just a few weeks ago, a Security, my mission has remained hacker reportedly gained access the same: protect our nation and to a water treatment facility in hold accountable those who seek Oldsmar, Florida, and attempted to disrupt it. to adjust the water chemical levels Later this year, we will observe th through cyber means to poison the 20 anniversary of the horrific thousands of residents. terror attacks of September 11, bad actors are looking 2001. This anniversary not only Simply being vigilant wellThese beyond discrete, individual serves as a somber reminder of the is no longer enough. targets and instead are looking fragility of our security, but also for points of digital leverage to Today’s threat enviunderscores the importance of cause maximum pain. Late last taking a collective and bipartisan ronment demands a year, revelations surfaced of a approach to homeland security. posture of unwavering cyber espionage campaign that As we saw with this attack, an penetrated thousands of major resilience. inability to connect the dots can organizations – including some have dire ramifications. federal government networks. In my role as Ranking This hack, known as the SolarWinds campaign, has Member, I am focused on cultivating productive since been traced to Russia, and it will likely take partnerships, where possible, with Congressional years to determine the extent of the data compromised Democrats and homeland security officials in the and even longer to realize the impact. Biden Administration. I have already begun finding Cyber threats clearly have real world consequences, common ground with Bennie Thompson, Chairman of and we must do everything to bring these malicious the House Committee on Homeland Security. actors to justice. Working with colleagues on both sides of the To build up our cyber defenses and create true aisle, I also hope to find bipartisan consensus on resilience, there are five key areas that must be part of cybersecurity, which I believe to be the greatest 8

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Fourth, software flaws can present a major threat, a policy response conversation: First, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure and we should drive better software development Security Agency (CISA) needs more resources and practices across the entire ecosystem to minimize risk. authorities. CISA is essentially the quarterback of our The software supply chain represents an attack vector cybersecurity efforts. To keep up with adversaries like that if exploited can have an impact felt across the Russia and China, CISA needs to be well-staffed entire economy. Lastly, we must impose real consequences on and robustly funded. This is a modern-day arms race, cyber adversaries like China, Russia, Iran, and North and right now, we’re being badly outspent. Korea. These aggressors Second, we need to better should know their actions understand the nature and will be met with a strong extent of third-party cyber risks. Protecting the homeland response. As the SolarWinds campaign requires partnerships across Protecting the homeland demonstrated, third-party and requires partnerships across supply chain risk can amplify industries and party lines. industries and party lines. the effect of a cyber-attack and Homeland security is not must be at the forefront of all a partisan issue; it’s an cybersecurity conversations. We must be diligent in our efforts to identify any and American imperative. Working together, we can be prepared not only for threats of today, but also the all third-party risks. RF Third, once these concentrated risks are identified, emerging risks of tomorrow. it’s important to find ways to mitigate exposure. Ensuring processes and practices are implemented to John Katko (NY-24) serves as the Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security. adequately protect against threats is a critical step.

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Why Staying Centered is Biden’s Best Bet by JON COWAN & MATT BENNETT

At the dawn of his presidency, conventional liberalism. During the last presidential campaign, wisdom has it that President Biden is bowing to Senator Bernie Sanders tried to corner the market on pressure from the far left or even that he is “governing audacity, claiming only those committed to his vision as an activist liberal.” He is doing neither. Joe Biden of Democratic Socialism – in which government would ran as a centrist Democrat, and he won because voters take over health care and the energy sector and provide saw him that way. He has appointed moderates to run a guaranteed federal job for everyone – were up to the his administration, and his initial policy ideas all have task of governing effectively in this new era. been decidedly centerThat is nonsense. left. Democratic centrists, That does not mean, led by Biden, have however, that President plenty of big ideas – Biden’s actions in his and it is those ideas, first term will mirror not the ones espoused those of another avowed by the far-left, that will centrist like President provide the foundation Clinton in 1993. The for what gets done under animating principles of Biden. Senator Bennet’s Democratic centrism American Family Act – a belief in free will cut child poverty but fair markets that in half. Senator Coons’ provide equality of national apprenticeship opportunity, a vision program will bring to Jon Cowan Matt Bennett of a big-tent politics, the development of and a commitment middle skills the scale to placing bold and of our public university Almost reflexively, the pragmatic policy above system. Rep. Lisa Blunt political chattering classes ideological litmus tests Rochester is working – are timeless. But the with Third Way on a cost have mislabeled Biden’s actions, times and the nation’s proposal that will because they are conflating policy caps challenges have finally make health care boldness with far-left changed dramatically affordable. in 30 years, and so have Similarly, Third liberalism. centrist Democrats’ Way’s center-left governing ideas. approach to climate So, Biden will govern as he ran: as a moderate, but change provides the roadmap for meeting our planet’s the activist, 21 st century model. Because this moment existential challenge. This modern and moderate demands urgent and aggressive steps to respond to climate agenda, which Biden’s plan tracks closely, the cascading series of crises he inherited from his eschews liberal shibboleths like renewables-only, while maligned and incompetent predecessor. These crises investing trillions to drive a clean energy innovation – in public health, the economy, climate change and revolution. racial justice – must not be met with old, small, or pieIndeed, what we will not see under Biden is an in-the-sky ideas. It is a time think anew, go big, and embrace of the far-left’s signature ideas. Democrats most crucially, get things done. thoroughly debated things like the Green New Deal, Yet almost reflexively, the political chattering Medicare-for-All, abolishing ICE and eliminating all classes have mislabeled Biden’s actions, because student loans over the past two election cycles. And they are conflating policy boldness with far-left the mandate from Democratic primary voters (not to RIPON FORUM March 2021


mention the general electorate) was clear: run and on party line votes in Congress. But as the Washington govern from the center. The far left’s ideas proved so Post has reported, there are plenty of Republican politically toxic, that they have no chance of moving mayors – and even a few governors – who strongly in this or any Congress in the foreseeable future. And favor a big package of aid to states and localities, Joe Biden has no interest in tilting at windmills. despite what their GOP colleagues are saying in Moreover, by governing from the Democratic Washington. And support for the package among center, with an ambitious and actionable agenda, Republican voters is running at 64%. Biden will be best At his inaugural, positioned to reach Biden pledged to across the aisle, as he “fight as hard for those By governing from the Democratic promised he would who did not support center, with an ambitious and do. In fact, one of me as for those who actionable agenda, Biden will be best his first White House did.” That sentiment, meetings was with perhaps more than positioned to reach across the aisle, as Senate Republicans, any one policy idea, he promised he would do. seeking the ten GOP marks Biden as a votes needed to pass centrist Democrat, a pandemic relief especially at a time package through regular order. The Republicans came when much of the Republican Party has abdicated its to the table with an offer that was far too low, but the commitment to this core (small d) democratic ideal. attempt signals that Biden is committed to trying. In his campaign, and in his presidency, he is standing Importantly, Biden’s view of bipartisanship is firmly in that vital American center. RF not narrowly confined to hunting for GOP votes on legislation. The consensus he values most is outside Jon Cowan is President and Matt Bennett is an the Beltway. His pandemic relief bill may be passed Executive Vice President of Third Way.

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RIPON FORUM March 2021 4/22/2020 9:01:49 AM

Democracies Require a Reliable Flow of Information by WILLIAM MCKENZIE The reliable flow of information is one of the most daily directives to media outlets and websites that guide essential battlegrounds in the fight to stabilize democracies coverage of breaking news stories. They also have around the world. The rise of disinformation campaigns, blocked numerous websites for years, including major authoritarian crackdowns on press freedoms, and the news and social media hubs. decline in local journalism in America and globally present Freedom of the press may actually be the most three especially critical obstacles to that reliable flow. integral freedom. A free, vibrant media provides a The danger for democracy in way for citizens to stay informed, each of these realities is that citizens engage in their communities, lack access to the facts they need consume and civilly debate ideas, to make informed decisions. They and hold governments accountable. lose the knowledge required to Yet even in nations where hold their leaders and governments a free press is valued, local accountable. And, even worse, a lack journalism is in decline. In our of reliable information undermines own country, more than 2,000 the trust that a democracy depends newspapers have closed their doors upon for stability. since 2004. Their collapse has left Let’s start with disinformation behind “news deserts” or “ghost campaigns. They have intensified newspapers.” In turn, that has led during the COVID-19 pandemic, to fewer journalists reporting on with nations like China and Russia local and state governments, which spreading falsehoods or distortions is one of their most important roles. about the virus and how countries Between 2008 and 2018, newsroom might be responding to it. But employment fell to 38,000 workers disinformation campaigns started from 71,000. William McKenzie long before then, with organizations like Russia’s Internet Research Recommendations Disinformation Agency capitalizing upon elections So, how should we combat campaigns have in various nations to manipulate these trends? A new Bush Institute citizens and sow distrust. policy brief, Disinformation: intensified during the The United States is hardly Democracies Require a Reliable Covid-19 pandemic, the only target of disinformation Flow of Information, presents with nations like campaigns as well as cyberattacks. recommendations in each area. This modern warfare is being Here are some of the proposals: China and Russia waged from Europe to Africa to spreading falsehoods Latin America. And disinformation Disinformation or distortions about campaigns can originate within our *Congress should adequately own country and lead to violence fund entities like the State the virus... and death, as we tragically saw on Department’s Global Engagement January 6. Center so it can constantly monitor Along with waging disinformation campaigns, and expose technological threats, whether from deepauthoritarian leaders are on the prowl against freedom of fake videos, automated bots, or fake news about the the press. As one example, the Chinese Communist Party COVID-19 pandemic. controls news reporting via direct ownership, accreditation *The White House should lead an effective of journalists, harsh penalties for public criticism, and international response among the world’s democracies. RIPON FORUM March 2021


U.S. partnerships with countries like Australia, Japan, free press. and South Korea, as well as multilateral structures like *Legislators should provide the support that taxpayerNATO, are essential to stopping the cyberattacks and funded organizations like Voice of America, Radio Free disinformation campaigns that threaten all democracies to Asia, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty require varying degrees. to provide valuable, accurate information to people in *Social media companies shut down content during nations that lack a free press and uncensored news. the recent U.S. election that spread misinformation about The White House and Congress should especially how, where, and when we could vote, as well as labeling protect and restore the independence of these organizations information as false even if it came from some of the so their reputation for journalistic integrity is not highest offices in the land. Next, social media companies compromised through domestic political interference. must vigorously enforce Their reporting is often a their own terms of service lifeline to people searching against disseminating for freedom. disinformation, strengthen internal infrastructure for Local journalism identifying “fake news” *Congress should stay and accounts, and further clear of investing public develop partnerships with dollars in newspapers, firms that rate content for but legislators should reliability and truthfulness. consider giving news media *Legislators should organizations a temporary re-examine the federal antitrust exemption so the statutes that appropriately industry can negotiate with let the internet develop social media companies. without much interference. The aim would be for news Congress should adequately Technologies have so organizations to get paid for rapidly changed that the content posted on social fund entities like the State Congress should reconsider media sites. Department’s Global whether there are fair and *Congress should Engagement Center so it limited ways for social rewrite tax laws so media companies to be held newspapers could more can constantly monitor and responsible for the content easily become nonprofit expose technological threats, that appears on their sites. institutions, if they like. whether from deep-fake videos, *State legislators and This could help grow state education leaders more successful reporting automated bots, or fake news should bolster our education in communities about the COVID-19 pandemic. operations system with effective media and states. literacy courses. Starting *Congress should early in their education, consider making newspaper children need the skills to distinguish truth from fiction. subscriptions tax deductible, as they are for public This includes knowing how to consult multiple sources to broadcasting memberships. verify the veracity of the information we consume. Conclusion Freedom of the press In each of these cases – combating disinformation *The Biden administration should prioritize freedom campaigns, promoting a free press, and preserving local of the press when challenging authoritarian leaders in media operations – lawmakers and policymakers from places like Russia, Hungary, and China. This can be Washington to state capitals can sustain the reliable flow done through administration officials releasing public of information that democracies require to keep their statements defending a free press, making press freedom people informed. RF a priority in official head-of-state meetings, and diplomats highlighting the role journalists play in a society. William McKenzie serves as senior editorial advisor at *Congress must adequately fund the National the George W. Bush Institute. He is the author of the Endowment for Democracy and organizations like the policy brief, “Disinformation: Democracies Require a U.S. Agency for International Development. They work Reliable Flow of Information,” from which this essay internationally to grow democratic institutions such as a is adapted. 14

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Preserving Democracy:

Why the Capitol Must Remain Accessible by JANE CAMPBELL Top law enforcement officials recently called Officers Chestnut and Detective Gibson were all to make the 8-foot-high, razor-wire-topped fencing serious terrorist attacks. In response to each tragedy erected in the wake of the January 6th insurrection there were proposals to limit public access—from a a permanent fixture, forever walling the Capitol off bulletproof barrier between the chamber galleries and from American citizens. the floors to an outright closure of the building. While the U.S. Capitol Historical Society (USCHS) However, in the face of these attacks, Congress does not weigh in on the merits of specific security found solutions to enhance security without technologies, we do have an important perspective sacrificing accessibility. The Capitol’s openness is a on the values and ideals that have guided America’s beautiful representation of the openness our society response to past assaults strives for, and members on our Capitol. Sadly, have eloquently defended we have grappled with why it was necessary to an attack on the Capitol maintain public access. before, and where we have In the wake of the 1954 been helps inform where shooting, Congressman we must go. Adam Clayton Powell Most people are declared, “it would be a familiar with the British pity, however, to diminish ransacking Washington, the freedom to which DC in 1814, but many Americans have always may be surprised to learn gained access to the Halls that there were no fewer of Congress. Indignation than five notable attacks over the occurrence should on the Capitol in the 20th not breed intemperance or century. The tragic events vindictiveness.” In 1998, With every measure that that unfolded on January 6, then-Majority Leader distances Americans from their 2021, represent the latest Senator Trent Lott echoed elected leaders, our government attack on our democracy. this sentiment in a lengthy Quite understandably, defense on the Senate of the people, by the people, and after every historical floor. for the people becomes a little attack on the Capitol, the Senator Lott marveled less so. immediate, instinctual at how everyday people reaction is to implement waited to see if they could extreme security measures. really meet him as he These reactions, however, stepped out from his office doors—Americans and are not strategic long-term solutions, and, after every foreigners alike were amazed to see him. He exhorted assault, Congress ultimately decided the Capitol is his fellow Senators to remember that the “people’s more than an office complex — it is the embodiment access to their Capitol is the physical manifestation of of our democracy. democracy. It represents something rare and precious, The 1915 German nationalist Senate bombing, something all Americans take for granted. It represents the 1954 Puerto Rican nationalists shooting of five the bond between those in high office and those who Members on the House floor, the 1971 Weather put them there. It represents, in short, our freedom.” Underground Senate bombing, the 1983 Resistance Congressman Powell and Senator Lott both understood Conspiracy bombing of Senator Robert Byrd’s the impulse to make the Capitol impregnable, but they Capitol Office, and the 1998 killings of Capitol Police also understood the power of remaining accessible. RIPON FORUM March 2021


We have heard the calls to keep the Capitol fail. While we must ensure the safety of those who behind barbed wire, and if our only obligation was work within the Capitol, we must also remember that to protect the physical safety and property of those the Capitol is the citadel of our democracy, and its who work within the Capitol, it would be a simple openness is essential for its health. With every measure solution to seal it off. However, our responsibility is that distances Americans from their elected leaders, greater than that. Fencing out our government of the people, the public is an easy, obvious, by the people, and for the people and wrong solution that risks becomes a little less so. The Capitol is more than a dire outcome. We risk losing I have faith that our leaders “something rare and precious,” today, just as those who came an office complex — it is something that represents our before them, will look to history the embodiment of our freedom, and the insurrectionists and reach solutions that will democracy. will forever break “the bond safeguard not only the Capitol between those in high office and those who work within and those who put them there” its halls but also its powerful represented by an open Capitol. symbolism as a physical If one believes that part of what ails American politics manifestation of the American Experiment. RF is people feeling like elected officials are out-oftouch, imagine what a permanent wall between the Jane L. Campbell is the President and CEO of the United States Capitol Historical Society, a former American people and Congress would represent. American democracy is a participatory sport. If we Senate Chief of Staff and Committee Staff Director, further separate the people from their representatives and the former and first woman Mayor of Cleveland, with physical barriers, the whole experiment could OH.

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RIPON FORUM March 2021

It was a sobering moment to vote in support of impeach- those who stoked the flames of insurrection accountable to enment, knowing I would face criticism from family, friends, and sure it never happens again. those within my own party. As I walked over to take that vote, When it comes to public service, we have a responsibility up to the United States Capitol — the symbol of our democracy to the people who have entrusted us with their vote — and to the — I thought about the violent insurrection that we as Americans office we hold. Each elected official swears an oath to protect witnessed and the angry rhetoric that inspired it. My vote was and defend the Constitution of the United States, our founding an easy one — not something I took lightly, but a vote I took charter and guiding document. This is our system of governconfidently. It was a turning point for me as a Republican, as a ment, and we don’t always have to like it, but those who seek Member of Congress, and as an American. It’s a day I will never to undermine or destroy it must be held accountable now and forget. always. The question now is: where do we My vote to impeach was a vote of go from here? Do we continue down conscience, and a vote to uphold my the path of anger, vitriol, and hatred? Do oath to the best of my ability, without we continue to pledge our allegiance regard for any other cost. For me, the to one man and cancel anyone who ultimate cost would be to run from this doesn’t wholly agree? Or do we step responsibility and turn my back on the back, take a look at this inflection point nation I’ve risked life and limb to proand decide we need to change course? tect; the people who I vowed to serve I have chosen hope and optimism, a with honor and integrity; the values infuture first mission that celebrates who stilled in me to do the right thing for the we are as conservative Americans and good of others. sees the endless possibilities we have if History is made in moments like we recognize our failures and vow to do these, and we each have a choice to better. We are the party of ideas and the make in rising to the occasion. I’ve party of opportunity. made my choice, and I’m at peace with Throughout my time in Congress, my decision. I’ve sought to do the right thing for the We have to remember the pringood of the people I represent and for ciples of our conservative party, the valThe question now is: the country as a whole. As a lifelong ues that define us, and the shared goals conservative, I voted for President we have as a governing partner. The where do we go from Trump because I wanted to continue to numbers in both the House and Senate here? Do we continue build on the policy achievements borne make it quite clear that cooperation and down the path of anger, by Congressional Republicans working bipartisanship will be critical for getting with his Administration. But I’ve also effective legislation to the President’s vitriol, and hatred? Do been consistent in calling out the former desk. I am prepared to work with my we continue to pledge President’s use of Twitter and how his colleagues on issues that are deeply imour allegiance to one rhetoric on social media and elsewhere portant to my constituents, such as our had been incendiary and damaging, not nuclear energy sector, our agriculture man and cancel anyone to mention unbecoming of the highest and trade, and manufacturing of goods who doesn’t wholly office in the land. here in the United States. I firmly beagree? We are in unchartered waters, lieve we can get something big done facing a difficult moment we have not for infrastructure, and I hope President experienced in modern history. I know Biden stays true to his promise of unity I’ve lost supporters because of my impeachment vote and the by bringing Republicans into the fold in these policy discusstances I’ve taken, and I may even lose my job representing Il- sions. There are areas we can and should work together. linois’ 16th District next election. But the damage being done to Moving forward means we must accept reality, be honest our democracy and the values we hold dear is simply unaccept- with ourselves and with our constituents, and recognize what’s able. And the losses I’ll personally face pale in comparison to at stake. This moment in time is an opportunity to turn the tide what’s at stake: the soul of our nation. from personality politics and using fear to fuel the political To put it bluntly, we have to move beyond Donald Trump. world into a more optimistic, principled approach that puts the Over the last two months, I’ve thought a great deal about interests of the country first. That is the path I’m working tonext steps and what the future of the Republican Party will be — wards, and I hope my fellow Republicans will join me. RF what the future of our institution of government will look like. I’ve thought about what this moment in time will teach future Adam Kinzinger represents the 16th District of Illinois in the generations. And I’ve looked at different options for holding U.S. House of Representatives. RIPON FORUM March 2021



We Need to Tell the Truth — Every Day by JAIME HERRERA BEUTLER

I’m a Republican because I believe in our core conservative carbon output can start with preventing the catastrophic fires ideals – free markets, limited government, individual liberty, that spewed 30 million tons more carbon dioxide than all the personal responsibility, justice, life, and a level playing field power generation for the entire state of California. for every single American so that they can go as far as their And in our major cities, Democrat leaders have failed so dreams and hard work will take them. badly that they’ve opened up a tremendous opportunity for new These values are conservative, yes, but the reason I stand leadership and ideas. My region is wedged between Portland for them is simple: I believe they are true. For me, truth is and Seattle where leftist city councils and mayors vacillate the deepest value for a conservative. In a world filled with between minimizing the looting of the businesses and ignoring distortion and lies based on political correctness and utopian the activities that have led to an explosion of individuals living ideas, to be a conservative is to tell the truth — every day. homeless, open waste piles and graffiti taking over public Part of telling the truth is spaces and sidewalks. Residents of working to reject baseless conspiracy these cities are clamoring for leaders theories. Denying that a plane hit the willing to acknowledge the truth that Pentagon on 9/11, stating that school we can only function with law and shootings are false flags, claiming order, and that enabling addiction has the 2020 presidential election was profoundly destructive consequences. stolen -- these lies have no place in As a nation, we have our work the Republican Party. A majority of cut out for us. We continue to witness voters in this country will put their trust fallout from the pandemic that’s pushed in Republicans again if they see that Main Street businesses to the brink, and we’re willing to face hard truths, and left families in crisis-mode. The child then do the right thing. Lincoln and care shortage was a challenge before Reagan did this. My hope is that others COVID, now it’s a crisis. Communities will join me in re-claiming that this is that were short-changed by Obamacare what our party stands for. still lack quality medical treatment. And if we demonstrate our But therein is our opportunity to dedication to truth, we won’t just win lead, too. The left will gravitate toward A majority of voters elections, we’ll be in the best position government intrusion and socialist in this country will to solve our nation’s challenges. programs because those things sound Take schools, for example. All the good. It’s up to us to point out the truth: put their trust in data and experts say that it’s safe to fully socialism doesn’t work, and there are Republicans again if reopen schools, yet our students largely better alternatives that keep individuals and they see that we’re remain on the sideline. The CDC just families in control of their own destinies. released guidance that states schools GOP House gains in the most willing to face hard should be the last to close and first to recent elections showed that when we truths, and then do the open. While the Biden Administration do present these kinds of ideas, policies, right thing. dithers and conflicts itself, Republicans and beliefs directly to the American are leading the charge to embrace people, they choose them over the science and safely get kids back in the classroom. socialist agenda we see coming from the Democratic Party. Another example: forest fires. Up and down the west This a messy and uncertain time for our nation, but we coast last summer, the air was so thick from forest fire can get through it. Difficult times almost always require tough smoke that healthy adults couldn’t go outside. Democrat decisions, hard work, and yes – standing for things that many governors had few answers other than to wag their fingers don’t want to hear. We can face this truth. And when we do, about climate change and equivocate on the Green New our conservative truth can start to lift up our nation again, and Deal. Meanwhile, Republicans are pushing for sensible forest our best days will appear ahead. RF management reforms based on decades of data revealing just how mismanaged our public forests have become. Forget bad Jaime Herrera Beutler represents the 3rd District of climate agreements that let China off the hook; reducing our Washington in the U.S. House of Representatives. 20

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We Sit At A Crossroads by NANCY MACE

For decades, Washington acted like they knew better This is a vision of America which voters of all than the American people. Politicians and unelected backgrounds can get behind, an attractive alternative to the bureaucrats took voters’ hard-earned money and used it to increasingly radical, government-controlled vision of the crush American businesses, keep American workers from Democratic Party. moving up, and hinder American families from living their We understand people, not politicians, should be in own lives. The perspectives of those outside the Beltway control of their money, their work, and their lives. With this bubble were cast aside and ignored by those elected to message, we have an opportunity to grow our party to new represent them. heights. But over the last four years, Republicans flipped the We also must renew our focus on the American people script. and not one person, but on all Americans who feel left We delivered historic tax reform behind. Americans want to be sure allowing middle-class Americans that they can find a good job, send to keep more of their hard-earned their kids to a good school, keep more money. We repealed cumbersome of their hard-earned money, and live, regulations and saw businesses work and retire in the greatest, most flourish. We passed comprehensive free country in the world. reforms to a justice system which Ideas like limiting the size of spent more time and money government, common sense, freedom creating new criminals than actually and entrepreneurship are principles protecting our communities. We almost any American can see the value empowered American scientists to in. Whether you’re a single mother deliver a vaccine to combat the most forced to send your kids to a failing dangerous virus in modern memory school because some bureaucrat says in record time. so, or an entrepreneur who can’t grow The American people seized their business because some politician this opportunity with both hands. For is playing games in Washington — the first time in our nation’s history, these are real concepts Americans can We can either cling to there were more jobs available than rally behind, but not if they can’t see the personality-driven, past the divisive and toxic rhetoric there were workers to fill them. Businesses of all sizes grew attached to them. conflict-oriented, usin both number of employees and We sit at a crossroads: one that vs-them tactics of the cash flow. Companies which fled could determine not only the future of past, or we can look overseas during the Obama years the Republican Party, but the future of brought jobs and billions of dollars our country. We can either cling to the forward to a party back home. Unemployment reached personality-driven, conflict-oriented, based on our future. historic lows across the board, us-vs-them tactics of the past, or we including among women and people can look forward to a party based on of color. Working Americans saw our future. RF their wages and benefits go up for the first time in decades. We embraced entrepreneurship, freedom, and economic Nancy Mace represents the 1st District of South Carolina in prosperity. the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Ideas that matter, since 1965.“

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One Year Into the Fight Against COVID-19


Q&A with Dr. Eric Toner

Most disasters or tragic events have a clear starting point. The terrorist attacks on September, 11, 2001. Hurricane Katrina making landfall on August 29, 2005. Japan bombing Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. These dates are seared into our collective consciousness because they are moments that changed our nation and the world. The COVID-19 pandemic is different in that it did not begin at any one moment or on any single day. Rather, it rolled in slowly like a storm on the horizon, first raising questions, and then causing worry, before bringing life as we know it to a complete stop in early March of last year. Twelve months after the storm rolled in, there are promising signs that the storm is starting to slowly roll out. Deaths are down, case counts are falling, and the number of Americans being vaccinated is increasing every day. And yet with reports out of Europe and Africa and South America about rapidly-spreading variants that may be resistant to the current vaccines, concerns have arisen about whether the pandemic is really coming to an end, or whether the virus is mutating into a different form that will continue to threaten us and has the potential to spread out of control. The Ripon Forum recently asked Dr. Eric Toner about these concerns and his thoughts on America’s battle against the coronavirus one year into the fight. Dr. Toner knows this battle better than most. As a Senior Scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and a Senior Scientist in the Department of Environmental Health and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, his primary areas of interest are healthcare preparedness for catastrophic events, pandemic influenza, and medical response to bioterrorism. He also serves as Managing Editor of the online newsletter Clinicians’ Biosecurity News and is an Associate Editor of the journal Health Security, the leading peer-reviewed journal in this field. Last summer, as the virus was taking hold across the nation, he authored an essay for the Forum about the importance of wearing a mask and other keys to staying heathy in this age of COVID-19.

Forum: One year into the Forum: Talk for a moment fight against the coronaviabout the threat posed by COrus, what has surprised you, VID variants. Where are we what has disappointed you, in the effort to identify the and what do you consider our variants here in America, and greatest success? what steps are being taken to Dr. Toner: I was surprised by minimize the possibility they how well the various public health will spread out of control? interventions (masking, distancDr. Toner: The threat posed ing, density reduction, ventilaby the variants is uncertain. The tion) worked in limiting spread of B.1.1.7 (UK) variant spreads more the disease. I was disappointed (to readily than prior strains and is say the least) by the failure of the becoming more common in the [Trump] Administration to follow, U.S. but at least so far it has not Dr. Eric Toner encourage, or enforce the public been associated with large scale health guidance. outbreaks. Our greatest success has been getting multiple Some of the other variants are somewhat less vulvery effective vaccines in less than a year of the start nerable to the current vaccines but importantly the of the pandemic. vaccines still seem to work adequately. The key to RIPON FORUM March 2021


to an end because people built up immunity, and the virus mutated into a milder form over time. How will this pandemic come to an end, and will this year look any different than the Forum: How about the vaccine rollout? Are last one in terms of masking, maintaining soyou pleased with the way production and dis- cial distance, and adhering to other behaviors tribution is being ramped up, and what, if any, that will keep us all safe? additional actions need to be taken to ensure Dr. Toner: I agree with John and I think the that the American people are being vaccinated same thing will happen with SARS CoV-2. I believe in the most expeditious and coordinated way? it will become a relatively mild seasonal illness like Dr. Toner: Despite many people’s frustration the flu in many ways (and like the other human corowith getting a vaccination appointment, the rollout naviruses) and that we will get periodic COVID vachas gone quite well cinations. overall. We have The U.S. is in more vaccine sooner the top three of than expected and countries for the we are administering number of vaccinathe vaccines faster tions per capita, and than expected. the rate of vaccinaThe U.S. is in the tion is accelerating top three of counas more and more tries for the number vaccine is manufacof vaccinations per tured. capita, and the rate I think the soof vaccination is accial distancing will celerating as more end this year as case and more vaccine is counts go way down manufactured. –perhaps even by this summer. I hope Nurses administer a Covid-19 vaccine at an old TJ Forum: If a that mask wearing Maxx store used by Lynchburg Fire Department as a vaccine booster during flu and cold mass Covid-19 vaccination site in Lynchburg, Virginia is needed to offer season remains the on March 13, 2021. additional protecnew normal. tion against one of the variants, how Forum: Bill will that impact The key to controlling the variants Gates and others the effort to rehave called COis getting most of the population open our schools, VID-19 a wakevaccinated ASAP and continuing further reopen up call in that it the economy, and public health interventions to reduce could have been a generally return lot worse in terms spread until that happens. life to the way it of lethality, and used to be? Will it has opened our set things back by eyes to the fact two months? Three months? Or is that just too that pandemics can strike at any time. What difficult to say at this point in time? -- if any -- steps are being taken at this point Dr. Toner: I doubt it will affect any of those to prevent and prepare for the next pandemic, things because the current vaccines provide some and what more needs to be done? substantial protection. I think it just means that we Dr. Toner: I think he is right. The first thing we all may be getting booster shots a bit later – maybe need to do is a thorough autopsy of that happened in in the fall or winter. this pandemic and that will take some time. There clearly will be work to do in the realm of diagnostic Forum: We interviewed author John Bar- testing, public health infrastructure, medical supply ry last fall about the Great Influenza of chains, and disease surveillance, among many oth1918. He said he thought that pandemic came ers. RF controlling the variants is getting most of the population vaccinated ASAP and continuing public health interventions to reduce spread until that happens.


RIPON FORUM March 2021

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News & Events

Johnson & Phillips Discuss Efforts of Problem Solvers Caucus to Find Common Ground WASHINGTON, DC — Two members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus appeared before a virtual meeting of The Ripon Society and Franklin Center on March 4th, delivering remarks about their efforts to bridge the political divide in Congress and areas where common ground can be achieved in the coming year. The members were Republican Congressman Dusty Johnson, who was elected in 2018 and represents the AtLarge District of South Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips, who represents the 3rd District of Minnesota in the House and was also elected in 2018. Johnson spoke first, kicking off his remarks by recalling the last COVID relief package which was enacted in December, and the unheralded role his colleague played in passing the bill. “Folks like Senators Manchin and Cassidy and Collins deserve a ton of credit for finally pulling together the COVID-19 relief bill,” Johnson said. “But I think the snowball at the top of the hill that triggered that avalanche didn’t come from Cassidy or Collins or Manchin. It came from Dean Phillips. And it was for months prior to that, that Dean reached out — called me and other members, both Democrats and Republicans, of the Problem Solvers Caucus — and just said, ‘It is absurd that Nancy won’t come off $2 or 3 trillion, and Mitch won’t come off $500 billion. This is no way to run a railroad.’ “Dean was a pain in the ass. He was insistent. And he had a righteous indignation — not an anger that all too often characterizes our modern politics. 26

It was not anger. It was not hate. It was a righteous indignation. He knew we could do better. He had also taken the time to develop personal relationships with both Democrats and Republicans alike. He had taken the time to give us a sense of what his soul was like so that we trusted him. And frankly, it was the House that first unveiled a $908 billion package which ultimately the Senate picked up and, as even they will admit, used as their framework. So I am grateful to him — a great American and a great Congressman.”

As for where bipartisan agreement might be found in 2021, Johnson pointed to several key areas. “I think the Democrats will work to shore up the ACA,” he observed, “and there will certainly be some Republicans that will be interested in doing that with them. There will of course be areas like WRDA and NDAA, which are areas of traditional bipartisan agreement. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention infrastructure. I won’t belabor that because everybody’s been talking about that. But one component of particular importance is infrastructure broadband.” Johnson said he also hoped consensus could be reached on criminal justice reform. “Congress took a step forward two RIPON FORUM March 2021

and a half years ago with the First Step Act,” he stated. “It was very modest. If we can get our friends in the Democratic leadership not to overreach, I think there is a massive, important and substantial victory to be won for this country in criminal justice reform at the federal level.” Phillips opened his remarks the same way that Johnson did — with praise for his colleague across the aisle. “Congress is filled with people who come in on a search and destroy mission, to destroy those who look at things differently and have different life experiences,” the Minnesota lawmaker stated. “One of the great blessings of my service so far has been to befriend Dusty Johnson, a man of such integrity and honor, intelligence. I’ve learned a lot from Dusty. I hope to learn more, and these are the friendships from which I think the country can thrive. We are just one example, but I believe we all have a responsibility to take steps in this direction if we are going to realize what I think is the best of America.” Phillips then turned his attention to an event that represents the complete opposite of what is best about America — the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. “It was a moment that I know Dusty and I and our fellow Members will never forget,” he stated. “It reminds us all of the fragility of democracy generally, and in the United States of America, more specifically. And if we do not unify collectively to preserve our Republic, we’re going to be subject to more January 6ths in the future. It is a virus. Ironically in

a year that we had COVID, we also have Congress is first and foremost how Force should be evenly divided by party. a virus of mean spiritedness, of disdain, human it is. But it’s the lack of basic Those thugs certainly would have strung and misinformation. That’s not a political kindergarten lessons that every single up anybody with these pins without statement. It’s one that we have to reckon one of us remember. Listen to one asking what their party was. And I with. We’re not going to legislate our another. Respect one another. Celebrate think it is a growing infection as Dean way out of this. To the contrary, we have differences. Learn from people who see talked about that could kill not only our to inspire one another to do better. And things differently. Republic, but also the Republican and that’s my mission.” “That’s where the Problem Solvers Democratic parties. So best get equal It is also one of the reasons Phillips come in. We have dinners together, number of hands on the deck on that.” joined the Problem Solvers Caucus. Democrats and Republicans breaking Johnson and Phillips were also asked “If we led the House,” he stated, “it bread, getting to know each other. We their thoughts about whether bipartisan would be transformational. It would be sit at the table. We do debate. It is the agreement can be reached on another exactly, I believe, what our Founders had only one where I actually talk policy in critical challenge facing our country — intended. We debate, we deliberate, we meaningful ways with colleagues on climate change. sometimes argue, and we sometimes get both sides of the aisle. So it is possible, “Within the Problem Solvers,” frustrated. But we respect one another. but I don’t think it’s going to happen until Johnson said, “I think you could get a very We bring different life experiences and we see changes in the leadership on both high level of engagement and interest. I policy ideas to the table. We represent sides of the aisle, in both chambers, and think you could get near unanimity within very different constituencies, but bring a new spirit. We are maybe three the group that carbon is an issue, that we build trust. And as we have seen or four seats away from that. How we there is a role for American leadership in between leaders McConnell, Schumer, get there is awfully complicated. But it’s the world on this issue, and that there is McCarthy, and Pelosi, some need for timely the absence of trust action. is as dangerous of a “If I’m bullish “If we do not unify collectively to preserve virus as COVID or on the willingness of our Republic, we’re going to be subject to misinformation. And the Problem Solvers more January 6ths in the future.” that’s why the Problem to act, I am still Solvers Caucus gives somewhat bearish Dean Phillips me hope. on the likelihood Remarks to The Ripon Society “As I’ve told our of that action being March 4, 2021 replicated in a Co-chairs, Tom Reed and Josh Gottheimer, bipartisan way. I I think it’s time that we start acting more possible. And I’m sure not going to rest don’t know that Speaker Pelosi can like a party than just a caucus. Because until we do.” afford to bring a climate solutions bill to conversation is wonderful and trust is a Johnson agreed, and pointed to the floor that would appeal to me. And I great foundation, but ultimately if we some specific steps that can be taken to want to address climate. I really do. I just don’t start changing the way that Congress rebuild relationships and heal some of think it will be infinitely easier for her to operates, we will have missed the most the mistrust that currently exists in the get to 218 among her own members than important work of our lifetimes and the House. it will be by crossing the aisle. And I think one that would leave the best legacy for “I think the magnetometers outside that’s a damn shame.” all of us. And that is our mission. That’s the chamber are devoid of any security Phillips concurred. Dusty’s mission. That’s my mission, to rationale, and actual intelligence,” he “I think that’s a fair assessment,” affect the social design of Congress, the stated bluntly. “I have had technical he stated. “In fact, I would argue that physical design of Congress, and the professionals within the Capitol security climate policy is no longer domestic organizational design of Congress. It’s apparatus admit, not in so many words, policy by definition. It’s global policy. woefully broken.” that they are not tactically justifiable. To have these debates and deliberations Following their remarks, the two And I think it has a toxic impact. So that only in the United States is a mistake, lawmakers were asked a number of would be number one. because if we don’t do it in concert with questions, including one about the toxic “Number two, we need to blow up our friends and even our adversaries environment in Congress and how a the orientation of new members. The way around the world, I think it will all be sense of trust can be restored on Capitol it is now is still segregated to an alarming for naught and it actually will take a toll Hill. degree by party. It should be the second on America. I happen to be a fan of a “It starts with kindergarten lessons,” or third week before people even know carbon fee and dividend, a conservative Phillips said, responding first. What I who the Democrats or Republicans are. notion, of course. I think that’s a darn find so strange about the United States “I also think the January 6th Task good start. “ RF RIPON FORUM March 2021


Name: Spencer J. Cox Occupation: Governor of Utah.

Book(s) you’ve read that you’re recommending to friends: A Time to Build by Yuval Levin, Them by Ben Sasse, Love Your Enemies by Arthur Brooks, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin, and too many more… Lesson(s) in life that you’re now trying to impress upon your kids: Hard work makes life easier (i.e. stop complaining about the farm). Kindness, humility and empathy first. Politics last. Avoid a scarcity mindset and practice abundance — put other people first. Always be honest and selfaware. Most people would prefer to spend time around a deeply flawed person who knows it rather than an almost perfect person who thinks they are. Top priorities during your first term as Utah’s Governor: The only thing that matters right now is getting Utahns vaccinated against COVID-19. But we’ve also got an ambitious 500-day plan we’re calling the One Utah Roadmap. The Roadmap sets major goals around strengthening Utah’s economy, investing in education, improving rural infrastructure and economic future, improving health outcomes and access, expanding equity and opportunity to women and people of color, and streamlining and modernizing state government. We’ve assigned teams to tackle each priority and report back every two weeks, and I’m thrilled by how much we’ve accomplished already. During the campaign last year, you recorded joint ads with your Democratic opponent to promote civility. What’s wrong with our political discourse today and how do we fix it? All too often in public debate today, those who hold different political views are demonized and vilified. Instead of focusing on weak policies or strategic flaws, attacks have become personal and hateful, preventing us from finding common ground and solutions. As leaders, we need to lean into persuasion, steer clear of character assassination and revive the art of the compromise. Finally, a prediction – how are the Jazz going to do this year? As a lifelong Jazz fan, I try to never get my hopes too high. But there is mounting evidence that this is the best Jazz team ever. And this past 20+ games has been one of the best runs in NBA history. But I’m a little superstitious and don’t dare jinx it with a prognostication. 28

RIPON FORUM March 2021


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