Influential Conservative Activist Ramesh Ponnuru to Visit CC


Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor of National Review, contributing editor of National Affairs, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and columnist for Bloomberg View, will be visiting Colorado College on Feb. 27. Ponnuru offers a different view than the majority of CC students and should provide an unique academic dialogue.

Ponnuru grew up outside of Kansas City, Kan., and graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a B.A. in history. A leader of the Reform Conservative Movement, he is sympathetic to a greater emphasis on populist and civic nationalist themes in American conservatism. However, Ponnuru has been critical of both President Donald Trump’s personal conduct in office and some of his distinctive policies, such as trade protectionism.

Despite this, Ponnuru has still been supportive of many of the more traditional conservative priorities pursued by the administration, such as its commitment to deregulation and appointing constitutional originalists to the federal judiciary. A convert to Catholicism, he is also a staunch critic of abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research, and has argued that these practices are scientifically and morally unsound.

President Trump’s victory in 2016, especially his triumph in the Republican primary over candidates with more orthodox conservative views, has led some on the right, most recently Fox News host Tucker Carlson, to reassess their support of free market capitalism. 

However, years before Trump entered the political arena, the Reform Conservative intellectual movement sought a new political synthesis. The synthesis would incorporate and reconcile the libertarian and populist sentiments of the Tea Party, while avoiding the perceived laissez-faire dogmatism, which allegedly doomed Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid. 

Instead of seeking to roll back the entitlement state created by the New Deal and Great Society, Ponnuru and other Reform Conservative writers — including New York Times columnist Ross Douthat, National Affairs Founding Editor Yuval Levin, and National Review Executive Editor Reihan Salam — have advocated reforms to government programs in fields such as health insurance and education that would enhance individual choice and market accountability while maintaining and strengthening the social safety-net.

 He has also proposed increased child tax credits to help working parents form families, eliminating regulations such as occupational licensing that act as barriers to entrepreneurs, and reforming monetary policy in order to promote macroeconomic stability. His efforts to develop innovative conservative solutions to pressing contemporary economic and social problems were culminated in the publication of the 121-page policy report Room to Grow in 2014. Senators Mike Lee and Marco Rubio have become champions for many of these Reform Conservative policies in Congress.

Mr. Ponnuru’s speech at Colorado College will be delivered in the Gates Common Room at 7:00 p.m. on Wed. Feb. 27. He will focus on diagnosing the present American political moment, including the state of the Republican Party and the increasing polarization of American society, as well as his reformist agenda for the conservative movement. Students and community members are encouraged to participate in the event during question time. The event will be open to the public. 

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