Conservative on Campus
Photo by Heather Willard
Ambitious and unafraid, Anna Lippincott is proud to be Ohio University’s conservative female leader.
By Hayley Harding
Anna Lippincott has already solved the world’s problems
She had a jumpstart on the typical diplomat. Since the age of 13, she spent summers with her grandparents in Massachusetts. On their back porch, she would stay up the whole night talking with them, discussing the issues they thought affected the world most and how to fix those problems.
The nights that started at sunset and rarely ended before sunrise shaped Lippincott as a person. It was during those nights she learned how to form strong arguments and the proper way to watch the evening news. Most important to her now, those nights were where she realized her love of politics.
Another important trait she credits her grandparents for is her conservative beliefs. Lippincott serves as the president of the Ohio University chapter of College Republicans, a national organization dedicated to supporting conservative ideals on college campuses.
Her views are an anomaly for women her age, even if she won’t admit it while talking about how only around a third of the members in her “CR group text” are female. It’s a national trend: only 36 percent of women identify as Republicans, compared to 52 percent of women who identify as Democrats, according to a 2014 study from Pew Research Center. To Lippincott, gender serves as a motivation rather than a hindrance. It’s what inspires her to lead others to get involved with the political process, despite what she says is a misconception that the GOP works against women.
“The GOP is the party of women. We’re the party of suffrage,” Lippincott says while wearing a long-sleeve College Republicans shirt on an unseasonably warm Saturday. “Republicans treat women as equals instead of special interest groups. Literally all issues are women’s issues.”
Lippincott spent last summer working at the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., where she helped provide tools to promote that line of thinking for other young conservative women. She wants people to understand girls and politics can mix, and she believes “vocal girls in politics are pretty helpful.”
She folds herself into a tiny ball on her couch, a pronounced contrast from her big dreams. She talks about everything from working on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign to her experiences working in a whaling museum as a teenager—even her most far-flung passions are anything but small.
No one cares how tall she is when she walks into College Republican’s Wednesday meetings, though. Everyone in the room greets her. People ask for her advice before tweeting out jokes about Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. She and the other girls in the room get excited about CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, taking place at the beginning of March. There is no need for her to raise her voice to begin meetings; others just listen when she starts talking.
Her male counterparts—she’s the only female on the seven-person executive team—heckle her gently as she moves through announcements, inviting members to join the College Republicans executives for an open board meeting next week.
The board meetings are “always a good time,” her vice president, Aric Kaskey, says as he towers behind her. “It’s fun to piss Anna off. Oh, and sometimes she makes us cookies.”
Even though they make her angry, the board members love Lippincott. Kaskey admires her “go-getter attitude,” saying “she’s got about as much energy as anyone you’ll ever meet.” He also appreciates how she lets each member of College Republicans play to his or her strengths.
“Anna is organized and structured, but she’s not some totalitarian. She allows open discussions and admits her flaws,” Kaskey says. “My freshman year, our president just didn’t listen and did things his own way, even when he didn’t know what he was doing. Anna delegates and lets us do the things we’re good at.”
Before sitting down in the almost-empty lecture hall she picked for meetings, Anna reminds members they should be coming to every meeting. Tonight, Republicans fill less than a quarter of the seats. As dues-paying members, she tells them, they should be giving up at least a bit of their time for the organization. Anna certainly is: if you call her on any given afternoon, she’ll answer, but something she’s arranging for the group is probably distracting her.
Photo by Heather Willard
After her announcements, she sits in the front row to watch clips from last week’s GOP debate. Everyone is laughing, but Anna is already emotionally done with the election.
“It’s fun to follow, but we’re in for a long summer,” she says of the crowded Republican field. “I’m sick of it already.”
It is for perhaps just this reason Lippincott doesn’t want to be a politician herself. Instead, she wants to go into communications. She graduates in May with a degree in journalism as well as political science. She’s already begun working for Republican Bill Johnson as he campaigns to get re-elected in Ohio’s sixth congressional district, a job she plans to move to Columbus for this summer.
Her first job out of college won’t be an easy one. The sixth district spreads across almost the entire eastern side of the state and manages to border Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky. Anna explains Johnson’s constituents are all very different, noting “what matters in Mahoning County won’t matter at all to those in Athens County.”
In approximately two years, she plans to take this experience and use it to attend University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government. There, she wants to pursue a graduate degree in public administration—or, at least, that’s the plan for now. She grins when she admits she might change her mind at any point.
Lippincott, like many seniors on the cusp of graduation, only has a fuzzy idea of what the future may hold for her. She isn’t worried, though; she’s had the answers for quite some time, after all.
“My grandpa and I already have it all figured out,” Anna says, laughing. “We just need everyone else to listen to us.”