Rep. John Ratcliffe recently spoke to a group of students with the Congressional Student Leadership Program during a stop in Sherman. The meeting was one of two appearances Ratcliffe made in Sherman Wednesday as the congressman toured his district this week.
The student leadership program, which is organized by Ratcliffe’s office, offers learning opportunities for students in topics ranging from leadership and public speaking to critical thinking and other topics relating to government. Ratcliffe’s appearance coincided with lessons and discussions on federalism.
As an example of how government affects everyday aspects of life, Ratcliffe asked the students to look at their paychecks and notice the taxes that are deducted. Ratcliffe said these funds are used to pay for the various services that the government provides, including the salary for elected representatives.
“When you talk about the federal government and people have conversations about politics, they are talking about your money — they are talking about what you work hard for,” he said.
Before the leadership meeting, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented Ratcliffe with its Spirit of Enterprise award in a separate event. The award recognizes Ratcliffe’s voting record on pro-business topics and bills that are of interest to the U.S. Chamber.
During Wednesday’s leadership meeting, Ratcliffe spoke briefly on topics ranging from his history as a lawyer and what brought him into the world of politics to the concept of leadership. Ratcliffe said one of the key aspects of good leadership is the ability to bring about a position and argue it without attacking the other party.
“Persuading people on why you believe something and why they should take that position — that is what good leaders do,” he said.
Following the brief discussion, Ratcliffe opened the floor for questions from the nearly 20 students present for the meeting. The first question was related to the courts system and how two different courts can rule differently from each other.
“For the same reason people can have different opinions,” Ratcliffe said. “The words are all in black and white, but the meaning is all up to interpretation.”
Ratcliffe went on to say that this reflects the importance of the U.S. Supreme Court in its interpretation of congressional actions.
Another student asked whether Ratcliffe had any mentors who helped him when he first took office. Ratcliffe said he quickly became friends with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who offered him advice on what issues to take a leadership position on, and which to leave to others.
“A piece of advice he gave me … was, ‘Focus on the things you do well, get better at them and shut up about the rest,’” Ratcliffe said.
Among the students at the leadership meeting was Anna High School senior Alexy Schofield, who was attending her second meeting. Schofield said she first learned about the program while looking to apply to a service academy. She added that this was the first time she had the opportunity to meet the representative.
“I am very excited to meet him,” she said. “I think that it will be very cool to meet a local leader who is doing things for us in Washington, D.C.”