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"Start Asking Questions"
Ventura Star, September 19, 2004

By Terry Paulson, PhD

Thought leaders have an obligation to ask the right questions on behalf of the people they are trying to influence. As Naguib Mahfouz, Egyptian Nobel Prize winner, once said: "You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions." One of the advantages of age and experience is that it finally dawns on you that questions are often far more important than answers. Questions jump-start thoughts, and thoughts jump-start choices and actions. Prior to making your choice of who to vote for President in the November 2nd election, here are fifteen questions to ponder:

Since our future is not found in the rearview mirror, which presidential candidate has articulated the clearest vision for the future for America and its role in the world?

Whether you approve or disapprove, Bush has a known track record in office with his handling of 9/11, the Afghan War and the Iraq War, but what evidence have you seen in John Kerry's 20 years of service in the Senate and in this campaign that gives you confidence that he would be better at leading our country as President?

Can you name one accomplishment as a Senator or one major legislation that John Kerry has sponsored?

When Senator McCain said at the Republican Convention that the choice was not between war or peace but between war and "something far worse," would you rather fight terrorists on our streets or take the fight to where they are in the Middle East or wherever terrorists try to hide?

When we know that when President Clinton was doing his best to bring Israel and Palestine to a peace agreement that terrorists were planning 9/11, do you think that better diplomacy and a call for more U.N. and ally involvement by Kerry will be the best way to bring an end to the terrorism threat here and around the world?

With what Kerry has said about our current coalition members, at one time calling them the "coalition of the coerced and the bribed," do you think he will be able to deliver on his promise to deliver a stronger, broader and willing coalition in fighting terrorism?

No matter how firm Kerry proves to be as President, would terrorists still see a Kerry victory as a statement that America does not have the resolve to see the war on terrorism and the war for peace in Iraq through to a positive conclusion?

What kind of message will Americans be sending to the fledgling Iraq government by putting John Kerry in office and kicking out the man who kindled their hope for liberty and helped bring them to the edge of democracy?

In what you know about George W. Bush, do you believe that he would purposely lie to the American people about his reasons for going into Iraq and thus risk the lives of American young men and women and his credibility with the voters when he was riding a strong wave of approval for his leadership in 9/11 and in the war in Afghanistan?

If you are a "security Mom" or a "security Dad," which leader do you think will do the best job in insuring the future security of America?

With growing evidence of economic progress (unemployment is at 5.4% and 1.7 million jobs have been created in 2004) that has been made since the late-term Clinton recession and the horrible economic impact from 9/11, are you willing to risk changing course on the tax relief plan and free-enterprise incentive system that is now finally producing results?

Knowing that the rich already pay a higher percentage of the federal income taxes after the Bush Tax Relief plan than before, are you willing to elect John Kerry President when he has made it clear that he would only raise taxes on the most successful and potentially risk the economic impact of a lower incentive that might create?

Do you want a President who punishes the successful with even higher taxes or should we help more Americans become successful by keeping the American Dream incentive strong for all who are willing to earn it?

Which leader do you think will do a better job of keeping more of your hard-earned money in your pocket?

Finally, let's bring it back to leadership--Which leader by his words and actions gives you the sense that he has the strong and clear values needed to stay the course as a leader in these difficult times?

Those are my questions. You supply your own answers, but do so before you vote November 2!

Terry Paulson, Ph.D., of Agoura Hills, CA is a professional speaker on making change work and author of The Dinner: The Political Conversation Your Mother Told You Never to Have.

—Terry Paulson, PhD

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