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Op-Ed Archive

"Optimism Is the Winner"
The Ventura County Star, March 7, 2002

By Terry Paulson, PhD

In America, it is optimistic visionaries who win. Reagan taught us that. Clinton learned it as well. Yesterday, Bill Simon surged past the Republican front-runner and former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan to claim victory on a conservative but optimistic vision for what California can be. Pundits and columnists are already suggesting that it was his stands on social conservative issues that made the difference. A careful look at his message conveys something else. He stated frequently that social issues are important but secondary to his mission. Like Reagan before him, his message is built on an optimistic faith in the California Dream and the ability of businesses, workers and citizens to make that dream soar. His campaign was not based on what he was against, but on what he was for. He wants minimal regulations and taxes, better education, a vibrant economy, personal freedom and responsibility, and, most of all, a healthy California Dream that is designed to reignite what would be the fifth largest economy in the world. While Governor Davis is having trouble exciting even his own party, Bill Simon reignited Republicans with a passion for principles and an optimistic vision for the future.

Osama Bin Laden's terrorist attack on our homeland backfired. Rather than breaking our spirit, he rekindled our resolve and forced us to reearn the freedoms that we had come to take for granted. United we now stand against a common foe. Governor Gray Davis's decision to launch an ad attack on Dick Riordan in an attempt to fracture the party will backfire in the same way. Riordan's gracious and heartfelt concession to Bill Simon included a hint of future unity. He said to his faithful, "I told him (Bill Simon) I would join him eagerly in our crusade to get rid of Governor Davis." The last Democratic governor who invested heavily in trying to select the opponent he wanted to face was Pat Brown who was eager to face that out-of-step and arch-conservative Ronald Reagan. Gray Davis's attempt to "hijack the Republican Party" will prove no more effective than Pat Brown's attempt to pick his opponent. Davis has unleashed a united resolve that he will come to regret.

When Gray Davis won, he had Clinton in office, a budget surplus, and a contented and happy electorate who was open to new programs he could promise to deliver. He now has a history of micromanaging an energy crisis into long-term debt and a budget deficit that won't go away without a strong vibrant economy. He has an educational bureaucracy that he is indebted to that stifles needed change and improvements, an angry constituency that sees him taking away what he has promised to deliver with more cuts to come, and a post 9/11 America that has had a rebirth of patriotism and conservative principles. When you add a popular President, a respected ex-mayor of New York, and a very upset past mayor of LA who are all eager to campaign against you, I don't think Gray Davis is as happy as he tries to look.

The real political battle is now ready to begin on our journey to November, and we have an optimistic leader who is eager to stand for what is important to us. United we can win!


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