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Let’s Reclaim America’s Optimism Advantage

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On this New Year’s Day, America needs more than a parade and great football games; our people need renewed optimism in living our American Dream. Instead of looking for government fixes or some magical new president who will make things right, we need a kick in the pants to get busy making America work no matter what obstacles we face.

At the 1992 Republican Convention, Ronald Reagan shared what he considered the secret of his success as our President: “I appealed to your best hopes, not your worst fears, to your confidence, rather than your doubts.”

Oh, how we need leadership like that in America today. As we start this year, too many people feel powerless. Inflation may be coming down, but high fuel and food prices have taken their toll on far too many Americans. Watching the invasion on our Southern border means too many of our cities are being overwhelmed with no end in sight. We wonder if there is anything we can do but watch. The sense of despair and helplessness is contagious, but so is optimism. What attitude do you spread?

There is more than you think within your control. Every day, you make choices to make your situation better or worse. Studies of optimism find that optimism comes from a track record of overcoming obstacles. If you have had obstacles the last few years and are still making it work, pat yourself on the back. Be a proud survivor, not a victim so many seem to take pride in claiming to be.

Make each day count by starting your day doing one thing to make your situation better. Find one way to cut expenses. Find a way to increase your resources. Make a call or visit to nurture your network of colleagues and friends. Learn from your mistakes and celebrate your successes, both big and small. Nurture your faith realizing that God gave you gifts and give thanks every day for the blessings you have. Lest you forget, you’re blessed to live in America. People risk everything to come here, and few want to leave.

Yes, this is an election year, and it would sure be a gift to have a leader who would nurture the hope and optimism of all our citizens. So as the campaigns progresses and you listen to potential leaders vying for your support, ask yourself a few key questions:

Do they want to control your choices or ensure your freedoms?

Do they want to make you more or less dependent on government?

Do they want to increase the size of government and entitlements and the taxes needed to fund them or decrease them?

Do they want to force your children to go to public schools that don’t’ get the results your children deserve, or are they willing to give you the freedom to pick the schools your children need?

Do they disagree with their opponents and state why, or do they demean them and call them names?

Do they want to grow the size of government and its debt, or do they want to decrease both?

Do they believe in the citizens they represent, or do they convey that they are the answer to America’s future?

Do they take responsibility for their mistakes and actions or quickly deny responsibility and blame others?

No President is perfect. It’s easy to promise and a lot harder to deliver. Reagan focused on three things: an optimism based on free-enterprise innovation, smaller government, and lower taxes. He delivered on all but smaller government. As Reagan advisor Arnold Laffer confessed, “When it came to cutting welfare payments and school lunch,…it was very hard. Someone would come over and say, ‘How can you cut school lunches?’ Reagan would reply, ‘I guess you’re right; I’ll tell them not to cut that one.’”

The pressure to keep growing government is tempting and easy to understand, but it is not what America was created for. America’s form of government was designed to protect citizens from an over-controlling, over-taxing government. We need to reclaim that passion for freedom and self-reliance. Our founding citizens wanted the opportunity to pursue happiness, not happiness given to them at the expense of other taxpayers.

The election is months away. So I’m going to borrow on the optimism of Ronald Reagan to inspire us all on this first day of 2024: “I’m not taking your time…to ask you to trust me. Instead, I ask you to trust yourself. That is what America is all about… It’s the power of millions of people like you who will determine what will make America great again.”

Reagan wouldn’t want us to wait for the next election. We’ve had enough of eloquent politicians who think they have all the answers. We need to believe in ourselves and get busy living our own dreams. Then, in November, let’s elect a leader who will stay out of our way and give “We the People” freedom again—freedom to fail, succeed, and thrive in our own American Dream!

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Dr. Terry Paulson is a PhD psychologist and author of The Optimism Advantage, They Shoot Managers Don't They, Speak Like a Pro, Meditations for the Trail, and The Dinner: The Political Conversation Your Mother Told You Never to Have. Since founding Paulson and Associates, Inc. in Agoura Hills, CA, Dr. Paulson has presented to such companies as IBM, 3M, Kaiser, Nationwide, SONY, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and hundreds of hospitals, government agencies, and associations. Dr. Paulson is a past president of both the Global Speakers Federation and the National Speakers Association. He’s been inducted into NSA’s CPAE Speakers Hall of Fame, an honor given to less than 230 speakers worldwide. Dr. Paulson is a long-time conservative Republican who has spoken to numerous Republican groups. He currently is a regular op-ed columnist for townhall.com and politicrossing.com. Terry brings knowledge, tasteful humor, and a passion for conservative principles to every presentation. Dr. Paulson graduated with honors from UCLA and received his PhD in psychology and an MA in theology from Fuller Graduate School of Psychology in Pasadena, CA.



 
 
 

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Elections

Will Democrats Do What They Must?

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On a warm August evening in 1974, President Richard M. Nixon said from the Oval Office that he was resigning, becoming the first president to do so. He confessed that he no longer had “a strong enough political base in the Congress” to finish his term.

Sen. Barry Goldwater, Ariz., the 1964 GOP presidential nominee, was a respected conservative leader in a Senate whose Republican ranks were less conservative than now. In a May 1973 interview with Time magazine, Goldwater had given an early warning, “If it can be proved that he (Nixon) lied, resignation would have to be considered. It would be quick. Everything would be over, ended. It wouldn’t drag out like impeachment.”

At a regular Senate Republican Conference lunch on august 6 of 1974, Goldwater had fumed: “There are only so many lies you can take, and now there has been one too many. Nixon should get his ass out of the White House today!” When he went to see President Nixon, Goldwater confided, “There’s not more than 15 senators for you.” After that showdown, the curtain on President Nixon’s presidency came down three days later.

In this challenging time in our history when President Biden’s competency is under serious question, will Democrat leaders have the courage to do the same? With this report, more Democrats and Independents will be less inclined to vote for Biden. That may very well impact the future of many Democrat politicians whose own election could be impacted if their voting base stays home. After his Wednesday night address, the evidence that Biden is in trouble is plainly obvious.

President Biden’s poll numbers are now at an all time low. The shocking Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Hur report suggests that Biden should not be indicted because Biden is “a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory” that a jury would be unlikely to convict. The Special Counsel also noted that Biden “willfully retained and disclosed classified materials after his vice presidency when he was a private citizen;” he noted that such actions “present serious risks to national security.” It is clearly a risk for Biden to remain in office.

When President Biden addressed the country after the report was disclosed, he asserted that his memory was fine, and the report confirms that he was not indicted and did nothing wrong. His comments to the press questions were combative and defensive. He took no personal responsibility, blaming his staff for the faulty storage of classified documents. His message was strident and clear-Trump is guilty, and I did nothing wrong.

If he is not competent to stand trial for his actions, how can he be confident enough to remain president? It’s time for a private confrontation by Democrat leadership. If Biden does not listen, it is time to exercise the 25th amendment option to remove him from office.

It is not easy to use that 25th Amendment option. It is even more difficult with only 9 months before a critical national election. Waiting until the Democrat Convention in August leaves little time to right the ship and promote a replacement candidate.

Democrats, do your job to clean out your own house. President Biden is not competent to meet the challenges of our time. Do it now or pay the price in November. As Republicans, we hope you let Biden remain your candidate, but that is selfish. President Biden is our current leader and his decisions impact all of us and a world in turmoil. This isn’t about politics. We can’t afford even eleven more months of a mentally incompetent President.

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Elections

Getting Beyond our Convenient Political Narratives

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There is only one movie up for Oscars that I have any interest in seeing win, “American Fiction.” This movie has the guts to call out all liberal media, book publishers, and Hollywood producers who have made it clear that the only narratives they will allow to be seen support their woke worldview.

In “American Fiction,” an author snubbed by publishers because his novels are not “black” enough decides to play a joke on the publishing industry by changing his identity to a fugitive who writes in graphic terms about what it’s “supposed to be” like to be a “black” in America. The book fits the liberal narrative and earns the author an offer of $750,000, a new movie contract, and award consideration. He’s disgusted by the liberal bias but plays along only to see a disturbing reality play out. The truth is that it pays to support liberal narratives.

Most of the Oscar nominations and comments at the ceremony prove a left-wing bias every year. That’s why fewer and fewer conservatives even watch. Where is the consideration for popular movies like “Sound of Freedom” or “Boys in the Boat?” They don’t fit the Left narratives that “nothing bad comes across an open border” or “nothing good comes out of America.”

It’s true that we all tend to fall victim to “selective scanning.” It’s tempting to search for information sources that reinforce what we want to believe. Both sides of the divide tend to say the same thing—“If you knew the ‘facts,’ you would know the ‘truth,’ ‘OK, my truth!’” Both sides of any divide have a narrative with “facts” and “expert opinion” to back their position.

There are numerous examples of well-defended narratives that keep America divided:

The COVID Vaccines are good for you vs. The COVID Vaccines have the potential to do more harm than good (You can find some research and anecdotal evidence that vaccines work and similar evidence that some people have died or developed serious illnesses).

Climate Change will result in man’s destructive vs. Climate Change has multiple causes, and we can do little to change (Clearly, there is evidence of man doing damage to the environment, and there is evidence that there have been extended warm and cold periods throughout earth’s existence with or without man).

Entitlement Programs are essential to help those who can’t help themselves. Entitlement Programs foster government dependency and prevent self-sufficiency (It’s true that people need help, but it is best provided by a distant government bureaucracy or by family, friends, and local charities who can access needs and provide focused assistance and support).

Undocumented Aliens should receive government assistance and have a path to citizenship; Illegal Aliens have committed crimes and should be deported (There is evidence that some who have crossed the open border have committed terrible crimes, but it’s also true that some have been good workers with strong family values).

Both leading candidates for the 2024 Presidential election are loved and hated. They have counter-narratives depending on your side of the divide.

The left’s Trump narrative is predictable. Once elected, President Trump will be a “dictator,” “seek revenge,” “be fatal to the American experiment,” “a felon,” and “a threat to democracy.” In Short, the left’s message is simple, “Trump is dangerous for America and should be in jail.”

The right’s narrative couldn’t be more different. President Trump will “restore America,” “ensure our freedoms,” “destroy the deep state,” and “defend the Constitution.” In short, “Trump’s been victimized by politicized accusations and will save the America we love if he can just be elected.” Both can find statements from Trump’s speeches and past actions to attempt to justify their claims.

To the right, President Biden is “senile,” a “bumbling idiot,” “too old,” “an un-American traitor,” “a ‘big guy” crook,” and “dangerous to the future of America and should be impeached and in jail.” To the left, Biden has “helped keep America open to immigrants,” “helped prevent a climate calamity,” “provides necessary benefits for minorities,” “makes the rich pay their fair share,” and “is the only person in the way of a rightwing dictatorship.” Both views can find ammunition to support their claims.

Notice that neither side likes you to watch a whole speech. They want you to see just the clips and evidence that reinforce their own narratives about the candidate. Welcome to soundbite politics!

The 2024 election is too important for our future to be left with biased narratives about two candidates. It is not just the President that you elect; it is the people and the policies they bring with them that will determine the course for America’s future.

Instead of limiting yourself to biased narratives, there is much to consider in making an informed decision on who to elect. Both candidates have a record to look at. What are their major accomplishments? Do you support what they did as President? Now, look to the future. Join those who are demanding that both parties lay out their Contract with America. What are the top five promises and priorities for each party?

Let’s get beyond the name-calling and demand that they come before the people to debate the issues that matter most. Both these candidates are more than the narratives we have created. Let’s hear from them directly and then vote. To do less is not responsible citizenship and is detrimental to the future of our amazing country.

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