Terry Paulson

The media pundits and many Republicans themselves have all but conceded the November election. They seem paralyzed like a deer in the headlights by the mid-term election setbacks, the unpopularity of President Bush and the recent special election losses.

Some psychologists have termed the depression of our age learned helplessness-“There’s nothing I can do that will make any difference in what will happen to me, so I might as well wait until they do it to me!“ Some Republicans are settling for an early pity party and hoping that the Democrats will falter and hand the GOP a November happy accident!

John McCain may not be many conservatives’ favorite candidate, but he’s putting the rest of the party to shame by running an aggressive campaign trying to sell himself and his agenda to independents and core conservatives alike.

Where are the rest of the Republican leaders? They’re hiding or complaining! GOP Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia complained recently that "if we were dog food, they would take us off the shelf." California Gov. Schwarzenegger warns that Republicans are in danger of "dying at the box office." All this, while their core constituency faces a nightmare—four years with an inexperienced liberal president and a Democrat-controlled Senate and House of Representatives. You don’t get support by hiding—you win elections by leading!

There are no perfect candidates and no perfect strategies, but we expect our party leaders and candidates to fight for the principles and values we believe in whether they win or lose. Wayne Gretzky, the all-time NHL scoring leader, gave credit to an early coach for some compelling advice—“You miss a 100% of the shots you never take!” Winston Churchill had his own version—“I never worry about action, but only about inaction.”

It’s time for action. Don’t wait for the Democrats or for the Republican Convention. Go on the offense by coming together to communicate a 2008 Contract with America. Take the focus off of Bush and the past, and put the focus where it belongs on a simple but compelling vision for what we can and must be! Newt Gingrich has helped champion the importance of focusing on the future; it’s time the party listens.

Uniting the party behind a “Contract with America” worked in 1984 because it gave Republicans a focus they could communicate that went beyond any candidate. Many independents found that they were actually “Republicans” but didn’t know it. Parties ebb and flow, people come and go, but principles last!

Terry Paulson

Terry Paulson, PhD is a psychologist, award-winning professional speaker, author of The Optimism Advantage: 50 Simple Truths to Transform Your Attitudes and Actions into Results, and long-time columnist for the Ventura County Star.

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