Jewish World Review June 24, 2002 / 14 Tamuz, 5762

Lewis A. Fein

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He proves the GOP is still California's party of optimism and growth -- One of the more popular icons of celebrity contact is an autographed photo: a series of nearly identical poses, qualified by a president's smile or a senator's handshake, inscribed with generic greetings -- signed with broad strokes and electronic precision, expressing support for "All Your Hard Work" and "A Job Well Done."

Yet, for Michael Wissot, Republican nominee for California's 41st assembly district, the man in the pictures -- the man beside former boss John McCain, grinning before Rudy Giuliani and standing alongside Michael Deaver -- is Mr. Wissot himself, a genuine political star; a young entrepreneur and effective campaign strategist. For, in a state where the Democratic Party is large and liberalism strong, Michael Wissot proves the ideological home of Ronald Reagan remains brilliantly alive.

Wissot proves the GOP is still California's party of optimism and growth because of an idea -- recited like an engraver's seal, before images of Reagan's heroic actions -- that motivates all voters: the idea that public schools must improve, taxes lower and independence thrive. These ideas are the same principles that will not only energize California's Republican Party, but inspire voters from other political persuasions.

He states his vision for California with ideas that effectively communicate (and thus broaden) the Republican Party's national appeal:

"I returned home to California because it was clear that my fellow community members -- Republican, Democrat, Independent and others -- were not well represented in Sacramento. My platform speaks to a more honorable mode of leadership that transcends party lines -- giving people a stronger voice in their government."


But these ideas are not merely campaign boilerplate, rhetoric delivered before countless crowds and against tired faces -- audio feedback that awakens even the most restful voter that, indeed, not every candidate contains Wissot's sincerity or knowledge. No, Michael Wissot wants to particularly revitalize an area (ruled by desert and now tamed by progress) that requires greater autonomy and more respect, Southern California's San Fernando Valley.

For the Valley is suburbia's blueprint, not to mention the elusive American Dream: a diverse community, where mosques, temples and churches - each adorned by outdoor lettering, celebrating local triumphs or commemorating spiritual events - coexist peacefully; where schools embrace and graduate a perpetually eager bunch; where neighbors know one another; where, in short, individual divisions become collective sources of support. And, amidst the problems that complicate this attainable vision, Michael Wissot has a compelling, rational and popular response -- Secede!

Wissot wants to extend an idea that, should it win approval here in Southern California, will reconfigure national politics. An idea that, regardless of how vehemently bureaucrats deny it and partisans distort it, makes perfectly good sense. An idea that suggests - no, proclaims - that taxpayers deserve value for their money.

The idea of value and governmental competence explains Wissot's approval of Valley secession. He looks responsibly at a problem, and delivers a message that - when repeated to voters or recorded for listeners - sounds like an anthem: TRUST. Trust local voters to manage local issues. Trust local towns with debates of local significance. Trust local citizens with local government, period.

"We need to shift the dialogue from entitlement to duty," says Wissot. "My community needs me to assume a larger responsibility than what has typically been expected. I accept that role with one underlying assurance. If we bridge our hearts with our ideas, the possibilities are limitless."

The issue of trust is Wissot's most refreshing message, largely because it is so necessary and unnecessarily ignored. Yet, Wissot does not need, nor do Republicans demand, responses against tired arguments about more government or higher taxes. All Wissot requires - indeed, what most Republicans already know - is an acknowledgment of the obvious -- that some incumbents remain the party of government, not people.

This political race is a metaphor for national change. Should Wissot get the opportunity to fulfill his promises and enact his proposals California will once again be a laboratory for new ideas. The state will renew its compact with smaller and more effective government. The state will embrace economic mobility and personal security. The state will be, like its own motto proclaims and Wissot himself believes, a land of golden opportunity.

JWR contributor Lewis A. Fein is a writer and Internet entrepreneur in Los Angeles.Comment by clicking here.


© 2002, Lewis A. Fein