From Cuspids to Congress
An Interview with Congressman-Elect, Dr. Paul Gosar
What was the first thought that popped into your head when you realized you had won the election?
What did I get myself into? The other part of it was awe. It tells me a lot about America. If you dream it and you believe it and you work hard enough, anything can come true in America.
What persuaded you to first dive into politics?
I don’t think it was all one event. I think it had a lot to do with my background, how I was raised, and my relationship with my family. I also think it has to do with how my parents encouraged us (my siblings and me) to work towards providing solutions, and how they instilled in us that, “If you weren’t part of the solution, you were part of the problem. And if you weren’t part of the solution, you were as guilty as the problem-makers.” From my upbringing I’d like to think that I have always been encouraged to make a difference. I recognize that not everyone will agree with me (they never have) but people should concede that I do get involved and I actively look to provide solutions. Hopefully I inspire others to do the same (that is, get involved). I love feeding upon people’s ideas and inspirations.
What’s interesting about this approach is that you never know what light will turn on when you are exposed to other people’s ideas and look to build on what each other is contributing. That’s essentially where it started, but from there I believe it was just a slow progression of being involved and being frustrated with some of the current issues and the general lack of common sense. It might not be from a lack of trying but I didn’t feel things were really coming together in the form of solutions...trying to help people empower themselves to get better. I believe that we need to get back to those basics and that’s what I am looking to do. I’ve learned more from failure than I have from success. If you allow failure to define you, however, well then you’re limiting yourself to it.
Are you concerned with gridlock what with a Democratic Senate and President with a new Republican-held house?
Sure, I have considered it, but I think there was a very clear message that was sent to lawmakers. The American people sent a message that, “You need to start working on our behalf - listening to us and empowering us to be a part of the solution and not just be dictated to.” With that being said, I think there will be a number of Democratic congressmen that will be looking to come back to the table now and wanting to play.
Frankly, I was apprehensive about Republicans taking over both the House and Senate because when you hold both chambers there is often a bigger chance for gridlock since it would set up an adversarial relationship with a Democratic President. What might help with this gridlock issue is that, if I am not mistaken, there are about 23 Democratic Senators that will be running for re-election next time that are from “blood-bath” states; they’re going to have to acknowledge that they’re going to have to play things differently now.
Who would you like to thank for your congressional victory?
There are so many people...Dentists have been a fabulous foundation and support mechanism - every which way: help, volunteerism, financial - everything. I would also thank District One for welcoming someone who can bring something different to the table and who doesn’t necessarily have the typical extensive political record. And of course, I’d like to thank my family.
Why do you think the district did respond to you and your platform?
I think that there are things that I as a clinician and healthcare provider can bring to the table. For example, when patients come into my office the first thing I must do is to listen - there needs to be more listening from lawmakers. When patients come into the office it goes back to first learning what the issues are, “What is causing you pain? Is it a tooth? Are you experiencing pain in your gum tissue, what is it?” And then the Doctor is looking to develop a solution. Like all dentists I look to ask pertinent questions, gather the information, and from that build and share an effective treatment plan that will address the needs of the patient. If we use this concept and shift it towards politics, I think that the American people are like patients coming into the office that are experiencing discomfort and they want to be heard.
The similarity between dentist and congressional representative is that you have to gather the pertinent information, develop a diagnosis, build a set of treatment plans/solutions, share the treatment plans/solutions and empower people to help select the one they feel would be best. I think this is a perfect mantra and I felt that people both related to it and responded to it. Beyond that, I have resided in this district for 25 years; I have lived, worked and raised a family in this district - “Main Street America.”
What happens between now and the end of the year?
First of all, my focus (as anyone who knows me might guess) will be on, “How do we achieve what we want to do? What are the goals of the people within the district, the people I am serving?” While I’ve had the opportunity to visit, talk and understand people during the campaign, it’s now in a different format, I am now their Representative. Now it’s time to move past the “fluff” and let’s talk about the hard-core sell, “What are we doing?” “Where do we need to go?” “And, what are you going to put your weight behind?” This is number one. Secondly, I will be putting together a support staff that is customer service based; a staff that will get action items done that represent the will of the people, specifically the citizens of District One. I am expecting a lot of phone calls, meetings, interviews, and dialoging...and still being Paul.
What in dentistry could you compare to running a campaign?
With much of it, actually, like dentistry, you’re putting yourself out there. Under the standpoint of running a successful business, you have to be cognizant of budgets and able to dialog and effectively work with people with diverse backgrounds and sets of circumstances. This is an area that I feel being a practitioner has really helped me in my transition into politics: dentists work with and help such a wide range of different people. You see the same diverse personalities in the political arena as you do seeing patients: people that are excited, people that are scared, people that are easy to work with and people that are not. Like running a practice, there will be employees that need to be managed, and I’ll look to empower those employees. Lastly, dentistry, like politics, is a high-stress position, and that’s a facet of my professional background that I believe will help in this transition.
Is there anyone that you met along the campaign trail (famous or not) that sticks out in your mind?
No, no one famous per se, but what sticks out to me are exceptional people that are considered just “everyday citizens” that have made such an impact on my life or the campaign during the last couple of years. It’s easy to overlook how important they really were. People in Congress have to put their pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else, and while I have met some of them and I look forward to meeting many of them, the everyday worker/citizens are the ones that have been the most memorable to me during this campaign.
What have you learned on the campaign trail that will help you to be the best Congressional Representative you can be?
To listen, to dream, to believe...and to work hard. I’ve learned that people can still make a difference and make things happen in a positive way.