California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is pointing a damning finger at his fellow Republicans for playing both sides of the political fence when it came to the economic stimulus plan. Mr. Schwarzenegger praised the influx of federal dollars into his financially troubled state, and chastised Republicans who are trying to play both sides of the fence. The Governor said that he found it very interesting that a lot of his fellow Republicans are very publicly refusing to accept any federal stimulus money saying that it doesn’t help to create any meaningful new jobs, but then they turn around to appear front and center at the photo ops posing with the big novelty check from the Publisher’s Clearing House Prize Patrol with all the zeroes and claiming credit for doing a great job of taking care of their constituents.
Mr. Schwarzenegger went on to note that he is so grateful for the stimulus plan and its effect on the state of California, that he is compelled to be the first Republican governor to throw partisan politics aside and actually support the stimulus plan as a good thing. Said the governor, anyone who says that the plan doesn’t create jobs should talk to the hundred fifty thousand people that have gotten jobs in California.
I have to admit I never thought much of Mr. Schwarzenegger as a politician. He was alright as an actor even though his acting was the epitome of stiff and wooden. His best work was by far acting like an automaton in the Terminator series where his lack of anything remotely resembling a graceful human movement made him the perfect pick to play a machine void of humanity and compassion. With his background of bodybuilding, seven times becoming the world champion Mr. Olympia, Mr. Schwarzenegger has learned to be a master at competition and has learned how to outmaneuver anyone who dared to challenge his title, it is really no surprise that his political leanings would be on the conservative side of things. Add the fact that he has a nine figure net worth, it is practically guaranteed that he’d be a member of the party that appears to be more focused on protecting wealthy individuals and corporate America.
Mr. Schwarzenegger has been a registered Republican nearly all his American life. In a speech at the 2004 Republican National Convention, he explained that when he arrived in America in 1968 with empty pockets, there was a presidential campaign between Richard Nixon and Herbert Humphrey. He watched the debate on television while a friend who spoke German and English translated what was being said. His friend explained that Mr. Humphrey was saying things that sounded a lot like socialism, the form of government economics that Mr. Schwarzenegger left behind in Austria.
And then his friend translated Mr. Nixon’s speech. Mr. Nixon talked about free enterprise, and getting the government off people’s backs, lowering taxes and strengthening the military. Mr. Schwarzenegger said that Mr. Nixon sounded like a breath of fresh air. From that day forward the future governor told everyone that he was a Republican. That was more than forty years ago. Today, Mr. Schwarzenegger is singing a slightly different tune.
While Mr. Schwarzenegger may have shied away from anything resembling socialism before, as a governor of a state going through a severe economic crisis, he appears to be embracing a more socially responsible form of economic governance. While many people would like to interpret socialism strictly as the government in total control of production, distribution, and exchange of goods and services, others have a less sinister interpretation where any government control of capital is done within the limits established by a market based economy. The latter concept accepts the fact that a certain degree of social intervention and economic planning may be necessary at times to prevent capitalism from unfairly concentrating fiscal power and wealth among a small segment of society that would lead to unequal opportunities and does not allow for the best interests of the public at large.
It may sound like Mr. Schwarzenegger is a transformed conservative. He is a politician who now finds it expedient to knock the conservative way these days. Back in 2006, when he appeared as a guest speaker to address the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in San Francisco, Mr. Schwarzenegger took a Democratic tone, speaking in favor of public service while extolling equal opportunity in California’s public schools. He admitted he was wrong when he said that everyone had an equal opportunity to make it in America. He went on to admit that the state of California does not provide equal education for all of our children, and especially not the inner city children. It sounded like a breath of fresh air.
But the fact is California’s per pupil spending ranks behind forty five other states and the District of Columbia. The state only spends about three percent of its taxable resources on education, ranking thirty-seventh when compared to other states. California has more students per teacher than most states ranking forty ninth in student to teacher ratios. The state spends more than one hundred thousand dollars per year to keep a single juvenile in custody, but less than eight thousand dollars to keep a juvenile in school. Go figure. Mr. Schwarzenegger appears to be great at making speeches. But his actions don’t always back up what he is saying. It’s nothing more than politics.
Mr. Schwarzenegger’s career as governor will end at the end of 2010. It’s time for him to move on. There’s some talk that he’ll move to the national stage by trying to become a United States Senator for the state sometime in the future. And with that goal in mind he’ll try to reinvent himself as a moderate in the Republican Party. With the Republicans being labeled as the party of obstruction politics and sympathetic to radical organizations like the tea party movement, Mr. Schwarzenegger could be sitting pretty for his future political endeavor by at least appearing as a moderate. Don’t look now, but it appears that the former Mr. Olympia is going for another title.