by Daniel Clark
At the 2004 Republican National Convention, Arnold Schwarzenegger told how he first became involved in American politics when he came to this country in 1968. It started when he was watching coverage of the presidential race between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey.
"I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which is what I had just left," he said. "But then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting government off your back, lowering taxes and strengthening the military. Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air. I said to my friend, "What party is he?" My friend said, "He's a Republican." I said, "Then I am a Republican."
… But a funny thing happened on the way to Sacramento. It seems that Schwarzenegger, like Nixon, has "grown" — which is how the media condescendingly describe it when a politician becomes more liberal over the years. By this measure, he has become more massive than ever, since announcing his latest proposals on health care and global warming.
The governor has decided that every single person in California must have health insurance, including illegal aliens. "If you can't afford it, the state will help you buy it," he promised. Under his plan, the government would force businesses with as few as ten employees to provide their health insurance. It would also micromanage how insurance providers may spend their revenue, and levy new taxes on doctors and hospitals.
In other words, this policy would deter small businesses from hiring, make the state less attractive to doctors and insurers, and encourage even more illegal immigration. Moreover, it would provide incentives to increase health care costs and insurance premiums, to which the state would likely respond with price controls. So much for free enterprise.
Last September, Schwarzenegger signed a bill that essentially commits his state to abide by the Kyoto Protocol, by reducing carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. When Bill Clinton signed onto Kyoto in 1997, the Senate voted against its ratification by a count of 95-0. Many of the senators had surely planned to stay in office beyond the compliance date of 2010, at which point they would have been held accountable. Schwarzenegger, however, will be long gone from the governor's mansion when the bill for his binge of feelgoodism comes due.
The same Arnold who detested big government just over two years ago has now integrated it into his philosophy. The Arnold who once bragged about how he became a Republican now speaks of a "post-partisan" era in which the political left and right are melded into a "new creative center." He left Austria because it had become too socialistic, but now hails the "public policy innovations" of the New Deal. In hindsight, Social Security looks about as innovative as asbestos insulation; but then, caring about results has been known to stunt a politician's "growth."
Ironically, it is through Schwarzenegger's movement away from conservatism that he has remained faithful to the example of Richard Nixon. As president, Nixon wielded the power of big government by imposing wage and price controls. This included the controls on oil prices that suppressed gasoline production, resulting in intermittent shortages throughout the Seventies.
It was also Nixon who implemented the first affirmative action program, the "Philadelphia Plan," which set requirements for minority hiring by government contractors in that city. Criticized for instituting quotas, he instead characterized them as "goals and timetables" — an evasion commonly used by quota advocates to this day.
By the time Nixon stepped down from office, that "breath of fresh air" had turned to halitosis. Yet the same Arnold who had identified with Nixon's campaign rhetoric has shown no disillusionment with the policies that followed.
Tricky Dick often advised other Republicans to run to the right in the primaries, and run to the center in the general election campaign. While he's often credited with devising this tactic, he was really just following the ancient political tradition of telling different audiences whatever they want to hear.
Arnold has learned this lesson well. When you're an action movie hero competing for the entertainment dollars of mainstream America, socialism is evil. When you're governor of the bluest of blue states, it's "creative" and "innovative." One can only imagine the Marxist drivel that must spill from his lips whenever he attends a Kennedy family function. He and Sen. Ted Kennedy probably don't sound much different, except for the funny accent. Teddy's, that is.
Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.