The Arnold Model
I’ll first throw out some disclaimers here…
1.) I’ve never been on Gov. Arnold’s payroll
2.) I like him a lot
3.) He’s done a lot of favors for organizations I’m affiliated with and I’m VERY grateful.
Since the November 7 “realignment”, political pundits from across the nation have pointed to our very own Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as a model to emulate. This time last year, he had emerged from a brutal special election where he took a very hard turn right, taking on the unions and many special interests in one fell swoop. His approval ratings we down in the 30’s, and many of us were VERY concerned about his ability to get re-elected about a year later.
As we all know, the story ends well. He got re-elected, while the rest of the Party languished in defeat. What changed? Many would like to credit the change in tone of the Governator – his decision to tone down the partisan rancor and reach out and work with the Democrats. The Gov acquiesced to the Demos on bills such as raising the minimum wage, increasing government-funded health plans, a MASSIVE $37 billion public works bond, and lukewarm immigration reform.
So this is being called “The Arnold Model” – instead of running as a conservative, compromising across the board so the Dems don’t have as much to throw at you as before. “Do that, and you’ll win!” is what many consultants and pundits are saying.
I’m absolutely mystified at that assessment.
This is where the problem lies – we Republicans are too strung up on stupid social issues to actually put any kind of real public policy that isn’t loaded down with ideological baggage. Right now the Dems are the ones running the show in Sacramento, and they’re the only ones bringing forth real legislation. So the BEST we’ve been able to hope for is watering down their already crazy legislation.
Why did Gov. Arnold win? It wasn’t because he agreed to the Demos demands. He FINALLY realized that politics is not the entertainment industry.
First, he sidelined his former campaign folks and brought in some real professionals (Steve Schmidt and Matt Dowd from the Bush Team – experienced veterans who know how to do a campaign). The first 2 1/2 years, staff wise, for Arnold had a bunch of Pete Wilson vets and CAGOP sycophants who couldn’t find their head from their ass…nor had any of them won an election since Wilson in ’94.
Secondly, they made Gov. Arnold a real candidate. They cut all the stupid fluff (ie: those ridiculous Hollywood-themed bill signings and media-whore events). They identified who their voters were and made sure their message was delivered to them. Oh yeah, and Arnold also has something like 99% name identification.
The legislative side of the campaign was enough to show that Arnold isn’t as crazy conservative as he was branded in the 2005 special election, but when it came time to court his conservative voters, he acted like he was married to conservative candidates Tom McClintock and Tony Strickland.
The mainstream media needs to get it straight – Arnold won b/c he finally got on message and had competent people running his show. He is a great reflection of California’s voters – socially progressive and economically conservative. That’s who we are. California Republican Party…please take note. RNC…please take note as well. Let’s all say it together… “We are Republicans – we believe in limited government. We believe the the ingenuity of the individual to make the best decisions for themselves, their family, and their community.”