Why Democrats–and Conservatives–Fear Arnold

by | Oct 24, 2003

A Nazi groper, running the fifth-largest economy on the planet? I mean this time you gotta see why liberals are mad! Nixon was one thing, with the hiring of burglars and all to lift McGovern’s secrets, and the bombing of Cambodia on the sly — and goofy, like when he’d shoot his arms straight up […]

A Nazi groper, running the fifth-largest economy on the planet? I mean this time you gotta see why liberals are mad!

Nixon was one thing, with the hiring of burglars and all to lift McGovern’s secrets, and the bombing of Cambodia on the sly — and goofy, like when he’d shoot his arms straight up in the air like a giant V, I guess for victory (or maybe it was a big human Y, for Yes), but at least Nixon didn’t pronounce it “Collifornia,” and he didn’t grab up a Kennedy woman for his own. No, this time it’s worse. I saw the nude Arnold photos on Drudge. Nixon wouldn’t even walk along the surf without wearing his suit and tie, and dress shoes.

And I can empathize with liberals on why it was bad during Reagan. Sure, they snickered at the beginning. Here’s a guy with no economics courses from Harvard. But then inflation dropped from 13.5 percent to 1.9 percent and it was harder to keep up the laughs. Harder still when unemployment fell from 9.7 percent to 5.3 percent.

And the communist thing wasn’t so easy for liberals under Reagan. No one at Yale in 1982 was saying that the Soviet Union was ready to collapse, or that it was “evil,” or that capitalism was going to toss communism on the ash heap of history. And yet here’s a guy from “Bedtime for Bonzo” who gets it right, on all three counts.

Still, that was all easier for liberals than what’s going on now in California. Reagan’s dad was no storm trooper, on the wrong side, and Reagan never told a story about how he and the boys got bucked up behind the curtain before going out on stage, and no one at the gym came forward to say that Reagan said blacks weren’t sharp enough to run South Africa.

And I can understand why liberals hate George W, straight from those days of the hanging chads right up to when our troops just shot past the Baghdad museum and didn’t even bother to stop and make sure no one was looting any old pots. But still, bad as that all is, Bush has never been caught tossing subordinates up in the air and carrying them above his head into the men’s room, and, far as I know, Bush has never said that you’ve got to give it to Hitler for the way he whipped up those crowds at the Nuremberg stadium.

The lesson in all this? On all those accusations and last minute pop-ups against Schwarzenegger, it wasn’t clear on election day how much of it was true and how much was just trash politics. What is clear is that the mud balls didn’t stick. Voters seemed more interested in cleaning up Sacramento than in electing Mr. Clean. And, hopefully, what that might mean, if the media guys are paying attention, is that we’re going to see a lot less mud in the next election.

Another lesson, and one that’s not such good news for the Democrats, is that Republican can now see what’s in a winning ticket, even in Democrat strongholds, like with Giuliani in New York and now with Schwarzenegger in California. What won in both cases is a policy mix of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism, a position that seeks to put a lid both on how much the government can grab out of our wallets and on the regulations and laws that mandate how we live.

In Schwarzenegger’s case, that comes down to a stance that’s pro-business and anti-tax, a perspective that’s pro-choice on abortion and supportive of gay civil unions. It’s a position, in short, that sees free-spending legislators as the problem, not individual freedom.

Bottom line: It looks like this isn’t, as they say, your father’s Oldsmobile anymore. Under the headline “The new Republican Party?,” here’s how Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub described the scene on the steps of the Capitol the day before the election: “Arnold Schwarzenegger plays guitar while Twisted Sister singer Dee Snider sings the campaign anthem, ‘We’re not gonna take it.’ The rally at the state Capitol drew about 10,000 supporters and was a rainbow of ages, races and social status. No wonder the Democrats fear Schwarzenegger.”

Ralph R. Reiland is the B. Kenneth Simon professor of free enterprise at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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