November 09, 2005

Arnie Loses Big Time

Not so long ago, Arnold Schwarzenegger was cruising the state claiming that he would use the initiative process to let the people have a voice in making policy. Arnie won the governorship by being the "not-politician." He thought he had found the perfect way to seize control from those pesky "special interests" that had made governing California such a challenge for so many experienced politicians. Since he was elected he has used the initiative process as a big club to impose his way on others, although at one time the pundits saw his bluff as a great bargaining tool:

When he first took office, it looked as if Schwarzenegger might be content simply to remain a creature of the media, an outsider governor who appeared on TV to bash legislators. He often talked about taking his agenda directly to voters through the initiative process if the legislature wouldn’t play ball, and kept political consultants on staff as if he were going to operate in permanent campaign mode.

It’s now clear that Schwarzenegger had a more subtle strategy in mind, one that envisioned the initiative process less as a blunt instrument to get his way and more as a negotiating tool. “I like the idea of using deadlines,” Schwarzenegger said at a news conference celebrating the workers’ comp package. “Because why would we hang here for the next two years and negotiate and debate over this issue?”

But that was before he decided that demagoguery was the way to win the game. Pressuring the legislature on one side, he decided to take his case to the people. Yet, what did he do as he was taking the case to the people? Why he picked on those "special interests" who were selfishly standing in his way.

You know who those people are: those teachers who are holding the state at gun point because they care about having sufficient funding for the schools and thought Arnold should have kept his promise to the students of California.

Or those nurses who scheme on how to make the governor uphold the policy of having enough nurses available so that people might be able to get decent care in the hospitals.

And let's not forget those greedy police and firemen who tried to strongarm the state into making sure they could protect their communities.

Yup, Arnold decided the state worker unions were the enemy and he was going to rescue the state from their clutches by taking the case directly to the voters. Arnold just hates special interests. But like Bush's definition of torture, Arnie's definition of special interests included ordinary workers, not the corporate fatcats who might have just a little bit invested in Arnie's power grab.

This time Californians told Arnie "No". And now that Arnie can't use the threat of taking his "reforms" directly to the people, he'll need to figure out how to actually work with those he scorned before.

Congratulations, Californians.

Posted by Mary at November 9, 2005 07:36 AM | CA State Politics | Technorati links |

I am glad that all of Schwarzeneggar's propositions went to defeat, and I am also very glad that prop 73 went to defeat, but I am sorry to say that prop 79 went down also. Prop 79 was the only good prop on the ballot.

Posted by: Haikuist at November 9, 2005 08:25 AM

California didn't just say no.


Even the redistricting measure I would normally support had provisions to ensure more GOP seats.

I don't live in California but was surprised at the parental notification of abortion defeat, normally a proven GOP tactic to drive up the vote.

Posted by: Gary Denton at November 9, 2005 12:42 PM

we really liked the headline that AFP put on one of its stories about the defeat of the four intiatives:

Voters terminate Schwarzenegger in key referendum

Posted by: magpie at November 9, 2005 02:07 PM

Yeah, I liked that headline.

And I was repeating the LA Times headline above with the eight NO's. Only four were strongly supported by the soon-to-be-terminated.

Posted by: Gary Denton at November 10, 2005 12:37 AM