Having just read Arnold Schwarzenegger’s new autobiography, Total Recall, I have to admit to being disappointed. It turns out that in the field of politics the Governator was more of a “girlie man” than a Terminator. He became governor of California by promising to “terminate” big government policies and anti-business regulations. After serving two terms, he left the governor’s office as just another tax-and-spend liberal. In the final analysis, Governor Schwarzenegger was just as wedded to burdensome regulations and big government as the most radical liberal. As a politician he talked conservative but governed liberal. Because of this, California in the post-Arnold era is bleeding like a severed artery when it comes to jobs and business retention.
I knew before reading his book that Arnold considered himself a moderate, a politician who could reach across the aisle and deal with Democrats as well as Republicans. In total Recall this is how he proudly portrays himself. As it turns out, the reason Arnold was so good at working with Democrats in the California Legislature is that he was carrying their water for them. Why would the liberals fight him when he was willing to raise taxes and enact their favorite regulations? What does it tell you when he got along with Barack Obama better than George W. Bush? Arnold may be considered conservative when compared to the socialists who control his home country of Austria, but in America, in any state other than California, he would be considered a liberal.
Before going further into the Governator’s politics, let me give him credit where it is due. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an outstanding example of an immigrant who came to this country to cast off the shackles of socialism and build a better life for himself. Not even speaking English, Arnold came to America in pursuit of the opportunities a free market offers anyone who is willing to work hard, smart, and long. To his credit, Arnold not only pursued the American dream, he realized it many times over. Many still think of Arnold as the greatest body builder in the history of the sport—and he was. But in addition to his bodybuilding fame, he is a hugely successful business man, a multi-millionaire, one of the highest grossing movie stars in the history of motion pictures, and the former governor California. All things considered, not a bad record for a penniless farmhand from Austria.
Prior to getting into politics, Arnold was attracted to conservative politicians. With socialist Austria as his reference point he often clashed with west-coast elites in his adopted home of California who did not understand the drawbacks to socialism he had witnessed in person on a daily basis before coming to America. In his autobiography, Arnold tells how he was flabbergasted to learn that in America you could buy a business license in the morning and be in business that afternoon. In Socialist Austria the same transaction would have taken six months to a year, unless you knew someone or were willing to pay a bribe.
Arnold’s observations of life in a socialist country transformed him into what is often called an economic conservative. At least in the beginning, he was anti-taxation and pro-business. However, on social issues he retained his European worldview (pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, pro-cohabitation, and religiously agnostic). In other words, Arnold was one of those politicians who claimed to be an economic conservative and a social liberal. True conservatives refer to people who adopt this confused worldview as what they really are: liberals. For sure they are liberals who like to hold onto their own money, but they are liberals nonetheless.
I commend Arnold Schwarzenegger for writing an autobiography that is frank, candid, and forthcoming. In it he freely admits to being pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, pro-cohabitation, and religiously agnostic. He also candidly admits to cheating on his wife and fathering a child with his maid (although his treatment of this topic suggests that if he had not been caught by his wife the affair and the child would still be secrets). Having read his book, my problem with Arnold is his party registration and his claim to be a “moderate.” Perhaps his views would be considered moderate in Austria and maybe they are in California but in middle America Arnold’s views make him just another tax-and-spend liberal.