Does this sound like the kind of politician you could live with?
Just 10 months after California voters rejected all four of the ballot initiatives he put before them and sent his personal approval ratings crashing to dangerous depths, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is riding high, poised to win a full term come November.
Instead of the partisan assault on public employee unions and Democratic legislators (a.k.a. “girlie men”) that marked his rhetoric in 2005, Schwarzenegger has negotiated agreements this year on a minimum-wage increase, higher school spending, curbing air pollution and a mega-bond sale designed to meet overdue highway, flood-control and school-construction needs.
Democratic leaders of the legislature, who a year ago were ready to cut Schwarzenegger’s throat politically, now sing his praises and join him on the platform at bill-signing ceremonies, while the unions debate whether it is worthwhile to put money into the rival campaign of the struggling Democratic nominee, state Treasurer Phil Angelides.
And if centrism is about ANYTHING, to me it is this:
He immediately and publicly said that he had misjudged the electorate but had heard the voters’ message: Cut the partisan rhetoric and get back to work on the real problems facing the state.
Amazingly to some, he has learned it, and now works comfortably, convivially, on forging compromises with the very same Democratic legislators and lobbyists he once tried to run out of town. In turn, they have responded by cooperating instead of conniving to defeat or embarrass him.
Schwarzenegger’s abandonment of a partisan posture has not cost him significant support in his own party, for a simple reason. As the only major Republican elected in this Democratic capitol, he stands as the barrier to higher taxes and more stringent regulation of business.
There is a vital middle in this country and there always will be. But politicians first have to get over themselves, put away the blustery, fear-filled rhetoric and get down to the business of making America a better place to live.
Schwarzenegger seems like one such example.
Know of any more?