The “Governator” came out and spoke about the deep rifts in the political spectrum today.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger accused Washington leaders Monday of divisiveness and partisanship, chiding them to learn the lessons of his state and start to cooperate.
“Politics is about compromise. It is about give-and-take. Doesn’t anyone here in Washington remember that chapter from their civics book?” the Republican governor said in a speech to the National Press Club.
“How come Republicans and Democrats out here don’t schmooze with each other?” he asked in prepared remarks.
“You can’t catch a socially transmitted disease by sitting down with people who hold ideas different from yours,” said Schwarzenegger, a moderate who has frequently split from his party.
This is the other reason that the Governor, other than his citizenship, would never be elected to any national office in the Republican Party. The GOP base has a hard right stance, which makes it difficult for any person with moderate or progressive views to be taken seriously as a leader. Yet, Schwarzenegger has managed to do reasonably well in California. However, California, like New York, is an area where most hard right Conservatives do not fare as well. Politics have come a long way since the day of Reagan, and Reagan was as much of a pragmatist as he was a Conservative. Reagan knew the importance of cobbling deals in the back room after a day of debate. It is said that one of “The Gippers” best buddies was Tip O’Neill, who was about as establishment New Deal Democrat as they came. Both of these leaders were able to come to synthesis on many issues. This is typically a good thing in governance, and reflects the pragmatism of Americans at large. As a culture we have a healthy amount of skepticism towards ideologues.
Schwarzenegger, in town for a National Governors Association meeting, has urged setting timelines for bringing troops home from Iraq, an approach favored by many congressional Democrats. Without mentioning either party by name, he implicitly criticized the approach of both parties during Congress’ recent debates on the Iraq war.
“What is the point of stirring up bitterness over nonbinding resolutions? What is the point of each side preventing the other side from conducting a vote?” he asked. “The point, of course, is political advantage. It’s certainly not to the people’s advantage.”
Majority Democrats in the House and Senate have advanced nonbinding resolutions to oppose President Bush’s troop increase plan for Iraq. The resolution passed the House this month, but failed to reach a vote in the Senate when Republicans blocked an end to debate.
The people do benefit when positive legislation is promoted by Congress. Consider NCLB, which has problems, but also has changed the landscape of public education. Many of the results of NCLB after its first five years are positive, with indications of increased student achievement already being shown. What is most encouraging about the gains are that the greatest rate of positive change has been among minorities and low income, urban students. This was the area which had the greatest need.
The problem with the hard Conservatives, is that many people who are everyday Americans are very comfortable, and have no desire to turn the clock back on programs from The New Deal and The Great Society. I am amazed when some ultra Conservatives talk about being desirous of social balancing as if that is a negative quality. The concept of justice and egalitarianism are hallmarks of the founding documents of this country.
One of the problems that many centrists face is the balkanization from the left, which is probably more extreme within ranks of the Democratic Party than the Republican Party. Within the Democratic Party there is no room for social conservatives but fiscal progressives. There is certainly no room for social progressives with Hawkish foreign policy views. The real possibility of Senator Lieberman switching over to the Republican Party is a warning bell to moderate Democrats who, according to Mort Kondrache, “May have won the election over Iraq, only to lose it back if Lieberman switches.” There is no more any room for statesman such as Scoop Jackson, Daniel Partrick Monyhan, Sam Nunn, and even the greatest three Democratic Presidents, Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Truman would be pushed out by the far left position of the base.
What has happened to a society where landmark legislation such as The Great Society with its emphasis on attempting to redress the inequalities which are inherently joined with poverty. Being poor is not usually a choice, it is at the source a case of being born in within the circumstances, and while education and hard work are the best ways out of poverty, the deck was stacked, and still is in many of these circumstances.
Kudos to the Governator. Although he is a bit more liberal even than myself, and I have been labeled more than once as a RINO, his speaking on the need for a social and civil discourse are a positive addition to the political forum.