For people who do not live in California, it must have come as a surprise that Arnold Schwarzenegger bombed at the polls on November 8, only two years after he swept to victory in a special election for governor. Here is a brief explanation of what happened and what he can do to revive his popularity among California voters. In 2003, a majority of voters did not vote for Schwarzenegger, but he won anyway because the rules of the election did not allow a runoff. Many voters chose Arnold in that election not because he stood for anything, but because they thought it would be funny to have The Terminator as governor. Even I, who did not vote for him, purchased a Govenator coffee mug. Schwarzenegger sold himself as a Republican who was friendly to Democrats and independents. However, once in power, he ruled as a strict Republican Party partisan. He is not a conservative. Like George Bush, he is more of a "corporative," someone who puts the needs of corporations and the rich above all else.
Bypassing the Democratic-controlled legislature, he put forth four propositions to be voted on by the citizens of California, the details of which are no longer relevant. Knowing that they were unlikely to pass in a general election, he called a special election -- at a cost to California taxpayers of about $55 million. He also hoped that by winning this election he would be well-positioned to gain reelection next year. But, again like George Bush, he completely misread the extent of his "mandate." According to Survey USA, Schwarzenegger's net job approval rating, minus 32%, is worse than 48 of the other 49 governors. (Only Ohio's Bob Taft is more unpopular.)
Besides Schwarzenegger's four propositions, there were four other proposals on the ballot. None of them passed. In other words, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a failed attempt to boost his political career, wasted $55 million of taxpayer money that could have been used to help the state. When he campaigned for governor two years ago, Schwarzenegger boasted that he was too rich to be bought by special interests. That being the case, I propose that he make it up to the citizens of California by using his own fortune to reimburse the state for the millions that he caused us to lose.
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