I knew that Arnold Schwarzenegger was going to be governor of California the minute he announced he was going to run on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” So that was the day that I made my peace with the idea of the actor, who once portrayed a pregnant man, would be a high ranking public official.
Sure, name recognition is a big factor, and we all know that most Californians would be able to recognize not only that they recognized Schwarzenegger’s name, but also the names of three movies he has starred in. I have a positive outlook that voters saw a little more in Schwarzenegger than just a movie star, and judged him beyond his Tinsel Town resume. Or maybe I am being too optimistic.
Maybe the best way to understand how someone like Schwarzenegger can be elected to a position in politics like governor is to understand the changing image of the ideal politician. Voters are becoming more and more sick of the conventional candidate, who is old and white and telling you things you cannot relate to. There has been a serious move to the more unconventional and alternative candidate, one that can relate easier to the common guy and gal. Sonny Bono was elected because of this movement, as was Jesse Ventura. And now Schwarzenegger.
So is it that politicians need to be more like movie stars and pop icons, or that movie stars and pop icons need to start being more interested and involved in politics?
Maybe a little of both. I am sure there are movie stars out there with real political potential, but probably only the bad movie stars. Ronald Reagan might have known how to deal with the Cold War, but his movies sucked. Perhaps Schwarzenegger will turn out to be a good politician since lately his films have been bombing out of the theatres.
Another thing to take in account is the political situation California is in at the moment. The budget over there is in a deeper pile of you-know-what than New Jersey is. Imagine a worse financial situation than what we have here in New Jersey, multiply the dissatisfaction with Gov. McGreevey by five and throw in the ability to actually recall the government leaders. Honestly, if we could recall McGreevey right now and Bruce Springsteen ran for office, he would probably win with about 90 percent of the votes. All he would have to do is promise free concerts and he would rally more support than someone on the sidewalk handing out free beer.
My only real problem with Schwarzenegger is that he is vaguer than some career politicians. He never actually says anything, and even when he lays out plans, they are so open-ended and broad he could change them at any moment anyway. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out for the rest of the country. Will we see more Schwarzenegger-like megastars becoming politicians? Who knows? All I know is I am glad we will never see a President Schwarzenegger.
Thank you, U.S. Constitution.