If you’ve ever seen the movie The Running Man, you may remember the line of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character, Ben Richards. “I’m not into politics, I’m into survival.” Strangely enough, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, former professional wrestler and Minnesota Governor, played a character in the same movie called Captain Freedom. I don’t know what the connection is between tough guys, The Running Man, and running for governor, but there is no denying the coincidence.
The people of California now must hope that Schwarzenegger is into both politics and survival, as they turn to him for leadership over the next few years as governor.
Inaugurated last Monday, he is now officially running the show. With no prior experience in politics, only time will tell if Californians made the right choice. Many may now be hoping that leadership has somehow rubbed off on him through marrying a Kennedy relative.
Ever since he announced his intention to run and the California recall election spun out of control, he has been shown no mercy by comedians looking for an easy laugh. I’ve heard so many Arnold impressions in the past couple of months I’m not sure what his real voice sounds like.
I want to give the big man a little credit. First of all, he is taking a substantial pay cut. Governors make considerably less than the millions per year that Arnold is accustomed to. The President only makes a couple hundred thousand.
Also, pending multiple re-elections, he could be away from the big screen for more than 10 years, making less than 10 percent of what he might normally make.
I believe that Schwarzenegger is really just a man who loves his state. He’s taking on a difficult public position, risking doing a bad job and potentially ending his movie career and setting himself up for national criticism because he wants to try and give something back to a state that was so good to him.
Unfortunately for Schwarzenegger, he has been elected at a time when he does not have a lot of moves to make. California’s budget deficit, for example, is going to be solved by either raising taxes or cutting expenditures. Neither will make your average voter happy.
Schwarzenegger wants to cut the unpopular car tax, but the programs that rely on that money will suffer because of it.
He is going to be subjected to merciless criticism over his next few years in office simply because he’s an actor. I hope that this opens up political races to actors, athletes, musicians and anyone else who wants to try their hand at government. Politicians make a career out of running for office and lose touch with what it is like to be on the outside of government. The beauty of this country is that if someone does a bad job in political office, when their term is up, out they go.
So why not change it up a little and give Schwarzenegger the benefit of the doubt? I just hope that Californians, and the country, have sympathy.
Even if he were a trained politician, his job would still not be easy.
Torin Sweeney can be reached at email@example.com.