California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has been very effective recently at making enemies of the exact people whose votes he'll need if he hopes to be re-elected next November.
Last week, 30,000 teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers gathered in Sacramento and Los Angeles to demonstrate their disgust with what they view as Schwarzenegger's ties to special interests and his plans to spend $80 million on a special election.
Clyde Rivers, president of the California School Employees Association, said,
"He has broken his promises to our schools, time and again. And he has broken his promises to the workers, and injured workers of California, time and again. And he broke his word on workers' pensions time and again." [CTA News, May 25, 2005]
Barbara E. Kerr, California Teacher's Association president, echoing Rivers, said "Teachers are fed up with this governor's broken promises to our kids and schools."
Nurses, protesting in Sacramento for the second time in two months, are just as unhappy as teachers.
"Arnold Schwarzenegger has a very clear agenda—to shift the burden of California's financial problems onto the backs of working people rather than having corporations pay for their fair share," said Deborah Burger, president of the California Nurses Association.
Schwarzenegger's addiction to fund raising and his affinity for corporate interests is astonishing even allowing that he is a politician.
When Schwarzenegger announced in 2003 that he would be a gubernatorial candidate, he promised, "I will go to Sacramento and I will clean house. I don't have to take money from anybody. I have plenty of money."
At the time, Schwarzenegger's pledge was persuasive with voters because then Governor Gray Davis was considered a craven cash machine.
But since October 2003, Schwarzenegger has raised $40 million, an average of $80,000 each day. That computes to twice as much cash as Davis ever generated for his coffers.
Schwarzenegger doesn't mind traveling to chase down big bucks. Over a three day period from May 20-23, Schwarzenegger attended fund raisers—via private jet— in Tampa, Miami and Orlando, Florida; Chicago, Illinois and Dallas, Texas.
His hosts in Florida and Chicago were real estate and insurance tycoons; in Texas, oil barons.
San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross in their May 22nd column titled "Governor Proves to be road warrior in his first 18 months," calculated that since his election Schwarzenegger has taken 35 trips (one day in every 5) totaling 113 days out of state.
Davis was also out of state 113 days…but it took his entire five-year tenure to reach that figure.
"I'd like to be rooting for Arnold. But he has to do something…. Arnold has to spend some of that popularity that he is so sure that he has and lead the people he is so sure will follow him by telling them a truth that may not be so pleasant to hear and that the Republican Party he seeks to seduce will not like. That truth is that in order to have the decent society that we sought to construct and maintain and voted for in California… it's going to cost money particularly for rich people like me and Arnold. It's called paying higher taxes, and not waiting around hoping the economy will boom to pay our bills…. The only taxes the Governor has suggested raising are called fees and tuitions that had been provided by the state in programs for people who need help and can least afford to pay. Those programs the Governor wants terminated. At long last Mr. Terminator, do you want to terminate our decency?"
"If you're looking for
something to terminate—terminate your dinners with the
lobbyists of K St. Terminate collecting out of state
right wing money. Terminate the special election you
want to hold to divert the public's attention away from
the budget. Confront the powerful, not the nurses, not
the teachers, or the children, or the students, or the
elderly, or the sick, or the cops, of the firemen, or
the workers, or the disabled, or the blind…. These are
not, as you called them: the 'special interests.'
Beatty's final warning:
"Do the right thing. After dining out at all of those rich and powerful fundraising dinners, who knows? Some 'stooge' or 'girlie man' or 'loser' may just pop out of nowhere and eat you for lunch."
As summer approaches, Schwarzenegger should pause from his mad dash for cash to reflect on how he is perceived by Californians.
Schwarzenegger's popularity, now at 40%, continues to plummet.
As Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic state, Schwarzenegger has incurred the ire of California's strongest unions and their members.
Without Gray Davis to kick around, the sailing in 2006 may not be as smooth for Schwarzenegger as it was during the 2003 recall election.