[Homestead] Schwartzenegger political revolution

tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Thu Feb 10 07:28:08 EST 2005

tvoivozhd---While all wisdom certainly is not possessed by sheep voters 
easily induced to vote against their own and national well-being, The 
Schwartzenegger approach is to make legislators insecure---I am all for 


*washingtonpost.com* <http://www.washingtonpost.com/>
*California Revolution*

By George F. Will

Thursday, February 10, 2005; Page A23

SAN FRANCISCO -- The governor's office here is in the Hiram W. Johnson 
State Office Building, named for the early-20th-century Republican 
populist, arguably California's most consequential chief executive. So far.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican populist, practices what Leon 
Trotsky preached -- permanent revolution. He is in perpetual campaign 
mode, wielding his celebrity and theatricality to keep the legislature 
nervous about being bypassed by lawmaking-by-referendum, a 
constitutional weapon that is a Hiram Johnson legacy.

If Schwarzenegger successfully employs the plebiscitary mechanism this 
year, he will approach reelection next year ranked among the state's 
most transformative governors. And ripples raised by the boulders he is 
throwing into this nation-state's political pool will roll eastward 
across the country.

Placed in office by plebiscite -- the recall of Gov. Gray Davis -- just 
16 months ago, Schwarzenegger has started the clock on a countdown to 
what could be a November to remember. He has submitted to the 
Democratic-controlled legislature four proposals aimed at unlocking some 
interlocking political and economic irrationalities produced by a 
political class that has treated public office as private property. 
Because the legislature probably will not act soon and affirmatively, 
ballot language has been drafted and fundraising for four ratification 
campaigns has begun.

One initiative would empower school districts to award teachers merit 
pay based on performance as the districts decide to measure that. Merit 
pay pits Schwarzenegger against the 335,000-member California Teachers 
Association and other teachers unions.

A second initiative would change the retirement system for state and 
local employees, now 2 million strong. The state, facing a deficit of at 
least $8 billion, will pay a $2.6 billion share of those employees' 
retirement this year, up from only $160 million just four years ago. 
Under Schwarzenegger's proposal, government workers hired after June 
2007 would be enrolled in privately managed accounts akin to 401(k)s, 
with the state matching up to 6 percent of their salaries, 9 percent for 
public safety officers. Sixteen states have adopted or are considering 
private accounts as voluntary options. Opposition by government 
employees unions, which nationwide wield the investment power of many 
hundreds of billions of dollars in retirement funds, killed a similar 
proposal in California seven years ago.

In most Schwarzenegger movies, things blow up, and a third initiative is 
part of his promise to "blow up the boxes" of government. It would 
impose across-the-board spending cuts when the legislature cannot 
achieve a balanced budget. This would counter the effect of many 
previous referendums that mandate spending, such as the one that 
guarantees 40 percent of general revenue for elementary and secondary 
education. They have placed roughly 70 percent of the general fund 
budget beyond the legislature's control.

Regarding spending-by-referendum, Schwarzenegger, too, is a sinner. His 
worst decision as governor was supporting a referendum committing $6 
billion in state funds (counting interest on the bonds) for stem cell 
research to stimulate biotech industries. That is "industrial policy," 
aka socialism.

Schwarzenegger's fourth and most important initiative would end the 
racket of redistricting devoted to incumbent-protection. In November, 
not one of 153 state legislative or congressional districts changed 
party control. Schwarzenegger proposes taking redistricting away from 
the political class's computers and empowering a panel of retired judges 
to draw district lines. Schwarzenegger delightedly recalls that when he 
was in Washington for the inauguration, some members of Congress, not 
just Californians or Democrats, begged him to abandon his -- to them -- 
appalling assault on the right of legislators to pick their voters.

Democrats now hold 33 of California's 53 congressional seats. In 
November, just three of the 53 races were won with less than 60 percent. 
Increasing competitiveness statewide probably would disproportionately 
increase Republican turnout in a state Bush lost by 10 percent in 2004 
without seriously campaigning in it. If California again becomes 
competitive in presidential elections, Democratic candidates, deprived 
of 55 sure electoral votes, will be disadvantaged.

If all four measures go to the ballot -- "the train," Schwarzenegger 
says, "has already left the station"; the process "is on automatic 
pilot" -- he expects opponents to spend a combined $200 million. He 
plans to raise $50 million and believes that if he is outspent by only 
four to one, he will win. His confidence approaches mysticism. Extending 
an arm, his palm toward his face and his fingers curved as though 
holding an invisible orb, he says ingenuously, "If I can see it" -- any 
goal -- "I can achieve it. And I have the ability to see it."

He sees California's political system reopened, like concrete cracked by 
a jackhammer, and sees the state's social system reinvigorated by an 
economy liberated. "The world," says this man who is used to being 
looked at, "is looking at us." Come November, the nation certainly will be.

/georgewill at washpost.com/ <mailto:georgewill at washpost.com>

© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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