The quote of the week goes to Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, which is just out with a poll that shows Arnold Schwarzenegger with a 75% disapproval rating among voters and with 90% of Los Angeles residents rejecting him.
DiCamillo told the San Francisco Chronicle: “He was going to be a … politician who really appealed to independent voters and who would reach across party lines,” DiCamillo said. The new poll shows that Schwarzenegger has “achieved the ‘post-partisan’ status.”
Republicans, Democrats, independents, Californians of all walks of life curse their former Governor. What’s made Arnold’s reign so disappointing is not that he betrayed his wife, but that he betrayed voters and their hopes.
Consumer Watchdog launched ArnoldWatch.org on Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial inauguration day because we knew his talk about cleaning up Sacramento was phony. At the time Schwarzenegger had a 65% plus approval rating. We launched the blog ArnoldWatch.org to hold California’s new governor accountable to his pledge to clean up special-interest control in Sacramento and to chart the influence of big business over his administration. By 2005 Californians came to learn the Gov did not live up to his word when they rejected a slate of reactionary ballot measures he proposed. When Schwarzenegger left office in 2010, before the news of love child scandal, his approval rating was only 27%, tied with Governor Gray Davis at the moment of his recall.
What ruined Arnold wasn’t his infidelity to his family, but to his state. The blogs at Arnold Watch stand as a reminder of the need to be ever vigilant in holding our politicians accountable. The special interests he bedded while in the governor’s suite spawned some of the uglier moments of California governance. Sometimes we stopped him, sometimes we shamed him, other times Schwarzenegger’s donors won more than they should have. When Arnold was hurting, he was forced to take huge steps forward to rehabilitate his image — an increase in the minimum wage, a greenhouse gas emissions cap, support for gay marriage.
What matters to voters in the end, though, isn’t these strides forward for progress or the master marketer’s cosmetic remakes of himself. The voter’s final verdict was cast about his character.
Other politicians across America would do well to learn the lesson that, in the end, reputation and trust are all that truly matter. Every vote, every decision should be based not on the power of the interest group of the moment, or the political winds of an insular world, but on what’s right and wrong for history and a public official’s place in it. Until politicians are ready for that truth, Consumer Watchdog will be here to remind them of it.
Posted by Jamie Court, author of The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell and President of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.