Surprisingly, Hollywood tough guy and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appears to believe he still holds a place within the Republican Party, despite having previously uttered “screw your freedom” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schwarzenegger, known for his iconic role as “The Terminator,” notably ran as a Republican and won the gubernatorial office in 2003 following the recall of Democrat Gray Davis. However, his governance did not strictly align with traditional Republican principles, and his post-2011 statements have deviated from center-right ideals.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Schwarzenegger expressed his belief that the GOP would still embrace him warmly. During the interview, he criticized both the left and the right for engaging in mutual criticism and maintained, “To me, it’s funny, because I’m somewhere in the middle.”
Curiously, every stance he took during the interview positioned him firmly within the realm of left-leaning viewpoints, despite his assertion of occupying a centrist position.
He embraces progressive views on climate change, advocates for abortion rights, aligns with the left on gender and racial issues, and has been a vocal supporter of vaccines and mask-wearing. In a 2021 report by People, he even drew comparisons between the Trump administration and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party.
Despite these positions, he believes he has a rightful place and feels “comfortable” within the GOP, asserting, “Yes, there is a home for me in the Republican Party.”
Furthermore, he proceeded to offer a different perspective on our representative republic and proposed a system resembling direct democracy, where leaders continuously seek the majority opinion to shape policies. Schwarzenegger admonished state representatives in the legislature, stating,”You’re not supposed to represent only your district; you’re also supposed to represent the state and move the state forward and work with everyone in order to make life better.”
He added, “So when they know that a majority of Californians want to have a cleaner environment, want to have renewable energy — for them to go the other way, it’s not serving the people.”
Continuning his thoughts, Schwarzenegger stated, “Do a poll, and you will find out that a majority of people in California want to have a clean environment. They want to get rid of fossil fuels. Then that’s what you do.”
However, this approach doesn’t align with the original intent of our system. Representatives are elected to state legislatures to advocate for the interests of their specific district, not to represent the entire state as a whole.
They are also expected to operate within the boundaries of the law and adhere to the state and federal constitutions. However, they should not be driven solely by continuous polling of the electorate.
Representatives are elected based on their ideological alignment with their respective districts, providing them with a sort of mandate to proceed accordingly. While compromise may be necessary at times to achieve progress, our system functions as a representative democracy, not a direct democracy where every policy is subject to constant popular votes.
When the constituents feel that their representative has deviated from their chosen path, they have the opportunity to vote for a new representative in pursuit of a better fit.
Even the Times reporter, who leans left, expressed reservations about the polling-centric approach, albeit in a characteristically impassioned left-leaning manner, said, “But making decisions just based on polls is what makes politicians say that Jan. 6 was overblown or that Trump won the 2020 election.”
Schwarzenegger, on his part, maintained that “If you put them on the lie detector,” no elected official would genuinely believe that the election was stolen; many merely make such claims to secure re-election. Interestingly, Schwarzenegger’s proposal of relying on polls and fostering equal cooperation appears less well-thought-out when he cited abortion as an example.
Arnold eventually issued a tardy apology for his “screw your freedom” remark. However, many observers pointed out that this apology coincided with his promotion of several upcoming events. Moreover, even within this “apology,” he did not renounce the underlying sentiment tied to his strong advocacy for vaccines and masks, which some have characterized as overzealous. He merely acknowledged that he should have “communicated better,” as reported by Fitness Volt.