Besides career politicians, famous sportspersons and celebrities also often get into politics. However, Arnold Schwarzenegger is unique because he is one of those people who got into politics while being both a sportsperson and a celebrity. The icon helped put bodybuilding on the mainstream map in the 70s after winning a record-setting seven Mr. Olympia titles. After conquering bodybuilding, Schwarzenegger went into acting. In Hollywood, the Austrian found similar success as he ruled the box office and helped shape 80s action cinema. He was also a Republican who married Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy family. All these factors came into play when Schwarzenegger stepped into politics.
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The multi-millionaire bodybuilding and Hollywood legend challenged Gary Davis and ran against him in the 2003 recall elections. After announcing he would be running for governor, Schwarzenegger fans and the people of California became ecstatic. The icon’s storied career granted him an aura even veteran politicians found hard to ignore. “I was really stunned by the way people reacted to him and the enormity of his popularity,” former Senate leader Don Perata once said about Arnie. Arnie took office in November 2003 and served for two terms. While the constitution didn’t let him run for president, he had the desire to do so. To this day, many people on the internet talk about Arnie running for president. Even today, the Austrian Oak is confident he would’ve made a great president. Let’s take a deeper dive to find out why that is the case.
The good work that Arnie did as governor
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Seven-time Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger took office as the Governor of California in November 2003. The Austrian faced many challenges when starting his first term as the state’s governor. However, the principal challenge that would haunt him for the entirety of his two terms was California’s financial problem. Schwarzenegger leveraged this financial crisis during his campaign. “I will not rest until our fiscal house is in order. I will not rest until California is a competitive job-creating machine…” the Predator actor said in his inaugural speech. Like the Terminator he portrayed in James Cameron’s films, people felt the action star would terminate the state’s financial deficits. So he earned the name the Governator.
Arnie immediately got busy after taking office. The former Mr. Universe actor surprised his peers as he kept his Conan the Barbarian long sword in his office. It was a symbol of how he would slash the state’s problems. In 2006, the governor signed the historic Global Warming Solutions Act and worked on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sources. The historic act was the first of its kind in America. He signed market-based emission trading with then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Schwarzenegger also had the foresight to propose universal health insurance. He even rejected his governor’s salary.
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Arnie earned $187,000 as governor. However, the man with a net worth of $450 million rejected his salary and thought the money would be better spent helping the public. However, not everything the governor did turned out to be beneficial for the state of California.
There were some shortcomings during Arnie’s tenure
Promising to solve the financial issues of the state, Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed budget cuts multiple times during his tenure as governor. However, these didn’t win any popularity votes. Many of his critics latched onto the fact that the deficit didn’t improve despite these massive budget cuts. While he proposed a balanced budget amendment in 2008, Arnie passed significant cuts the following year. Yet, Schwarzenegger was unable to overcome the deficits. According to a 2010 report by Mercury News, Gov. Schwarzenegger left office with a $25.4 billion deficit. The large deficit marred Arnie’s legacy. However, the 76-year-old made many correct decisions that helped California in the long run.
Schwarzenegger revolutionized the state’s environmental policies. Arnie’s nearly $40 billion program to fix aging roads, highways, bridges, and so on in California also benefited the residents in the long term. Not everything worked out for Schwarzenegger, but the good he did made a strong case for him to run for president. Only the constitution of America acted as an insurmountable obstacle, as it didn’t allow immigrants to run for president. Yet, the bodybuilding icon never stopped thinking of solving the problems on a national scale. Hence, today Schwarzenegger’s take on the current political situation aims to unite instead of creating further divide.
Schwarzenegger talks of unity
The bodybuilding icon recently appeared on the Howard Stern show. “I think that I would have made a great president,” the 76-year-old confidently announced. Besides being emboldened by what he did for California, the pothole terminating former governor gave a unique take on the current political landscape. Today, the rift between Democrats and Republicans seems to have grown exponentially. The Democratic and Republican parties promise drastically different futures as the 2024 presidential election campaign shifts gears.
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However, even during such a time, the 76-year-old actor spoke about teamwork. Arnold Schwarzenegger believes that both Republicans and Democrats need to put their ideological differences aside and meet in the middle. Arnie branded himself as a “traditional Republican,” inspired by leaders like Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Regan, on a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live. While Kimmel countered by saying the traditional republican party “doesn’t exist anymore,” Schwarzenegger argued that leaders still need to inspire others with those ideals. Arnie is confident he has what it takes to bridge the gap and be a catalyst for change.
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Hence it’s no surprise why Schwarzenegger believes he will do good as the POTUS. While it’s easy for critics to point out Arnie’s failure to curb the financial crisis of the state he governed, no one has succeeded in his stead. In May 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsome announced that the state’s budget deficit had grown to nearly $32 billion. The Governator’s confidence is certainly not unfounded.