Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.
When Arnold Schwarzenegger finishes his term as Governor of California next year, it will possibly be the end of what has been an eventful six year political career. While the 62 year old has openly expressed his desire to run for the top job, a little something called the United States Constitution stands in his way – Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 reads “No person, except a natural born citizen… shall be eligible to the office of the president.” End of story. At one point he had such an approval rating that there was talk of contesting this law, but as he approaches the end of his governorship with an approval rating in the thirties, that seems like a long time ago.
But if nothing else, Schwarzenegger has shown determination to overcome any hurdle, and has faced challenges in the past. A hard childhood and upbringing. Predators. Terminators sent from the future to kill John Connor. A classroom full of whiny kindergarteners. Danny DeVito. Political opposition. All of these have been overcome with determination, and dare it be said, a certain ease.
So much ease, in fact, that when Arnold Schwarzenegger can look down the barrel of the camera say with some confidence that he’s going to become the President of the United States some day, it’s strange that people don’t take him seriously.
Take, for example, his appearance in a 1978 interview 90 Minutes Live, a Canadian program. The young muscle-bound Austrian proudly tells the audience that he’s conquered the physical world, he has a book out, and they should all watch his movie Pumping Iron. At this time he casually states that he’s going to become one of the world’s greatest actors, a comment that receives much laughter and applause. No matter how he walked away from that interview, it doesn’t need to be pointed out that he’s definitely made a name for himself in the movie industry.
When Schwarzenegger made the move from film into politics, it was a long time coming – he stated in interviews as far back as 1999 when asked if he would run for office “I think about it many times. The possibility is there, because I feel it inside.” Many denounced his candidacy to become Governor when it was first announced in 2003, and while he gained the most publicity, the man who would be Governator had ambiguous policies and wouldn’t appear in debates. Despite this he had major Republican backing, and won with a convincing 48.6% of the vote. None of this can be hurt by the fact that in 1986 he married Maria Shriver – a niece of John F Kennedy, and the closest thing that America has to a royal family.
He’s come a long way from that small village outside Austria. He’s been an athlete, a writer, a movie star, and a businessman along the way. He’s excelled and succeeded at everything he’s put his mind to. Since he gained United States citizenship in 1983, he’s always identified himself as foremost an American, to the extent where in 2005, a member of the Austrian Green Party demanded that parliament revoke his citizenship of Austria.
So while Arnie mightn’t have been born on American soil, he’s living proof of the opportunities the United States can provide, embodies the success of ‘the American dream’. He might speak with an amusing accent that everyone can impersonate, but it’s been decided that he’s good enough to lead California for the past six years, and while it hasn’t faired the global financial crisis well, he’ll definitely leave his mark. And yes, while there might be crimes against humanity in his past (I’m looking directly at his effort as the Iceman in Batman and Robin, and the male pregnancy debacle of Junior) he seems to be genuinely remorseful for the mistakes he has made.
It can’t be said for a moment that running for the Presidency of the United States would be easy for him – he’d have the hurdle of the Constitution against him, a two hundred year old set of rules that have stood the test of time. But it’s been amended before, for good reason too – slavery has been abolished, women have been given the right to vote, and income tax has been established. The idea that it could be further amended so that a citizen who was born in another country can be president isn’t such a crazy idea – it’s already been proposed in congress two dozen times since the 1970s, and similar systems are in place in other countries where it’s functioned with great success.
So while the Governator hasn’t made the next act in his life all that clear, he’s made it known that as far as he’s concerned, politics is in his blood. The Presidency (or even a further political career) may be a long shot. But his track record has shown that if he wants it, and he puts his mind to it, ‘he’ll be back.’