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The Real Reason Why Social Conservatives Fear Arnold

Before his recent election to Governor of California social conservatives throughout the country blasted Arnold Schwarzenegger. Conservative Christian Reverend Lou Sheldon’s criticized him as a “highly promiscuous hedonist,” playing him up like he was almost Satan incarnate. The American Spectator On-line, (American Prowler), brutally attacked Arnold almost every single day prior to the election. Editor George Neuyamar was merciless for weeks in savaging Arnold cause of his tolerance on social issues. Other conservative publications like the California Policy Review body-slammed Arnold with regular hit pieces painting him as a “liberal” Republican. Paleo-conservative Brent Bozell appeared on Fox News criticizing the Schwarzenegger campaign. Alan Keyes, hero of the religious right, delivered the coup de grace a week before the election with a major nationwide column attacking Arnold’s social stances. The Chairman for California Republican Assembly was quoted in southern California papers a couple days before the election, with a cleverly worded message urging social conservatives to consider voting for Gray Davis just to ensure that Arnold would not win.
Why would social conservatives be so opposed to a candidacy of a fellow Republican? Simply put, they were scared to death that if Arnold won his new brand of “fiscally conservative/socially tolerant” Republicanism would catch on and spread like wildfire outside of California across the nation.
You see Arnold is far more dangerous to their cause than real liberal Republicans like Senator Arlen Specter, Sen. Olympia Snowe, or New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Arnold Swarzenegger is a libertarian Republican, short and sweet. And the emergence of a true blue libertarian Republican to the forefront of the GOP spells disaster for social conservatives. Libertarianism, combining strong fiscal conservativism with social tolerance is far more appealing to the mass of American voters than their overtly religious out of date social conservatism.
A few times in the past a strong leader for the libertarian Republican movement emerged for a brief period. Senator Barry Goldwater shocked fellow Conservatives by coming out for tolerance of Gays and for marijuana decriminalization in the late 1980s. Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld came real close to popularizing a “fiscally conservative/socially tolerant” brand of Republicanism in the early 1990s. Jessie Ventura came close too a few years later. If he had only been a Republican he might have pulled it off. But Arnold Schwarzenegger has a better shot of any other libertarian-leaning Republican of the past for really popularizing the movement and taking it to a new level of dominance within the Party.
The social conservatives are very smart political operatives. They saw all of this coming. How did they respond? Predictably, they desperately tried to attach the “liberal” label to Arnold, ignoring his past record in favor of free market economics, focusing solely on his views on abortion, gay rights on other social matters. But fortunately, California voters, even the vast majority of Republicans were not buying it. There was too much in Schwarzenegger’s background to counter this view. Arnold was firmly on record in support of strong fiscal conservatism.
This appears on the Laissez Faire Books web site:
I started flipping the television dial. I caught a glimpse of Nobel Prize winning economist Milton Friedman whom I recognized from my studies in economics. I didn’t know I was watching Free to Choose. It knocked me out. Dr. Friedman validated everything I ever thought about the way the economy works. I became a big pain in the neck about Free to Choose. All my friends and acquaintances got tapes as well as books for Christmas after Christmas. If I had come up with Free to Choose, maybe I wouldn’t have got into body building. -- Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold has been a frequent attendee and speaker at Reason Foundation Banquets in Los Angeles over the years. Even more it was recently uncovered that Arnold once attended a hardcore libertarian conference. Former UCSD student and current Columnist Gregory Ransom discovered Arnold’s name as an attendee at an obscure conference on Austrian Economics held at his college in the 1980s. He wrote, “I remember picking up a small, poorly bound book that was a collection of papers presented at a very academic, very technical symposium on Austrian economics… On the first page was a small list of attendees… and there was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name.”
Highly respected economic conservative and Washington Times Editorialist Donald Lambro had this to say about Arnold in a recent column; “he has deep-set political beliefs in the power of capitalism, deregulation and free markets to create economic prosperity. His reading includes books by Friedrich Hayek, the Nobel Prize-winning economist best known for his seminal free-market work, The Road to Serfdom.”
And according to a San Jose Mercury News report, Schwarzenegger is a “fan of the University of Chicago Economics Department, which had provided President Reagan’s economic advisers.”
And this quote from Arnold once appeared in London’s Financial Times; “I still believe in lower taxes -- and the power of the free market. I still believe in controlling government spending. If it’s a bad program, let’s get rid of it.”
Lending even more credibility to his libertarianism Schwarzenegger appointed hardcore free market economist and drug legalization advocate George Schultz of the Hoover Institute to be a top Economic Advisor. In addition, during the campaign Arnold repeatedly asserted his enthusiastic support for Proposition 13 Property Tax Roll Back and Proposition 187 that eliminates illegal immigrants from the welfare rolls.
When was the last time liberal Republican stalwart Michael Bloomberg the Big Government tax-loving, cigarette smoker-hating SOB ever quoted Milton Friedman? When was the last time that Republican In Name Only (RINO) Dick Riordon ever contributed money to the libertarian Reason Foundation right there in Los Angeles? When was the last time squishy moderate Pete Wilson’s name appeared on a roster of an Austrian Economics conference? When was the last time liberal Republican Senators John Chaffee of Rhode Island or Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania ever appointed a libertarian like George Schultz of the Hoover Institute as his top economics advisor? Come to think of it when was the last time ANY REPUBLICAN AT ALL APPOINTED A LIBERTARIAN AS AN ECONOMIC ADVISOR?
Would a “liberal Republican” like Maine’s Olympia Snowe, Connecticut’s Chris Shays, or even the Ripon Society, bastion of liberal Republicanism, support a Property Tax Cut Initiative like Proposition 13? Would they support an Initiative to Stop Illegal Immigrants from mooching off our welfare system like Prop. 187?
Hell no! Those sorts of positions on issues give northeastern liberal Republicans stomach ulcers. Plus, Arnold had some hardcore right-wingers as top campaign advisors like Congressmen Dana Rhorabacher, Ed Royce and David Dreier.
Arnold Schwarzenegger a “liberal” Republican? California voters just were not buying it. Voters were smart enough to recognize that he was really a libertarian.
But admittedly a different sort of libertarian than they were used to. Arnold leans more moderate than your average libertarian. He’s certainly not an anarcho-capitalist, paleo-libertarian, or even a Libertarian of the Libertarian Party. Rather, he is part of the new emerging neo-libertarian movement that represents a more mainstream and highly electorally attractive libertarian agenda. Current icons of the emerging neo-libertarians include nationally-syndicated Radio Talk show hosts Neil Boortz of Atlanta and Larry Elder of Los Angeles, Rock Star Ted Nugent and KISS guitarist Gene Simmons, “conservative Lesbian” Activist Tammy Bruce, Syndicated Columnist James Pinkerton, Actor Bruce Willis and Comedian Dennis Miller.
On the World’s Smallest Political Quiz the neo-libertarians like Arnold come out at about 75% to 80% on economics and maybe as much as 80 to 90% on personal freedom issues on the New Political Spectrum - about the same exact score as a large majority of younger American voters.
On foreign policy issues, Schwarzenegger like other neo-libertarians favor a strong national defense, Bush’s global fight against terrorism and the War in Iraq - a non-typical libertarian position and one that is more appealing to mainstream American voters.
This is precisely why social conservatives trembled in fear of the thought of a Schwarzenegger victory. This is why you witnessed such a saliva-spewing vitriolic response to his candidacy from Christian Conservatives. “An immensely popular Republican who is tough on defense, a hardcore fiscal conservative on economic matters, yet very tolerant on social issues?” That would spell Judgement Day in reverse for the Christian Right.
Now that he has been elected the very thought of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor of the largest state in the Union as a Keynote Speaker at the Republican National Convention in New York City in 2004 must have them literally pissing in their boots.
As the Red Hot Chili Peppers philosophized so brillantly in one of their 1990’s hits, when it comes to the rest of the United States “it’s Californication.” What begins in the California GOP will no doubt spread to the Republican Party nationwide and there is absolutely nothing that the religious right can do to counter this trend.
In a few years the face of the Republican Party will no longer be Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, Bill Bennett and Jerry Falwell as it was in the 1980s and ‘90s. But rather it will be the new emerging breed of neo-libertarians: Bruce Willis, Dennis Miller, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Eric Dondero Rittberg is the Founder of the Republican Liberty Caucus, a group that represents the libertarian wing of the GOP. He is a world traveler and has visited 25 nations on 5 continents. He is a Multilingual Interpreter and Certified Language Instructor. He speaks over 20 languages. His new book is the “Worldwide Multilingual Phrase Book” -