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David Horowitz - Columnist

David Horowitz is a noted author, commentator and columnist. His is the founder of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture and his opinions can be found at Front Page Magazine. [go to Horowitz index]


How Arnold (and Pete Wilson) Will Do It
[David Horowitz] 08/13/03

By | August 13, 2003

A key to Arnold Schwarzenegger's prospects in the coming recall election is one that few have taken notice of: His campaign is being run by the most brilliant California Republican campaigner since Ronald Reagan. Former governor Pete Wilson, who is chairman of the Schwarzenegger campaign, shares Arnold's centrist brand of Republican politics, which is the only kind of Republican politics that can win at the state level. Even Ronald Reagan left issues like abortion on the back burner when he led California Republicans to victory. This is a state, it should never be forgotten, that has a million more registered Democrats than it does Republicans.

Pete Wilson figured out how to solve this problem. In his last successful gubernatorial run in 1994, he crushed the scion of California's most powerful modern political dynasty, Kathleen Brown. The secret of his success was his willingness to seize two political issues that appealed to a winning majority but also fired up the conservative Republican base and put it solidly behind his campaign.

These issues were his opposition to illegal immigration (Prop 187) and to racial preferences (Prop 209). Interestingly, Ward Connerly, the sponsor of Prop 209 has another anti-racial division measure (Prop 54) on the recall ballot.

What was particularly impressive about Wilson's support for these propositions was how unapologetically and forcefully he got behind them. Unlike other centrist Republican politicians Wilson understood and articulated the moral imperatives of what had been considered (erroneously as it turned out) solely conservative issues. Because of his own conviction and political courage Wilson was able to turn around a race that he was losing by a wide margin and surge to a landslide victory.

Most observers of the current race have missed the significance of the fact that the first gauntlet the Schwarzenegger camp has chosen to throw down is the revelation that Arnold voted for Prop 187 when it was on the ballot in 1994. Liberal Democrats have already seized on this (and on the fact that Arnold is on the board of US English) as though it were an Achilles heel that will trip him up as the campaign proceeds. This conclusion is wrong and comes from reading too much of their own press. In fact, the opposite is more likely.

Liberals who think Prop 187 is a political albatross for Arnold are in deep denial and should think again. While it is true the liberal establishment and media denounced Proposition 187 as xenophobic and worse, a landslide majority of Californians -- including more than 40 percent of Hispanics -- embraced 187 and turned it into law. They will do so (symbolically) again. Who better than a grateful American immigrant like Arnold Schwarzenegger to point out to obtuse liberals the difference between legal immigration and illegal entry – and the crippling consequences of not making the distinction?

Of course once Prop 187 was passed, the liberals immediately set out to overturn the people’s vote. They took it to their friends in the judiciary who scuttled it. Californians have been forced to live with the destructive consequences of illegal immigration ever since. But that only makes Prop 187 an even more volatile memory now.

Two events that have taken place since Wilson's victory have actually increased the likelihood that Californians will embrace Arnold's position and reject the Democrats' prejudice again. The first of these is the 9/11 attacks, which have made the importance of secure borders an even more pressing issue than before. Particularly since Governor Davis and the Democrats have now seen fit to provide drivers' licenses to illegals. This is a typical Democratic scheme to gain new constituencies for the party, in effect granting illegals the right to vote (a driver's license and address are all the identity credentials needed). But the Democrats' scheme also allows terrorists to establish themselves as citizens of the country they plan to attack. Californian voters will not appreciate this.

The second event is the impending bankruptcy of the state's finances. Illegal immigration is a significant component of this problem, which liberals don’t like to discuss. As a result of the judicial scuttling of Prop 187, big-ticket items like education, health-care and welfare are still available to anyone crossing the border, whether he crosses legally or not. The costs of this generosity to aliens who are here illegally amounts to billions of dollars every year in addition to unpaid taxes which are estimated at $7 billion dollars annually, i.e., almost 20 percent of the budget deficit.

If Arnold Schwarzenegger takes a leaf from the book of his chairman’s campaigns and champions these issues, he will put together a coalition that will stretch from the electoral center which he already dominates all the way over to the Bill Simon -- Tom McClintock right. That is the formula for a win.

This opinion piece was first published at



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