Schwarzenegger Provides Speech Trump Should have Given

Worth a watch:

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. CSK says:

    Very good.

    But I can’t see Trump ever repudiating the people who are his most ardent supporters.

  2. @CSK: Nope.

  3. Kylopod says:

    In early 2016, Jonathan Chait wrote a piece in which he argued that a President Trump would be a better outcome, from a liberal perspective, than a more conventional Republican in the White House. (Later that year Chait repudiated and apologized for the column.) His main point of comparison was Schwarzenegger in California–another ignorant, bombastic celebrity with a record of misogyny (accused of sexual harassment by multiple women and on record having made some outrageously sexist remarks). In Chait’s account, Arnold began his governorship as an ultra-conservative tax-cutter before making a sharp leftward turn and ending up becoming a surprisingly liberal governor. Chait argued that a Trump presidency would likely follow a similar trajectory, given that both men never showed much evidence of any real commitment to conservative ideology.

    More recently, NeverTrumper talk-radio host John Ziegler wrote a piece with a strikingly similar argument to Chait’s. Like Chait, he also compared Trump to Schwarzenegger and suggested Trump would ultimately move to the left, especially if his party lost Congress in 2018. Being a conservative, Ziegler wasn’t celebrating this outcome but denouncing it. But the point was the same.

    I think both Ziegler and Chait were wildly misreading Trump. I remember Schwarzenegger’s political involvement for decades, and the man was always a centrist. In some ways he almost reminded me of Colin Powell, as someone who identified with the GOP largely for vague, symbolic reasons. And there’s no evidence he was ever a racist. I was not surprised at all to learn that he voted for John Kasich in the 2016 primaries and declined to endorse Trump in the general election.

    The Schwarzenegger analogies reveal something that I think a lot of people misunderstand about Trump. Yes, Trump is not a “conservative” in any meaningful philosophical sense, he has no commitment to ideology, he only believes in himself. But he’s an almost perfect embodiment of the right-wing id: driven by white racial grievance, filled with resentment at elites, drawn to anything that pisses off liberals. Because he’s got no interest in the details of policy and no idea how to handle the political system he’s entered, the institutional party that he came to power railing against is the one controlling the governing agenda. That’s why he’s already backed down on practically everything that was supposed to make him a different kind of Republican: on trade, on infrastructure, on the social safety net. In the end he’s just like a conventional Republican, only dumber.