The poll released today by the Public Policy Institute of California confrims what pretty much everyone already knew. Arnold Schwarzenegger will beat Phil Angelides in the November 7th election, probably by the widest margin in twenty years for a gubernatorial race in California. Many factors are responsible for turn-around in Schwarzenegger’s popularity, which plummeted to all-time lows after the failure of virtually all of his propositions in his ill-starred and expensive special election in March 2005. He’s spent more money than his opponent; he looks better; he’s funnier; more famous and last but not least, he claims to have learned from his mistakes.

Arnold now is a born-again environmentalist. In August he signed into law the toughest CO2 emissions law in the nation which even got the attention of Brittain’s Tony Blair. But if a recent appearance of the Governor on Jay Leno’s Tonight Show in any indicator, there’s still a lot about last March’s defeat he doesn’t understand.

When asked by Leno what he had learned from the debacle, Schwarzenegger replied that after much pondering and soul-searching he’d come to the conclusion that what the voters objected to was the Iniative Process itself. The voters didn’t like having to do all the work of governing the State, he said. They thought that the elected officials “should do our job” and went on to say how he would be working with both parties in the Legislature in the future to accomplish his agenda, which he felt the voters still believed in.

This is the path the Governor’s spin doctors, like chief strategist Matthew Dowd, have taken as well, while at the same time co-opting much of the Democrats program on the environment and minimum wage, now, thanks to Schwarzenegger’s signature the highest in the country. Next month’s ballot will, despite the Governor’s words on TV, still contain a hefty portion of 13 State Propositions and a call for $37 billion in State Bonds. Many of the Bond proposals are expected to fail, though probably not Propositon 1D calling for $10.4 billion for Education.

What Governor Schwarzenegger doesn’t get is that back in March 2005 the voters were not rejecting the Initiative Process; they were rejecting his Propositions. At the time Schwarzenegger was engaged in a war with public employee unions, especially nurses, teachers and firefighters. He felt it was his mission to trim wasteful governmental expense, and like any good businessman, decided that workers’ wages were too high and set out to trim them. The electorate slapped him down hard and he seems to have drawn the wrong conclusions from what might have been an educational experience.

Whenever successful businessmen, like Schwarzenegger, get elected to office, they naturally try to apply their business experience to their new job, usually with disastrous consequences. What they fail to take into account is the fundamental differences between business and government. A company exists to make a profit. If it fails to do so it will not remain a company long. Government, on the other hand, does many things, but making a profit is not one of them. While it may be perfectly true that running up a huge State deficit is not a good thing, it is not the calamity that it would be for a business. But the opposite is worse: a government run for profit is a tyranny.

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