Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t like to lose. And he rarely does. His most spectacular loss was his package of 2005 initiatives all of which got trounced.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger learns from his mistakes. He took a sharp turn to partisanship. He insulted legislators. He thought he was politically invincible. He wasn’t. And he’s not doing any of those these now.
As agents gear up to oppose parts of Governor Schwarzenegger’s his Health Care Reform Plan, it’s important we understand who we’re up against. There have been dozens of books written about him, but one which I think should be required reading for agents is “The People’s Machine: Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Rise of Bluckbuster Democracy” by Los Angeles Times reporter Joe Mathews (here’s a link to the book on Amazon).
Actually, reading the entire book isn’t necessary. Chapters Fourteen is the one that matters. It describes how the governor developed and passed sweeping Workers Compensation reforms. What it shows is a master political strategist playing one side against the other, patiently waiting for opportunities and deploying his celebraty with skill and great tactical smarts.
What does this mean for agents as we engage in the health care reform debate? It means we’re up against a formidable governor. There’s good news: he’s pragmatic and results oriented. He’s open to ideas from others. And he’s willing to deal. There’s also bad news: He’s manipulative. He’s willing to do what it takes to achieve his goal. He cares about results, not who gets pushed around in the process.
For agents to win on the issues we care about, we’re going to have to stay focused on our strategy. We’re going to need to work hard both inside the capital and at the grass roots, where we have unrivaled strength. We’re going to have to raise a loud enough ruckus that the governor and his team have to deal with us.
Now is the time to get ready. And part of our preparations is reading the Mathews book.