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What Bush and Pelosi can Learn from California

Nov
8
2006

Across the nation, voters turned on Republicans in yesterdays elections; from Congress to the State House, voters “threw the bums out,” replacing them with anyone with a (D) after their name—with one major exception. In California, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger won resoundingly over State Treasurer Phil Angelides.
They say you should be careful what you wish for, and boy do I know that feeling today! Last April, I wrote that, ” if the GOP is going to get beat in this election, I hope they get beat good.” And a nationwide, Republicans were beat as badly as Democrat Angelides in California.
Many are already asking whether Schwarzenegger could serve as a model for Republican success. His progressive-libertarian approach to politics—combined with bipartisan cooperation with willing leaders across the aisle—changed the course of California history in just twelve months.
Against all my wishes, I doubt that the Republican Party will all of a sudden boldly scoff at the Religious Right, as Schwarzenegger has, or adopt a pro-environment agenda if it will cost business a dime.
But if President Bush and Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi wish to succeed in the next two years, they would be well-served to take a page from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and California Speaker Fabian Nunez.
Working together, Nunez and Schwarzenegger were able to do great things this year—fighting global warming, raising the minimum wage, expanding civil rights and more. Likewise, there are a number of areas where Pelosi and Bush can compromise and leave a legacy for the President and extend her speakership beyond one term:
Immigration Reform. The main obstacle between President Bush and reforming immigration policies last year was not the Democratic Party—it was House Republicans running from their shadows in what they thought were heavily-gerrymandered conservative districts. Pelosi could send the McCain-Kennedy compromise to the President’s desk in her first 100 hours and few would object.
Healthcare Reform. The last time Congress tried to “fix” the healthcare crisis, we invented HMOs. However, as Schwarzenegger looks to models to provide universal healthcare without raising taxes next year, Bush and Pelosi could follow suit.
Alternative Energy. Bush has been trying to push Energy reform for years—and has been stymied by Democrats who oppose drilling in Alaska. Compromise here could focus on propping up American industries that promote clean energy to help such technologies become viable in the free market.
Minimum Wage. In a trade-off for pro-business tax measures—like extending the tax cuts of 2001—the President has said he will sign off on a raise in the minimum wage. Pelosi should send it to his desk.
“Protecting” Marriage. George Bush’s push for a Federal Marriage Amendment is all but dead. However, he can nullify the need for one by signing a Federal Civil Unions bill—which confers the rights of marriage upon same-sex couples without redefining marriage. This would nullify the equal protection argument which “activist judges” have used to rule on. Moreover, voters in Arizona showed that this third-course was one which they prefer when they rejected a ban on gay marriage AND civil unions Tuesday—the first such defeat in the nation.
It may be a pipe-dream to think that any or all of these issues could result in a compromise. Short of compromising with the President, the new Democrat-controlled Congress will quickly regulate itself to “do-nothing status.”
To show that they’re serious about moving the nation forward, I propose that President Bush and Speaker-elect Pelosi should travel to California, sit down with Governor Schwarzenegger and Speaker Nunez and ask them how they did it. Now that he has a Democratic Congress, Bush may finally have a chance to be a “uniter, not a divider.”

Share  Posted by Scott Olin Schmidt at 11:22 AM | Permalink

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