The Arnold revolution

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 24, 2005

We’ll never change the Constitution to let him become president, but Arnold Schwarzenegger is conducting a one-man revolution aimed at providing presidential leadership.

The East Coast media has missed the full dimensions of the California governor’s accomplishments and bold proposals. Together, they constitute one of the most astounding, imaginative and forward-thinking agendas in our recent history.

Start with the War on Terror. While President Bush hunts the terrorists down and pressures nation-states to give up their sponsorship of terror gangs, Schwarzenegger is working to solve the problem of Islamic terrorism once and for all – by ending our dependence on foreign oil and stopping the worldwide economic and climatic distortions that global oil usage causes.

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He’s doing it by providing aggressive state leadership to open the way for hydrogen fuel cell cars. While President Bush speaks of the advent of these vehicles in the indefinite future, Gov. Schwarzenegger is bringing them to the here and now by converting gas stations along California’s interstate highways to provide hydrogen fuel as well as gasoline.

With financing projected to come one-third each from federal, state and private sources, California will offer hydrogen fuel every few miles in urban areas and at least every 20 miles along the highway system by 2010. Eventually, he and the leaders of Washington, Oregon, Baja California and British Columbia will work together to create a &uot;hydrogen highway&uot; that will run from B.C. (British Columbia) to B.C. (Baja California).

The Schwarzenegger plan calls for state-subsidized production of hydrogen and for tax incentives for those who purchase hydrogen cars.

Replacing gasoline engines with hydrogen-fuel cells would eliminate two-thirds of America’s need for oil – a demand that we could meet entirely with domestically produced oil.

Since California accounts for 20 percent of U.S. new-car purchases, the tail will wag the dog and a national hydrogen grid will become almost inevitable.

But Arnold’s revolution also aims to restore democracy at home.

Disgusted by the gerrymandering that led to the re-election of all but a handful of members of Congress in 2000 and 2002 (including all 54 California congressmen in 2002 and everyone but Gary Condit in 2000), Schwarzenegger is acting to end the disgrace on our democracy. He is pushing a voter initiative to adopt the Iowa Plan – to have legislative and congressional districts drawn by independent jurists who aren’t permitted to take account of incumbency or party in creating the districts.

The cynical political deals that underscored the post-2000 Census reapportionment made the incumbents of both parties invulnerable and limited the number of swing seats to a mere 5 percent of the House of Representatives. Gov. Arnold will change all that in California. And, as with hydrogen cars, his action will likely awaken voters across the nation to take back their democracy.

Finally, Schwarzenegger is striking at the root of the problem with public education by seeking to smash teacher tenure and pay and promote teachers based on merit, just like other employees in America. The privileged classroom enclave where incompetence is not punished and excellence is not rewarded will be ended in California.

Too bad that so-called education reformers like Hillary Clinton dropped merit-based promotion (which she once supported in Arkansas but dropped when she came to New York, with its virulent teachers union).

If the legislature does not pass the &uot;governator’s&uot; tenure-reform and redistricting programs, he’ll put these issues on the ballot where they will most likely pass.

In energy, the environment, anti-terrorism, democratic reform and education, Arnold Schwarzenegger is showing us what a governor can do. Are there other governors willing to follow his bold example?

Dick Morris was an adviser to Bill Clinton for 20 years. E-mail Dick Morris at