When the front page of the New York Times announces the fall of Arnold, then we know it is real. Now that we know he is falling, the big question: why? As a participant in the plans to dethrone the emperor, I want to chime in.
First, second, and third, this was about the grassroots (remember grassroots?) who were upset, angered, mad as hell and not going to take it any more.
Arnold's first big mistake was when he attacked nurses as "special interests." I kid you not – he really did! I mean, an actor who was getting paid 20 million dollars for six weeks work in a movie and was now fundraising big bucks every week from large corporations doing business with the state and wanting favors for their money was suddenly calling the nurses names. Turns out, he messed with the wrong folks.
Unlike the experts, the pundits, the politicos who check the wind before taking a position, these heroines went right back at him. They followed him to his glitzy money raising affairs, and they would not be silent, they would not be compliant, and they would not go away.
It did not matter how many people told them to be quiet, act more dignified or bow to Arnold's muscle and money. The nurses said hell no and kept protesting. And guess what? It started to work. I got involved after his State of the State speech where, in an act of unmitigated narcissism and political idiocy, he decided to attack the teachers, the fire fighters, all of labor, students... you name it. Unless it was big business big money, he went after them. Perhaps the cigars he was smoking had some other substance in them, because it was such an idiotic over-reach and served to arouse and unite a tremendous number of working men and women throughout the state.
Like many, I was incensed at his speech. And I believed, along with many others who had been doing anti-Arnold work, that his over-reaching would be his downfall. So Rick Jacobs and I helped start a weekly phone call with various groups, individuals and all of us united in wanting to do something.
I knew that the winning argument was real people, doing difficult jobs, against a movie star actor governor. And the passion of wanting to do it quickly, and get it up and out naturally led to using the Internet and free labor – I got a couple of camera people and an editor who also felt strong enough to volunteer and we were off.
In two hours I interviewed three nurses. They talked about their work, why they love it, how they do it...and of course Arnold would never understand, because he had private nurses when he went to the hospital.
Twenty-four hours later we had a spot. And then these tough smart nurses took the "all volunteer spot" and raised some money so they could it run it during the biography about Arnold that was airing on cable!
Soon the spot was all over, and being referred to on news shows!
The teachers, the firemen, the policemen, the students – they all kicked into gear. They led demonstrations whenever Arnold went to another glitzy fundraiser. The images were irresistible, the story clear: Arnold was out raking in millions from large businesses that wanted somethng from him, while the people who serve us, who help us, were being shafted!
And to the surprise of the press and pollsters and politicians, his numbers went into freefall. But it was no accident, and it should have been no surprise. A bully took on the folks who make our daily lives safer. He took on students trying to learn, and teachers committed to teaching, and no matter what he said, or how he tried to seduce the media, it was over. The script had been written, and his role was the loser...
Now it's the front page of the New York Times. From Mr. Universe to a bowl of jello in a few short months. It is a time to love democracy and to celebrate the power of old fashioned, non-consultant driven grassroots doing a job.