Is Schwarzenegger's 'good and global commonwealth' ready?
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Shouldn't a very large country such as ours begin to think of a singular presidency and its vast federal apparatus as training wheels, which would come off once we had fully matured?

Centralized government may have made good sense prior to World War II, as we were still getting organized here in field and factory. As J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur wrote in Letters from an American Farmer in 1782, "Landing on this great continent is like going to sea, they must have a compass, some friendly directing needle, or else they will uselessly err and wander for a long time, even with a fair wind."

But the winds have calmed. California today heads toward "nation-state" status, but as much as California may envision itself a global player, "the fact remains that it is a state, and as such operates under a set of constitutional restraints that limit its involvement on the international stage," scholars Douglas A. Kysar and Webb Lyons wrote in the Huffington Post in 2012.

But why should California's imagination, creativity and welfare be stunted in its involvement on the international stage by a historically antiquated and sclerotic vision of central planners 2,800 miles away in Washington (farther than Tibet is from Beijing)? Does centralized government today hinder the progress of mature states like California and Texas to make their way in the world? Even culturally cohesive regions like New England or the Pacific Northwest? And why in our time should Sam Houston's Texas even have a say in Ralph Waldo Emerson's New England anyway (and vice versa)? Doesn't it just homogenize our will to a bland stew and neuter our creativity? Wouldn't a regional manager work just as well — better — for New England or the Pacific Northwest?

As governor of California between 2003 and 2011, Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) declared California to be the modern equivalent of ancient Athens and Sparta: "We have the economic strength, we have the population and the technological force of a nation-state," he said in his inaugural address. "We are a good and global commonwealth."

"To some observers, Arnold Schwarzenegger only became an action hero on July 31, 2006," Kysar and Bernadette Meyler have written in a scholarly paper, "Like a Nation State." "On that day, the 38th governor of California, flanked by then [British] Prime Minister Tony Blair and a handful of global business leaders, announced to the world that his state was no longer content to serve only a quasi-sovereign role: 'California is a great part of the United States, but we happen to be a leading state with a huge economy, and we are, like I say, a nation state.' What’s more, Governor Schwarzenegger emphasized that, as a 'nation state,' California maintains its own foreign policy, one that differs dramatically from the federal government's with respect to climate change."

But federal dominance presented problems.

Possibly, we no longer really need a federal government to run our lives and for mature states like California to hold on to antiquated central planning models is psychologically regressive and hinders our abilities. Certainly an autonomous and old region like New England has its own strides and temperament and could do very well — probably better — without. Possibly we should seek new arrangements; a regionalized model of continental relationships, for example, like that advanced by Ambassador George Kennan in his later writings.

"The Governator" was a man before his time. He saw the future, but it didn't work. Yet his legendary promise to us was clear: "I'll be back." Today, California, Texas, New England and other culturally autonomous regions may be ready for his contemporary, visionary thinking.

Quigley is a prize-winning writer who has worked more than 35 years as a book and magazine editor, political commentator and reviewer. For 20 years he has been an amateur farmer, raising Tunis sheep and organic vegetables. He lives in New Hampshire with his wife and four children. Contact him at