By The Hill Staff - 02/21/07 03:33 AM EST
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) said Monday that business in Washington is too often conducted with an eye toward political advantage and not to the benefit of the country.
“Division is what Washington has come to represent,” said Schwarzenegger, who is in D.C. to participate in a meeting of the National Governors Association. “For too long, this town has been about: Divide and conquer. Find an issue that splits our country in half, then crack it just enough so you can come out ahead. ‘I have 51 percent, you have 49 percent; I win, you lose.’
“But something larger gets lost in the process,” Schwarzenegger, speaking at the National Press Club, added. “That is the public’s trust, the public’s respect and the public’s faith in government.”
The second-term governor said he learned about partisanship the hard way, when he tried to push through some initiatives in 2005 by the means of a special election and lost.
“The ideas were good, but the way I went about it was the wrong way,” Schwarzenegger said. “And it was too much about us versus them. And I just made terrible mistakes.”
The governor said in Washington, “all of this energy is being spent on bitterness, all this effort is being spent on maneuvering and trying to win and make the other person the loser.”
He urged people to work together and find common ground on issues such as healthcare and immigration.
“Now, one side says, send all the illegals back where they came from, and let’s build a big fence,” Schwarzenegger said. “The other side says, no, this is bogus, forget about that, let’s give everyone amnesty.
“Hey, I have an idea. What about being realistic and just actually solving the problem,” he added.
The governor indicated that Washington is far away from getting back to bipartisanship.
“After an initial flurry of hope, it doesn’t look like anything has changed here in Washington,” he said. “The same things are happening all over again. I mean, what is the point of stirring up bitterness over nonbinding resolutions? Or what is the point of each side preventing the other side from conducting a vote? The point is, of course, political advantage, because it’s definitely not to the public’s advantage.”