"Unfortunately, partisan politics has immobilized Washington," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg told Time magazine in 2007. Bloomberg, according to Michael Grunwald's cover story, was the diminutive half of a dynamic duo revolutionizing American politics. The other partner: California's then still shiny governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Together, they were "The New Action Heroes" who, according to Grunwald, were "doing big things that Washington has failed to do."
The article was mostly a clever way to slap George W. Bush. But there are still important lessons to be learned, particularly as the Big Apple remains immobilized not from partisan politics but by Bloomberg's arrogance. Hizzoner was more concerned with getting salt off of New Yorkers' plates than he was with getting it on the snow crippling their streets.
"The Governator," meanwhile, leaves California $28 billion in the hole, his former presidential ambitions an absurd joke and the state's GOP in tatters.
Both Schwarzenegger and Bloomberg were deemed heroic for abandoning ideology to focus on pragmatic problem-solving. Bloomberg has made this something of a crusade. He helped launch the laughingstock group No Labels, which seeks to get the "politics out of problem-solving."
But people disagree about how to solve problems, and they may disagree about what is a problem in the first place. In a democratic republic, we hash out these disagreements through this thing called "politics." Getting politics out of problem-solving is synonymous with getting democracy out of politics.
The same goes for ideology. If you agree with a solution, it doesn't seem ideological. But if you disagree with the proposed solution (or that there's a problem at all), the remedy might look very ideological indeed. Given Time's political agenda, it saw Schwarzenegger's decision to spend his political energies on the Global Warming Solutions Act as an exercise in "pragmatism."
This was ludicrous because California can no more do anything substantive about climate change than it can halt Iran's nuclear program.
In other words, even if you're on the climate change bandwagon, couldn't you say that the governor of the state with the nation's worst credit rating, a budget crisis more unbelievable than the plot of "Twins," a cratering manufacturing base and famously dysfunctional schools was making an ideologically blinkered decision to make global warming a priority, particularly given that the benefits of the law for California -- and the world -- will be somewhere between symbolic and trivial, while the costs will probably be huge?