The People's Machine: Arnold Schwarzenegger And the Rise of Blockbuster Democracy

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9781586482725: The People's Machine: Arnold Schwarzenegger And the Rise of Blockbuster Democracy
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California voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978. At the same time, a champion bodybuilder named Arnold Schwarzenegger was becoming a movie star. Over the past quarter century, the twin arts of direct democracy (through ballot initiatives designed to push the public to the polls on election day) and blockbuster moviemaking (through movies designed to push the public to the theaters on opening weekend) grew up together, at home in California. With the state's recall election in 2003, direct democracy and blockbuster movies officially merged. The result: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In The People's Machine, political reporter Joe Mathews, who covered Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign for the Los Angeles Times and who has subsequently broken many front page stories about him, traces the roots of both movie and political populism, how Schwarzenegger used these twin forces to win election and, especially, how he has used them to govern. "Let the people decide," said Governor Schwarzenegger after his inauguration. The People's Machine, through remarkable access and whip-smart analysis—there is news in this book—reports on whether this system of governing proves blessing, curse, or mess, and on the remarkable Austrian bodybuilder, movie star, and political man with the nerve to carry it out.

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About the Author:

Joe Mathews is a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, a fourth generation Californian, and a Little League baseball coach. Raised in Pasadena, he graduated from Harvard College and worked at the Baltimore Sun and Wall Street Journal before joining the Times. With his wife Anna, he lives in Los Angeles and Arlington, Va.

From Booklist:

What often looks like chaos in California politics is actually part of its long history of populist democracy dating back to Governor Hiram Johnson in the early 1900s, according to Los Angeles Times reporter Mathews. Arnold Schwarzenegger merely borrowed several pages from Johnson's book of showmanship and direct, dynamic democracy: initiatives, referendums, and recalls. Mathews delivers a completely engrossing look at Schwarzenegger's long and calculated strategy to run for political office, taking advantage of the Gray Davis recall to sidestep a Republican primary where his liberal social views would have been a problem. Mathews details Schwarzenegger's foibles and fumbles (including the "girlie man" criticism of the legislature), as well as his brilliant moves and dogged determination to build "a political machine run not on patronage but on stardust." Schwarzenegger used his celebrity, wealth, business savvy, and marketing skills for a 2002 initiative to fund after-school programs that was really designed as the launch of his gubernatorial campaign. Mathews also details the alliances Schwarzenegger has had to build and hard-knuckle conflicts he has faced and will face as he governs the nation's most populous state. A thoroughly fascinating book. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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