Imagine you have an action hero head of state: His bronzed muscles rippling as he battles balancing budgets, bureaucracy and lobbyists. He's a retina-searing international superstar who sets the political world ablaze. His occasional character "complexities" are always forgiven by perfectly timed press conferences. He's a cigar smoker, a Humvee driver. And yes, the nudes of him from the '70s are tasteful -- he's a Republican.
He believes in smaller government, lower taxes and gun ownership. This is the sexy image every leaner-to-the-right wants to think they're just a little like: meet Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. In 2003, what has been described as a "perfect storm" in California breached the levees of the governor's mansion occupied by Gov. Gray Davis. The dot-com bust, a recession, and an Enron-sponsored energy crisis coupled with rolling blackouts all battered the not-so-charismatic supporter of illegal immigrants getting drivers' licenses. A massive and expensive special election was called.
Suddenly, everyone from the neighborhood security guard (Gary Coleman) to the local bikini-clad porn star was on the ballot to compete for the prize of governor of the most populated and richest state in the Union. Then on the "Tonight Show with Jay Leno," Conan the Barbarian announced he'd also be running for governor. After that, there were lines around the block to cast a vote for The Kindergarten Cop. Reporters everywhere were giddy with the mountain of funny film monikers to bestow on the then-Governator hopeful.
When the votes were tallied, the electorate overwhelmingly said "yes" to the recall and "yes" to the star of "Total Recall." The "actor," mega-superstar Schwarzenegger was able to do what even Richard Nixon could never accomplish: be governor of California. When gazing over the footage of not-too-easily-galvanized Californians lining up by the millions to vote for a Republican, the next thought was obvious: He's going to be the president. His only measly little obstacle is to amend the Constitution, which is outdated on the subject, after all. It states, "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President." Who was a citizen at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, anyway? Not even Reagan. John McCain, if you'll remember, was born in Panama.
The Austrian-born now politician, who took the governorship in the least figurative way by storm, seemed destined for the White House! The dude is married to a Kennedy, for Pete's sakes! But hold on there, GOP Dreamboat (er turbo engine yacht), you're about to be sunk by a group of paranoid nativists called The Birthers. The Birthers believe President Barack Obama wasn't born in America and his birth certificate is a fake. It's a conspiracy so elaborate, clever and void of any real evidence that they're the only ones who believe it. You'd think a real Manchurian Candidate wouldn't be black with a foreign sounding name, so as not to arouse suspicion from these folks, but that's just what the Commies would want you to think.
The Republicans siding with the Birthers, and generally ramping up of the anti-immigration sentiment, are shooting themselves in the foot. And not just with Latino voters. Schwarzenegger is by far the most popular and (gasp) competent of any other candidates vying for the nomination in 2012. An amendment requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress and ratification by three-fourths of the states. The Democrats, smartly, won't bring it up and the Republicans shortsightedly won't either. If the Democrats suggested an amendment -- the Birthers would shriek that it's proof of Obama's foreign birth. If the Republicans suggested it -- the Birthers would ... well, pretty much do the same.
Recently, Schwarzenegger, again on the "Tonight Show," said, "without any doubt," he wants to run for president. He described the quagmire as painful to him. He's an unimaginable immigration success story foiled by an antiquated technicality clung to by his own party. My hope is the Governator becomes a champion for comprehensive reform. Currently, he's a reasonable, yet heavily accented voice in a wash of economically ignited xenophobia. He may not be able to run for president because of his country of birth, but he could do a monumental service to his country of choice.
Tina Dupuy is an award-winning writer and editor, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.