California Ménage à Trois:
The Christian Right, the Republican Party,
and Arnold Schwarzenegger
J. CHRISTOPHER SOPER AND JOEL S. FETZER
Whatever starts in California unfortunately has a tendency to
There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experi-
ence. And then there is California.
ACCORDING TO THE QUOTATIONS THAT BEGIN THIS CHAPTER, CALIfornia is either a trendsetter for the rest of the nation or so idiosyncratic it could never be a harbinger of things to come. Christian Right activists in the state certainly hope the latter is true. The 2004 election in California demonstrated again the limitations that beset a movement whose goals are not shared by a majority of the state's electorate. Most notably, Proposition 71—an initiative to provide public funding for embryonic stem cell research—passed comfortably in the November election, although the Christian Right was united in its opposition to that initiative. Just as important, the gubernatorial recall election of 2003 highlighted how the Christian Right's association with the state Republican party is problematic at best. In that special election, California voters ousted Democratic Governor Gray Davis from the state's highest office and replaced him with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The 2003 recall election could help to resurrect a Republican Party that recently seemed consigned to political irrelevance, but Schwarzenegger's liberal views on social issues, as well as some of his own lifestyle choices in the past, stray dramatically from those of most conservative Christians, to say the least. Both of these elections underscored how muted