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Schwarzenegger to bring 'across the aisle' approach to USC think tank

Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at
Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at "The Expendables 2 Real American Heroes" Panel during Comic-Con International 2012 at San Diego Convention Center on July 12, 2012 in San Diego, California.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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Arnold Schwarzenegger, former governor, action star and body builder, can now add another occupation to his resume. He has co-founded a new think tank at the University of Southern California, called the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy.

Schwarzenegger will also serve a dual role as the Governor Downey Professor of State and Global Policy and the chairman of the advisory board for the group.

The organization will be bipartisan in nature, and its objective includes a focus on education, energy and environment, fiscal and economic policy, health and human wellness and political reform. The former governor has personally committed $20 million to the think tank, and will surely be involved in future fundraising efforts as well.

The Global Director of this new think tank, Bonnie Reiss said she has faith in Schwarzenegger because of his work “across the aisle” during his time as governor, citing his work on environmental policies and California’s stem cell institute.

But more importantly, Reiss pointed to the political fatigue citizens are feeling as their representatives become more and more divided.

“What we’re seeing from all the different studies and that there are extremes on both sides in our state and in our nation, but the overwhelming majority of people, whether they’re registered Democrats or registered Republicans or registered Independents, really are in the center and really do seek common ground on dealing with issues that we care about,” she said.

The USC-Schwarzenegger partnership will benefit the public through symposiums, research in tandem with the university and students, as well as through fellowship programs which aim to bring in young, innovative minds to work on policy.

But as it stands now, the Board of Advisors for the Institute is made up of seasoned politicians and arguably lacks the “freshness” it’s touting.

Reiss assures, however, that the think tank is seeking people to join them -- young “outsiders” with new ideas -- but they are still in the early stages of development.

“The majority of people across Ca and across the nation, really do want their leaders no matter what their political philosophy to be willing to work together and find solutions. It does seem to most of us seems most [politicians] are more interested in defeating the other party and getting their party in the next election,” she said.

Reiss continued, adding,”Some of it is pure politics and some of it is philosophical divides, but whatever the cause it doesn’t benefit the people they serve. That’s why we’re reaching out to find people that share this point of view to collaborate with all of them to advance ideas that influence public debate and public policy on these most challenging issues.”

Weigh In

Why exactly did Schwarzenegger take up this new role? Is it a smart move for him to get back into the political arena in this way? And what about the goal of bipartisanship? How realistic is that given the modern political climate? What sort of projects and ideas can we expect to see come from all this?


Bonnie Reiss, Global Director, USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy