Producer, Educator & Writer
For KQED news.
Early Sunday morning, former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took to Twitter with a nearly eight-minute video to call out his fellow Republicans who stood by, or even helped the incitement, of Wednesday’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
Schwarzenegger opens with memories of growing up in Austria, where his community was keenly aware of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass carried out in 1938 by what he called the “Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys.”
And he warned this recent insurrection carries echoes of that historic night.
“Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States,” Schwarzenegger said. “The broken glass was the windows of the United States Capitol. But the mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol, they shattered the ideals we took for granted.”Sponsored
“They trampled the very principles on which our country was founded,” he added.
Schwarzenegger doesn’t always weigh in on every political happening, but he began the year with an opinion piece in the Economist titled “Why Republicans must stop Trump,” and has a clear opinion and motivational message for the United States grappling with how to move forward in this current moment.
In his Twitter address, he also spoke about the guilt among those who participated in Hitler’s regime. “I was surrounded by broken men drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history,” he said. Schwarzenegger said his father struggled with alcoholism because of that guilt and would strike his children, something that happened to many men across Schwarzenegger’s community as they struggled with their role in World War II.
“I know there is a fear in this country and all over the world that something like this could happen right here,” he said. “We must be aware of the dire consequences of selfishness and cynicism.”
He addressed President Trump directly (as a governator would), calling Trump out for attempting to overturn the election. “President Trump is a failed leader,” Schwarzenegger said. “He will go down in history as the worst president ever.”
And, he added, Trump “soon will be as irrelevant as an old tweet.”
But “what are we to make of those elected officials who have enabled his lies and his treachery?” Schwarzenegger asks, in the video. “I would remind them of what Teddy Roosevelt said: ‘Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.’ “
Schwarzenegger ends his message by recalling a phrase from Catholic school — a “servant’s heart,” appealing to elected representatives to act in service to the broader ideals. “We need public servants who will serve higher ideals, the ideals in which this country was founded and ideals that other countries look up to,” he said.
As the video draws to a close, Schwarzenegger channels his action hero vibes, holding up a sword for the American people to consider.
“The more you temper a sword, the stronger it becomes. The more you pound it with a hammer and heat it in the fire and then thrust it into the cold water, the stronger it becomes,” he said. “Our democracy is like the steel of this sword — the more it is tempered, the stronger it becomes.”
Finally, in the name of healing rifts between parties and Americans, he called on everyone “no matter what your political affiliation is … to join me in saying to President-elect Biden, ‘President-elect Biden, we wish you great success as our president. If you succeed, our nation succeeds.’ “