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The World According to Arnold

Hollywood superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger knows what he wants—and usually gets it.
David Shaw
From the Print Edition:
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Summer 96

(continued from page 17)

"The reason kids join gangs, to large extent, is because they want to be part of a family," Schwarzenegger says. "They have no family at home. One parent is missing or there are terrible conditions at home. They want to feel needed, loved, to have a sense of responsibility. With the Inner-city Games, what we provide is an alternative. They belong to a family at the gymnasium."

After he turns on the VCR in his trailer and shows me a short promotional tape on the Inner-city Games, Schwarzenegger complains about recent budget cuts in big-city recreation programs across the country.

"For every dollar they pull back today," he says, "we're going to spend $10 later on."

 

I tell him that sounds like an argument I'd expect from a liberal Democrat, not a conservative Republican. After all, it's the Republicans who have slashed social spending, the Republicans--the Reagan and Bush administrations--whose social and economic policies have greatly exacerbated the pressures on poor and middle-income families alike.

 

Schwarzenegger will concede only that the problems of the inner cities require bipartisan solutions. "You can't keep going back to those old rules--'this is the conservative way, this is the liberal way,'" he says. "I think it takes both sides working together to solve the problem." He ticks off his priorities: "Promote heavily the whole idea of family, rebuild education, create jobs, make people feel proud of the work they're doing.

 

"It's all an outgrowth of the decay of the family," he says again. "Many children and teenagers in America's inner cities have no parental role models, so the only people they emulate are those they meet on the streets."

He talks about his visits to all 50 states on behalf of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports and about how discouraging it was to try to talk about physical fitness to "kids who hadn't had breakfast, weren't even washed." He seems truly moved, genuinely upset. "How do these children ever make it when they don't even have the first initial shot at it? So that generation is wasting away. So they will bring their kids up this way."


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