Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Left Coast Politics: Run, Jerry Brown, Run

Jerry Brown today (with Gov. Schwarzenegger)


Tabbed as “Governor Moonbeam” by out-of-state (Chicago) columnist Mike Royko (an appelation that Royko later recanted), because of his proposal back in the 1970s that California have a stationary communications satellite orbit over the state for emergency communications service (an idea that was later implemented), Edmund G. (Jerry) Brown, remains a visionary, who thrives on viewing government, politics , social and economic issues from “out of the box.”

And now, at 71, after a long career in California politics, currently serving as State Attorney General, Brown has announced his candidacy to replace the current, term-limited incumbent, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Unopposed in his own party, with wealthy, but lesser known rivals, Steve Poizner and Meg Whitman, staking out the GOPs turf, his chances at re-election to a 3rd term, may not be so far-fetched.

Brown’s colorful personal life (a Catholic and Zen practitioner), which included sleeping on a mattress on the floor in the Governor’s mansion and dating rock star Linda Ronstadt, is tangent with his creative and out-of-the-box political and cultural views, with pithy and pungent quotes such as:

"Prisons don't rehabilitate, they don't punish, they don't protect, so what the hell do they do?”


"The government is becoming the family of last resort”

"Multinational corporations do control. They control the politicians. They control the media. They control the pattern of consumption, entertainment, thinking. They're destroying the planet and laying the foundation for violent outbursts and racial division.”


"Inaction may be the biggest form of action.”

Video: Former Gov. Jerry Brown's announcement of his new election bid

Michael Rothfeld in the LA Times reports that “Saying the antidote to California's problems is "someone with an insider's knowledge but an outsider's mind," Jerry Brown, the Democratic state attorney general, announced his candidacy for governor Tuesday in a video on his website.

"Our state is in serious trouble, and the next governor must have the preparation and the knowledge and the know-how to get California working again," Brown, 71, said in the taped message. "That's what I offer."


Brown, who was the state's governor from 1975 to 1983, attempted to contrast himself with his Republican opponents, particularly Meg Whitman, the former EBay chief who has never held public office. He also sought to use voters' frustration with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former actor who came into office in the 2003 recall, to argue against repeating that pattern with Whitman or one-term state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.


"Some people say that if you've been around the process, you can't handle the job, that we need to go out and find an outsider who knows virtually nothing about state government," said Brown, who has also been California secretary of state and Oakland mayor. "Well, we tried that, and it doesn't work. We found out that not knowing is not good."

Brown was light on specifics, and the ideas he offered were not so different from what Republicans are saying. He vowed that, "in this time of recession . . . there will be no new taxes, unless you the people vote for them" -- leaving open the possibility of more taxes when the economy mends.

Like Whitman and Poizner, he called for smaller government and more power for local officials and school districts. And he said he would try to ease Sacramento's "partisan paralysis."


Even before Brown announced, Whitman released a "Voter's Guide to Jerry Brown" with a list of "fiscal failures" from his record on taxes and spending. In a statement, she contrasted her private-sector experience with Brown's "40-year career in politics which has resulted in a trail of failed experiments, undelivered promises, big government spending and higher taxes."

Poizner said the state needs "bold, new conservative solutions" and "cannot fall prey to the same high-tax policies and special interest-run government that has led our state into a fiscal disaster."

One interesting comment from the web:

A former two-term governor who disappointed the left and right by being a free thinker, left the state with one of its largest budget surpluses (without raising taxes to do it), and has the independence of not having higher aspirations that will allow him to stand up to legislators and make hard choices in balancing the budget--who'd want that? I don't understand people who think a CEO is the solution to government's problems. Would you select a politician to right a flagging corporation?

LA TIMES link here


More on the life and politics of Jerry Brown  

Coda:  Although California is facing massive economic problems, whether worse or just a bit further along than New York, at least for their elections, compared to New York,  this seems to be shaping up as a question of candidates' politics and ideas, and not whether the candidates are too corrupt to run. Jerry Brown's candidacy,whether he is successful or not, reflects a promise of creative and visionary politics: Pragmatism, personal and political philosophies and the concept of public service, not just self-aggrandisement or pocket lining. Refreshing.
--Brooklyn Beat

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