Monday, October 4, 2010


Three major California papers endorsed Jerry Brown on Sunday, albeit with reservations. All were scathing of Meg Whitman, trashing her plan for financial solvency which relies on firing 40,000 workers and going down on her knees before the irresponsible scions of big business.

The harsh and justified criticisms of Brown that come alongside the endorsements highlight how really appalling Meg Whitman is, and for the papers as for many people, this is clearly an election that is about damage control and choosing the lesser of two evils.

The LA Times notes that Brown 'jumps far too quickly at the chance to echo populist sentiment. His campaign promise to reject any new taxes unless they are approved by a vote of the people would only deepen California's governmental stalemate. His assertion that the Legislature will buckle down and make hard decision if only he lays out all the information before it sounds naive'. Which is curious, given that the LA Times is endorsing Brown based on his grasp of state politics.

The San Francisco Chronicle notes that 'Brown would inspire more confidence in his ability to lead the state out of its fiscal quagmire if he were more specific about what he planned to do'. But, he gets the Chronicle's endorsement 'in an imperfect but critical choice between a politician Californians know too well and one they barely know'.

And the Sacramento Bee writes that 'Brown has demonstrated in meetings and debates he is ready to take on new challenges and is the best-equipped candidate to work with legislators to reform the budget process and cut through partisan squabbles over water, education funding, pension reform and other issues'.

These three endorsements offer a classic example of the flaws of our political system, in which a choice is 'either or', between only two candidates, who have barely half a philosophy between them. I personally think that Jerry Brown is progressive on a number of small issues, which makes him appealing when compared with Meg Whitman.

However, I will certainly not vote for a candidate who, like Brown, refuses to address the central issue facing California: a budget process and referendum system that have got us into a deep democratic and financial deficit. No matter how commendable his environmental views might be, irrespective of his position on education, he will not be able to address any of our state's problems in a meaningful way without addressing the issue of revenue. By running on a platform advocating a series of small cuts and minor adjustments as the antidote to major structural and political problems, Brown is underpinning the Republicans' arguments about the public good, taxation and how to approach the economy. I can't vote for that. Maybe Green?

But my parents told me that if Meg Whitman wins by one vote, I'm not welcome home at Christmas. So...


  1. These are other people's endorsements, not mine! I'll probably vote Green because I think Brown would be a disaster.

  2. Whitman supporter! Oh how i missed the blog. Glad i came back. This is cynical, but no less true, one of the reasons Brown might be avoiding addressing the budget issues is to avoid being tarred with the label of a tax raiser. A very easy thing for republicans to do, and especially dangerous in a low turn out election like this is sure to be. Witness how the republicans have been pulling this trick with their "Pledge to America"
    A candidate who is at least open to the idea of tax increases would be better then one how is clearly categorically opposed.
    Plus Brown clearly does have a good grasp of how the legislature works, even if that might not come through due to the constraints of campaigning.

  3. But that's exactly my point, that now he'll find it nigh impossible to raise revenue, because he's underwritten the Republicans' arguments. And he's screwed us twice over, because he's said that he won't raise taxes 'unless the people vote for them'!
    And without revenue, it really doesn't matter how good of a grasp of the legislature he has. I have an especially jaundiced view of Brown at the moment because I'm reading a campaign biography of him by his former director of the Economic Development Department which is fairly scathing (albeit in a lighthearted way) of Brown's style. The irony is that Brown used to refer to this book publicly because it's called THE MAN ON THE WHITE HORSE, and his audiences would assume that it was a favourable treatment...


  5. Interesting article, I'm sure the book is fascinating too. Though I'm sure with a politician with as long a career as Jerry Brown there would be lots of decisions and actions that could be put into book to make him look bad, especially a book that was written by a fired ex-staffer. I'm of course not saying Jerry Brown is an angel, just maybe not a devil. Besides I'm sure your candidate's disgruntled ex employees (say an undocumented former housekeeper) were to write a book she would look just as bad :-)

  6. The book is really nicely written--almost in a 'magical realism' style. It is most devastating not because it hones in on a whole bunch of little decisions that Brown has made over the years (and I'm only halfway through, so I don't know whether the tone changes), but because it paints a portrait of a very cynical and opportunistic individual. The image may be overdrawn, but it fits with my perception of Brown (and I should pointed out that prior to this election cycle I'd never heard anything negative on him). Of course he's not a devil, but he's running on a political philosophy that is leagues away from my own. I'll ignore the Meg Whitman slur!

  7. 'Cause she's your candidate ?:-)?