The Governor’s Last Stand: California’s Jerry BrownIs Banking on a Last-Gasp Proposal to Save the Biggest Economy in the Nation
When California Governor Jerry Brown addressed the state chamber of commerce just before Memorial Day to gain support to raise taxes, he seemed to revel in admitting he was stuck in a box. This was precisely the dilemma that existentialist heroes relish: at a time when the word taxes had become dirty, he was more or less leveraging his political future, and the state’s, on a measure to broadly raise revenues. This seemed like the only way out for a government that was running up massive deficits while firing teachers, shuttering libraries, and cutting back support for the poor. But Brown embraces his image as one resolute man pitted against a cold and indifferent political universe.
“Aristotle’s poetics talks about three acts—the beginning, the middle, and the end,” he told the business crowd in what was considered a well-received speech. “We’re just beginning Act II. It’s true some politicians don’t have a third act. I hope I’m not one of them, because the third act is when it gets good. Act II is when the protagonist is under pressure to get out of the box he’s in,” he added. “You wait. We’re going to get to Act III very soon.”
Over the past several decades, the Golden State has become a dyspeptic brew of deficits, faltering services, and decaying schools—presided over by a government whose popularity rating barely clears the single digits. Californians are indeed waiting to see what Brown will do to get himself, and us, out of this mess.