In case you missed it on my previous 20 mentions, my story about Jerry Brown, the past-present-and-future governor of our largest state, is now on line. But of course it looks better in the magazine (subscribe!).
I am mentioning it so often because, first, Brown is a genuinely interesting public figure, and, second, because I really threw myself into this story as a way of reckoning with the changes in California from the time of my childhood, in the small-town Southern California of the Pat Brown era, and my sons' experience now as they begin their families in San Francisco and LA. I don't always feel, on finishing a story, that I've made all the points I hoped to, but in this case I think I've had my say about California-and-America, and on what a lifelong pol can teach us about the importance and limits of professional politicians.
Several reader points. First, about whether there is any prospect of replicating the life-long store of political/policy knowledge that Jerry Brown brings to his second stint in the governorship. A reader writes:
I moved to CA in 1983 and saw the transition from a highly functional state under the previous Brown administration, to the social Darwinism and utter sleaze of the Deukmejian/ Wilson era ("welcome aboard the Decline & Fall Express!"). I met Jerry and we hung out briefly in his nest of geniuses in Oakland when he was out of politics: what struck me immediately was his intellectual and ethical rigor, and his uncompromising objectivity and critical outlook toward himself, similar to the attitude of a working scientist toward his subject matter.
He was also the most capable Mayor of Oakland in the 30 years I've been here: he turned the city around, though since that time it's slid backward in a number of ways (FBI's "Robbery Capital of America"). And he's the most capable Governor we've had since the last time he was Governor.
Key questions: Is there anyone you see as having a similar combination of intellect, ethics, principles, and practicality, who could continue on the path forward after Jerry retires from public service (presumably in his mid 90s;-)? Did you see any indication that Jerry was training a younger generation of possible successors? What do you think are the most critical steps to maintain forward momentum in the next generation?
Short answer: No. But this is an interesting question that I hadn't thought about, and will.