by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A fascinating Bloomberg Businessweek cover story on California Gov. Jerry Brown includes occasional evidence that he’s willing to jog from left field to left center field at times to catch a fly ball … er, to pursue a policy objective.
In his fifth decade of public life, Brown is a political orphan. He’s a former chairman of the Democratic Party who now refers to “the Democrats” in the third person. He briefly quit the party to run as an independent for mayor of Oakland in 1998 and quotes Nietzsche about how a thinking man cannot be a party man. Above the couch in his office is a large framed photo of his great-grandfather, August Schuckman, who came to California in the 1850s and whose Colusa, Calif., property Brown inherited; a rock from Colusa is the only thing on his office coffee table. “When he came out here, you got your hands in the dirt, you got some people to work with you,” he says. “Here we’re trying to use government to do those things, and it doesn’t feel quite the same way. Welfare creates dependency and builds the power of the state. If everything is state-centric, it doesn’t fit with the idea that we can do more on our own.” Reviving California’s economy has required him to embrace big business: “People who do things tend to have a lot of money at the end of the day. It’s not the granola crowd who are going to move mountains.”