The Cult of Jerry Refuses to Die

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Now I understand why Jerry Brown is working so hard to stop the apocalypse, whether the threat is nuclear and climate.

Because only the apocalypse could end his personal political cult.

The endurance of the Cult of Jerry—lovely for his fans, maddening to those of us who seem as merely an artful dodger—has reached a milestone. The terrific Scott Shafer of what is now California’s leading media organization, KQED, has a new podcast, “The Political Mind of Jerry Brown.”

It’s extremely well-done, which is all the more grating for those of us who would like to deprogram the cult. Brown, as always, is engaging, and says things that make you stop and think. And it’s remarkable to have a podcast about a state-level politician a year after the guy left office.

The trouble, of course, is that Brown’s various koans add up to an argument for inaction. And California wasted eight years in the past decade with a governor who didn’t really saddle up to tackle our structural problems. (Because they weren’t really problems, he would argue, but conditions, and there are no solutions to conditions… and my head would explode right about here).

But it’s pointless to argue. The cult will one day die, but it is sure to outlive Jerry, if not human civilization.

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