As if teetering over the Fiscal Cliff last December and trying to stop Sequestration were not enough, the just-averted federal government shutdown shows that finding common ground in these polarized times is the real challenge of our elected leadership. It has been so since then-future president James Madison talked about Factions in Federalist #10 in […]
Not often does one paraphrase Napoleon of Animal Farm, George Orwell’s literary stand-in for Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, but perhaps it is fitting when it comes to sequestration: “All cuts are equal, but some cuts are more equal than others.” When it comes to the core function of government—be it local, regional, state or federal, public […]
Political sex scandals have a way of captivating us and diverting our attention from the real issues-even before the days of TMZ, Big Government and the National Enquirer. The modern day celebrity news culture dedicates column inches, cable minutes and untold pixels to talking about shirtless congressmen, "Hiking the Appalachia Trail
The Grover Cleveland. Political junkies and historians might recall the opposition slogan against our 22nd (and 24th) president of the United States, Grover Cleveland: "Ma, Ma, where’s my Pa? Gone to the White House. Ha! Ha! Ha!" In a pre-Lanny Davis
As President Obama and lame duck Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger have
learned the hard way, complete overhauls or transformations are rare in
American politics. Incrementalism is the general rule even here in California
despite our reputation for exporting revolutionary
ideas. California has been in
acute crisis mode for the better part of the last two decades as made stark in
two new books, Remaking
California and California
Crackup. That’s a
generation-load of opportunity gone to waste. Pundits Mark Paul and Joe Mathews close their
reform-blueprint book, California Crackup, with a reminder of the scroll on
display in the state capitol: "Bring Me Men to Match My Mountains!" It is call to arms for all reformers.
Schoolhouse Rock songs and cartoons helped shape the minds of many
Generation Xers. If you do not believe me, call out "I’m just a bill"
to a thirty-something friend and s/he will respond "on Capitol Hill."
Those fun-yet-eccentric messages played a part in making sure I voted
at my first opportunity-in 1992-and in nearly every election since.
While some play down the issue, this most basic of civic lessons has
been overlooked by California’s Republican nominee, Meg Whitman. I
have serious reservations about her non-voting record and feel there is "a better way."
Despite being one of the most essential of civic duties, voting can
also be one of the most easily abandoned in our busy lives. It is
understandable that we miss elections from time to time, perhaps in off
years or simply when suffering from voter fatigue.
To use a campaign
term, not everyone is a coveted high-propensity voter. That being said, however, should we not call for a higher standard
when it comes to our elected officials? If seeking national leadership
or the highest office of the state, is it unreasonable to expect that
s/he takes the time to vote? Some may not be enthused about the
youngest, and perhaps soon-to-be oldest, governor in the history of the
Golden State, while others question whether he has the "Eye of the
Tiger," but at least Jerry Brown has a record to run on, casts his ballot on a
regular basis and does not shy away from taking a position.
Attorney General Jerry Brown is one of those politicians who have been
a fixture on our political mantle for 35-plus years. Soon he may be
both the youngest governor in California history and also the oldest
come November 2nd.
The questions remains, however, is how much gas is
left is the old blue Plymouth Satellite? Brown definitely has the experience and
the name recognition. Does he have, to use a song hugely popular in
his last year as governor, the "Eye of the Tiger"?
Brown faces the monied juggernaut of Meg Whitman, the Republican
nominee who has spent almost $100 million of her own money thus far in
an attempt to secure the brass ring of California politics: the
governorship. He brings experience at running state government, a
record of problem-solving and an ability-to use an idiom popularized by
Brown himself during his presidential runs-to live off the land.
The truth is often only told in politics once a politician has given up
all hopes of winning the White House or stepped away-voluntarily but
especially involuntarily-from public life. Pre-2008 John McCain and
then Senate President pro Tem John Burton were notable exceptions but
former San Francisco Mayor and California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown proved this rule recently during a Pat Brown Institute awards acceptance speech:
"We don’t have people who actually sought elections; went
door-to-door, rang the doorbells, presented their case-made their case,
suggested solutions to problems, and allowed for debate on those
proposed solutions. What we have are people who are just skilled at
getting elected-they are not skilled at serving."
If there is a reformist Poseidon among us to protect from the beast of
partisanship, then surely his or her three-pronged trident includes
modifying term limits, implementing redistricting reform and voting for
open primaries. Let us invoke the spirit of that mythological civic
God of Athens at the polls this Tuesday and reshape our body politic.
Whether you "like it or not" as one of our Lieutenant Governor candidates is fond of saying, Arizona’s tough new immigration law is a flash point in our national conversation on immigration and a catalyst for reform.
Despite tiptoeing ever-so-slowly into the punditocracy, two things have become readily apparent: (1) there is no indigestion for having to eat your own words; and (2) there is no penalty for making unfulfilled prognostications. But like that phrase in most of our public servant oaths, there is often a little mental reservation.
While noting that chances were slim for comprehensive immigration reform this year in my first Fox & Hounds Daily piece, it would have been prudent on my part to say it would not happen in 2010 unless there was some galvanizing event (i.e. the Mass Immigrant Marches of 2006 or the signing of Arizona’s SB 1070).
It is a truth universally
acknowledged that President
Reagan’s immigration package would have no chance of passing in today’s
hyper-partisan climate regardless of who controls Congress. Most members of the Gipper’s own party now
refer to it as the dirty word "amnesty" while a majority of their esteemed
colleagues wonder how to couple a pathway to citizenship with tougher
enforcement measures. But whether
it is former Rep. Tom Tancredo’s pride, Poizner’s perceived immigrant
prejudice or simply the anger of a different kind of afternoon tea party,
chances are slim that comprehensive immigration reform will happen in 2010.
Despite promises to many in the
immigrant rights community, especially Latinos that came out for him in droves
in 2008, the Obama administration appears reluctant to wage another big public
policy battle. Overhauling our
national immigration system and creating a new national energy policy were supposed
to be next in line. But if the
punditocracy thought the political capital credit card was maxed out after the
bruising battle over healthcare, now the Senate and Team Obama will be consumed
over the summer on winning confirmation of a new Supreme Court nominee. And there is no way either side,
despite the bipartisanship
of Senators Charles Schumer (D-New York) and Lindsay Graham (R-South
Carolina), will go anywhere near immigration going into the final stretch of
the election season.