By Ruthie Kelly, Editor in Chief
Perhaps the most appealing quality about Jerry Brown is his vast and varied experience. In a time of economic and political uncertainty, it’s very comforting to know that Brown — who polls say is very likely to win the California governor’s race in spite of the more than $141 million Meg Whitman spent out of her own pocket — has seen all this before.
It might be easier to list the state and local level posts Brown hasn’t been elected to instead of those he has. Brown served California as the secretary of state in 1970, served two terms as governor in 1974 and 1978, and as attorney general in 2006. He also served as the mayor of Oakland elected in 1998 and 2002, and he was a strong contender for the presidential race that eventually went to Bill Clinton in 1992. He has argued cases before the state supreme court and served on the Los Angeles Community College Board. He has been involved in local and state-level politics, in good times and in bad, and he has thrived in all posts he has been elected to. And that’s not even a full résumé.
California is in a crisis right now. Our budgets are getting worse and take longer to pass every year. The housing crisis arguably hit us the hardest, and our unemployment numbers make the national average look reasonable. As college students, we have been hit particularly hard by these economic difficulties; the cost to attend college is rising, the value of our degrees is falling and our age demographic has worse unemployment than any other. Based on his record, all of these seemingly overwhelming problems can be improved with the attention of Brown.
This is not the time for experimenting, or the time for someone to learn on the job. Brown’s varied experience suggests he can address our floundering state’s problems on a variety of levels and thus, treat our ailments as a cohesive whole. His website displays a reassuringly detailed plan for each issue. These plans, more than anything, reflect Brown’s understanding that our problems are interconnected and can be improved collectively rather than individually.
For example, Brown’s plan to improve California’s job market is also tied in with his views about the environment: investing in clean, renewable energy, specifically by creating public works projects that create jobs. He wants to encourage small businesses and construction projects by changing tax incentives and working on high-speed rail. His approach to our ongoing water crisis will also generate more work, streamlining our complicated political infrastructure.
There is no doubt, all of these projects are difficult to understand. The complicated organism that is California needs to be under the direction of someone who understands that complexity and has dealt with it before. Being a good citizen is understanding when your own knowledge and expertise has reached its limit, and recognizing which candidate has the most knowledge and expertise for the job. We find just that in Brown.
Running a business is not the same as running a state or a country; the profit motive doesn’t translate well to taking care of nearly 40 million people. A governor can’t remove a public service just because it doesn’t make money if it’s what the citizens need and want and they can’t just fire or outsource those constituents they find inconvenient. Now, we need someone who understands the process of governing, of helping people, of taking a tough situation and making it better, not someone whose experience with economic difficulties is mostly in stock prices. The person we need, in short, is Brown.
—Ruthie Kelly is a journalism and political science sixth-year student.
—The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.