Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jerry Brown for Governor of California

Nobody should vote on a single issue, but as you might guess, there is one issue on which my vote can move decisively. I tend to vote against candidates that play the crime card by calling their opponent "soft on crime." For forty years now that has been the move for candidates in both parties to appeal right to voters fear factors in way that few other issues (race in fact) do. Even more importantly, self identification as "tough on crime," is as sure a proxy as there can be of the candidate's commitment to the "war on crime" and "mass incarceration."

With Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Meg Whitman, in a close contest for governor of California, I have been undecided whether this blog would take a position. As I noted last Spring, Brown was governor before the war on crime took over California and made our prisons the leading institution in the state. His Determinate Sentence Law had flaws, but it did not produce mass incarceration, a policy that began under Republican governors George Deukmeijian and Pete Wilson, and continued under Democrat Gray Davis. Meg Whitman, having switched from business to politics only recently, had no track record of having to get behind the war on crime and its powerful interest groups. Since either will face a period of tight budgets in which the real costs of mass incarceration are likely to exclude other priorities of spending or tax cutting, both have every reason to speak honestly with voters now about the need to put the war on crime behind us and begin to address the new threats to California from natural disaster, drought, and economic decline.

In last night's final debate, however, Meg Whitman unambiguously played the crime card. The context was Jerry Brown asserting losing the endorsement of the police unions was evidence that he could be tough in his negotiations with public unions over pensions. Here is the exchange according to Kathleen Decker reporting in the LATimes.

"You got the endorsement of that union, I didn't, because they said I'd be too tough on unions and public employee pensions, and I'll take that," Brown said.

"I got that endorsement because that union knows that I will be tough on crime," Whitman replied. "And Jerry Brown has a 40-year record of being soft on crime."


kirk boyd said...

Yes, Brown for Govenor! I'd like to add another observation about Whitman's penchant toward governing through crime -- her repeated references to Rose Bird. The attack on Bird and other Justices like Grodin was one of the most heinous uses of governing through crime in recent history. Republicans sacrificed the independence of the judiciary while using fear to gather votes. References to Bird perpetuate this foolishness.

Meg Whitman is a rich dillitante who never even bothered voting. One day, probably bored of counting her billions, she thought about what it would be fun to buy next and decided on the governorship. Her claims to represent the common person are a joke. The common person is trying to figure out how to make the next mortgage payment, not how to spend 120 million on a lark.

J said...

If you are voting for Brown for Governor, there is a chance you didn't live here when he was in that role or you vote along party lines.

He is still remembered as the worst Governor of California. Many farmers could no longer afford to farm because of him and had to sell out to large corporate farms. Education started it's slide when he was in office. He raised taxes 4 of the 6 years he was in office and had nothing to show for it. He was really bad. I won't even go into the whole Oakland Mayor thing. That should speak for itself.