Except for the Kennedys in Massachusetts, no family in modern times has dominated one state’s politics more than the Browns of California. In the gala tenth anniversary double issue of the Claremont Review of Books (subscribe here), William Voegeli recounts the long history of Jerry Brown with the state, as well as that of father Pat Brown, who served two terms as governor beginning in 1959.
Pat Brown was a self-described “big-government man” at the end of California’s heyday. A proponent of what Voegeli calls “help-people liberalism,” Pat Brown invested in a series of hugely expensive government programs that tended to ignore the costs imposed by seeking the benefits sought. Will his son prove any different now?
Jerry Brown was elected to a third term as governor in 2010 after serving two terms in the 1970’s. He is both the youngest and the eldest person to hold the California governorship. Voegeli explains that though Brown the Younger has spent a lifetime in California politics, and though his liberalism echoes that of his father, “the Tao of Jerry” is a mysterious thing. Brown finds himself at a turning point in California politics, one which will decide whether big-government liberalism offers a sustainable approach to spending.
Readers may recall that Voegeli is the author of one of the key books of the Age of Obama, last year’s Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State. He is just the man to explicate “The Tao of Jerry.”
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