History 383 - Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer
Brown, Reagan, and Brown: California Governors
Below, please find the guidelines for today's discussion
- The dictionary has two very different definitions:
- a person who is professionally involved in politics, especially as a holder or a candidate for an elected office;
- a person who acts in a manipulative and devious way, typically to gain advancement within an organization.
- Given what you know about these three governors - Edmund Brown, Ronald Reagan, and Jerry Brown - were they politicians? Which definition best fits each?
- Given elections of the 21st century, which definition do you think most Americans accept today? Why?
- If the second, negative connotation is most accepted, then how and why do you think Jerry Brown became governor again in the state of California - remembering that he ran as a proud politician!
Discussion goals for today:
- To briefly preview the historical political affiliations of California's 39 governors.
- To examine the political terms that surrounded the governorships of Brown, Reagan, and Brown - liberal and conservative.
- To understand how three professional politicians - Edmund "Pat" Brown, Ronald Reagan, and Jerry Brown - shaped the political, economic, and social environment of California during the 1960s and 1970s.
Goal #1: To briefly preview the historical political affiliations of California's 39 governors
From 1849 to 2010, California has had 39 governors - 22 of whom were Republicans, 16 of whom were Democrats, and one each from the American and Progressive Parties.
The following trends are evident:
- During California's first decade, five of its first six governors were Democrats.
- From 1862 through 1895, the Republicans held the governor's office seven out of eleven times, most often for two terms before losing to a Democrat.
- For the first four decades of the 20th Century, Republicans completely dominated the California governorship - with 9 out of 9 governors serving from 1899-1939. (Remember, the federal government in the 1930s was dominated by New Deal Democrats).
- For the remainder of the 20th Century, the governorship usually shifted from one party to another, although the Democrats never succeeded another Democrat. However, the Republicans did dominate from 1943-1959 with the governorships of Earl Warren and Goodwin Jess Knight and again from 1983-1999 with the governorships of George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson.
- Jerry Brown will go down in California history as both its youngest governor and its oldest - he was 37 when he assumed office in 1975 and he was 73 when he assumed office in 2011.
Goal #2 - To examine the political terms that surrounded the governorships of Brown, Reagan, and Brown - liberal and conservative
Liberal - Derived from Middle English term liberalis, meaning befitting free men. Also the Latin term liber meaning freedom
- Adjective = broad-minded, favorable to progress or reform.
- Noun = a person with broad-minded, progressive views, especially in politics or religion.
Classical liberalism – emphasizes the belief that laissez faire capitalism based on little to no governmental interference in the economy will promote individual liberty. First articulated by John Locke (1632-1704) who describes two fundamental ideas behind the idea of individual liberty:
- economic liberty – the right to own and use property; and
- intellectual liberty – the right to intellectual freedom of thought and conscience.
Social liberalism – emphasizes the belief that because unregulated laissez faire capitalism and the profit motive can cause the inequality of wealth, a stronger central government is necessary to protect individual liberty.
- During the Great Depression, social liberalism was articulated by John Maynard Keynes who argued for the creation of a stronger central government to protect individual liberty against the perceived excesses of capitalism.
- Keynes described how a government should intervene in the economy to protect liberty while avoiding socialism.
Conservative - Derived from Middle English term conserven, meaning to save, guard, preserve.
- Adjective = marked by moderation or caution.
- Noun = a person with moderate or cautious views, especially in politics or religion.
Classical conservatism - emphasizes the belief that the proper purpose of government is to allow men to follow their chosen pursuits with maximum freedom. As Thomas Jefferson said in his first Inaugural Address, "A wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
Compassionate conservativism - emphasizes that our government has a compassionate duty to serve the needs of the poor, sick, and aged and it should do so through the mechanisms of the free market economy.
They believe that taxpayer dollars should be redirected from government welfare agencies to private religious and civil organizations arguing that:
- social problems are better solved through cooperation with private companies, charities, and religious institutions instead of the federal government; and
- social services should be outsourced to small, local civic associations and liberal organizations that have a detailed knowledge of the best way to serve the needs of people in their communities.
Neoconservatism - emphasizes that the traditional Jeffersonian view of the best government being that which rules least is outdated and must be replaced by a new kind of conservative strong central government suitable for governing a modern democracy by:
- providing welfare services to all people who need them while, at the same time, giving people choices about how they want those services delivered; and
- allowing people to keep their own money - rather than having it transferred via taxes to the state - with the condition that they put it to defined uses.
(Such as allowing Americans to choose their own private social security accounts and their own private health and child-care providers, and providing parents with vouchers that enable them to choose which schools their children will attend.
Goal #3: To understand how three professional politicians - Edmund "Pat" Brown, Ronald Reagan, and Jerry Brown - shaped the political, economic, and social environment of California during the 1960s and 1970s
Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown - the stereotypical liberal democrat (1959-1967)
- 1958 was a turning point in California politics.
Before 1958, the Republicans held five of the six statewide executive offices, both the of U.S. senatorships, nearly two-thirds of the seats in the House of Representatives, and more than two-thirds of the seats in the state legislature.
- After 1958, these proportions were almost exactly the opposite: Not only was Brown elected on a Democratic ticket, the Democrats were in control of both houses of the California legislature for the first time in 80 years.
- This reversal came about because Pat Brown and the Democratic party was able to gain the unqualified support of organized labor.
- The Candidates: right-to-work controversy between democratic candidate Pat Brown and republican candidate William Knowland. (Video of William Knowland and Edmund Brown's campaign for governor at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9b/William_Knowland%2C_Edmund_Brown_Newsreel.ogv)
- The Republican Senator, William F. Knowland, ran for governor on an openly anti-organized labor platform. His campaign was centered around the right-to-work law.
(First suggested by Harrison Otis of the LA Times that posited workers should be free to determine if they wanted to join a union or not join a union in order to hold a job.)
- The Democratic nominee, Pat Brown, was a strong candidate who vehemently opposed the right-to-work law that was on the 1958 ballot.
As a lawyer, he first attempted a political career when he ran in 1927 as a Republican for the California State Assembly at the age of 23 and lost. It was not until 1943, this time running as a Democrat, that he won his first political office - District Attorney for San Francisco. He served in that position for seven years when in 1950, he won election as California's Attorney General - where he served for eight years until being elected Governor in 1958.
- Thus, Californians were faced with a sharp choice: two different candidates - both who were experienced politicians - with dramatically different political philosophies.
- The Campaign: For the first time in California' history, organized labor demonstrated a great deal of unity throwing its support to Brown and campaigning heavily against Knowland.
- There were about 1.5 million union members in California and when combined with their close relatives, they constituted more than a third of all the state's eligible voters.
- Labor unions sponsored a huge campaign of billboard, TV, and newspaper advertising which stressed the argument that the "so-called right to work means the right to work for less and less and less."
- Brown won almost 60 percent of the votes and the right-to-work ballot proposal lost by almost the exact same percentage. Brown carried 54 of the state's 58 counties and the Democrats won majorities in both the state assembly and senate.
- Brown as Governor: In his inaugural address, Governor Brown promised to follow "the path of responsible liberalism." Indeed, Brown would go on to enact his agenda of social liberalism. In the first half of the 1960s under Governor Brown, economic opportunity combined with the state’s mild climate, scenic beauty, and Hollywood romantic reputation attracted new residents at a rate of almost 1,000 a day - more than any other state in the nation.
- In 1962, California surpassed NY as the most populous state, prompting Gov. Brown to proclaim a 4-day celebration, "California First Days" in which he called for the "biggest party the state has ever seen."
- Most of the new population was suburban and focused largely in the southern part of the state.
Large numbers of immigrants from Mexico and African Americans from the rural south came to California for opening jobs and increased housing.
Also among the immigrants were thousands of highly skilled and highly paid aerospace engineers and scientists.
- In 1969, however, the federal spending on aerospace was cut drastically which coincided with a major national recession between 1969 and 1970 and an even worse one between 1973-75.
- In an attempt to halt a period of severe and continuous inflation that occurred largely due to the huge expenditures for Vietnam, the Nixon administration cut federal spending.
- The stock market fell dramatically and unemployment rose throughout the nation.
- California suffered more than the rest of the nation because so much of its economy depended on federal spending.
Further, California's reputation was tarnished - not only was it no longer the land of economic opportunity, it was now plagued by high unemployment, crowded suburbs, and campus and racial unrest.
- Toward the end of Brown's office, California voters were disillusioned with the rapid increases in the cost of living, higher taxes, and government growth. Some began to call for restoring "law and order," cutting welfare, lowering taxes, and getting rid of unwanted government programs.
- All of these factors encouraged the Republicans to again take control of California politics. That initial effort began early, when in 1962, the Republicans nominated Richard Nixon for governor. Nixon campaigned largely on the idea that Brown was a left-wing liberal who was "soft on communism" - a technique that backfired.
- Brown beat Nixon by over 300,000 votes and this defeat led many to believe that Nixon's political career was finished.
- The election marked a huge split in the Republican party between the moderates and right-wing. Nixon tried to distance himself from the right-wing and in so doing, lost their support - which ultimately led to his defeat.
- In the early 1960s, things looked good for the Democrats, not only in California, but across the nation. Unfortunately, the presidency of Lyndon Johnson, his escalation of the war in Vietnam, and the downturn in California’s economy turned the tide later in the decade - and in so doing, returned the governorship in California to the Republicans under the leadership of Ronald Reagan.
Accomplishments of Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown
- Supported passage of the Fair Employment and Housing Act to protect the people of California from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
- Created a state office of consumers' counsel that acted against false or misleading labeling and packaging practices.
- Established a state economic development agency to attract new industries and assist with long-range economic planning.
- Adopted tax increases to meet a deficit left over from the previous administration and to enable the state government to expand funding for highways, local school districts, and crime control.
- Recommended studies that led to the California Master Plan for Higher Education.
- Campaigned for a successful bond that enacted a master plan for water development in the state.
- You should remember that under Governor Earl Warren, the legislature authorized studies for a statewide water program - a program that had been widely opposed by organized labor, some bankers, and northern Californians.
- Nonetheless, Brown believed that California could not economically prosper without the plan, so in 1959, at his insistence, the legislature authorized the largest bond issue ever adopted by any state - $1.75 billion. In November 1960, the California voters approved the bonds for the project.
- Most of the money financed the Feather River project consisting of the Oroville Dam (shown to the right) - the tallest in the U.S - that guaranteed a controlled flow of water to the San Joaquin Delta.
- From the Delta, the California Aqueduct (shown below) flows for 500 miles to deliver a constant flow of delta water to Southern California. Today, the project includes 34 storage facilities, reservoirs and lakes; 20 pumping plants; 4 pumping-generating plants; 5 hydroelectric power plants; and about 701 miles of open canals and pipelines.)
Ronald Reagan as Governor - the stereotypical conservative (1967-1975)
- Background: Reagan was elected in 1966 by a margin of almost a million votes. Additionally, nearly every state office was filled by Republicans and the Democrats suffered substantial reductions in their legislature majorities.
- The Campaign: Reagan's campaign was premised upon the belief that liberals were dangerous extremists and that Governor Brown was just such a liberal. Thus, promised to do the following if he became governor:
- Restore good old-fashioned free enterprise to California.
- Control taxation - Taxation was both out of control and unequal.
- Curb big government - Big government was dangerous.
- Clean up Governor Brown's horrible record - Brown was responsible for "the mess in Berkeley," urban riots, increased budgets and tax burdens.
- Bottom Line - Reduce taxes, state budgets, and the scope of government.
Accomplishments of Reagan's two administrations
- Despite his promise to cut the budget and taxes, he approved the largest budget and the greatest tax increase in the state's history.
- Fired UC President Clark Kerr in 1967 and reduced support for the university and state colleges by 30 percent - three times what he had promised during this campaign.
- Called for charging students tuition believing that students would be more responsible and less inclined to demonstrate if they had to pay tuition. Shortly afterwards, the UC Regents began to charge "fees."
- Reduced 2,500 jobs in state mental-health facilities and abolished many out patient clinics.
- Approved reductions in MediCal payments to low-income Californians - but this was later reduced by the California Supreme Court.
- Vetoed legislation that would have tied levels of state welfare payments to increases in Social Security benefits.
- Provided more severe penalties for violent crimes.
- Supported the California Welfare Reform Act of 1971 that tightened requirements for participating in Aid to Families with Dependent Children, but did not reduce welfare benefit levels or create an absolute ceiling on welfare spending.
- Introduced Proposition 1 which would have become a constitutional amendment to prohibit legislatures from raising tax rates above a stipulated percentage of Californians' cumulative income.
- Signed into law the nation's most stringent standards for air and water quality.
- Required environmental impact studies for public works projects.
Summary on Reagan's Legacy as Governor
- His legacy as a conservative - and as a successful conservative - governor was "mixed."
- He was unable to keep his campaign promises to reduce taxes and the state budget, but this was largely because such actions were probably impossible at the time. Instead, he instituted the largest increases in the state's history.
- Most policies he supported were negative, requiring reduction or elimination of programs without alternative proposals.
- Passed the most stringent air and water standards in the nation.
- Reagan lacked the skills or experience to effectively deal with lawmakers.
- He left office with a positive public image.
- To read "The Educational Legacy of Ronald Reagan," go to http://www.newfoundations.com/Clabaugh/CuttingEdge/Reagan.html
Jerry Brown as Governor - the stereotypical liberal (1975-1982)
- Background: Throughout his life, he had been an excellent, inquisitive student.
He spent several years in the seminary studying to come a priest but gave it up and eventually graduated from Berkeley with a degree in classics.
He then wen on and got a law degree from Yale, during which he spent some time as a political activist - especially in anti-war activities and helped organized antiwar candidate Eugene McCarthy's California campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.
He also marched with Cesar Chavez in support of the United Farm Workers.
He sat on the Los Angeles Community College Board and served as Attorney General from 1970-1978.
- The Campaign:
Governor Jerry Brown's Accomplishments
- Appointed many young men and women from diverse backgrounds to his staff, regulatory licensing bodies, and important state departments and agencies - allowing minorities to serve in the higher echelons of state government for the first time. (Appointed more than 1,500 women to positions in state government.)
- Broke with historical tradition in California by working on behalf of farm labor rather than agricultural industrialists. This included:
- Meeting with Cesar Chavez
- Drafting and securing the passage of the Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 - an unprecedented law in both the state and nation - that gave
farm workers the right to organize unions;
to bargain collectively;
to select bargaining agents through secret ballots; to use picketing, strikes, and boycotts during disputes with employers; and to protecte growers' interests by specifying conditions under which such tactics could be employed.
- Worked to preserve California's natural setting and resources and to end their exploitation.
- Created the Office of Appropriate Technology to explore energy sources other than fossil fuels and natural gas and to instead explore other types of economic development compatible with environmental preservation.
- Created the California Conservation Corps to provide a work force for wilderness and urban improvement projects as well as help with the problem of youth unemployment. This was the first such state agency of its kind in the nation.
- Supported a ballot initiative to create the California Coastal Commission - a measure that passed.
- Unsuccessfully opposed construction of the New Melones Dam project.
e. Opened negotiations for an Alaskan pipeline oil terminal at Long Beach
- Failed to provide adequate funding to agencies responsible for implementing his various environmental programs.
- Passed austere budgets, which left many departments understaffed and underpaid.
- Vetoed the 1977 bill that sought to reinstate the death penalty. The legislature overturned his veto.
- Initially opposed Proposition 13 and the tax revolt that accompanied it. Instead, supported to Behr Bill which would provide tax relief to residential property only - not business property. He later supported the Proposition. Prop 13 allowed:
- Using residential and business property values in 1975, the proposition amended the California Constitution to say that property taxes had to be limited to one percent of assessed value.
- Restricting assessment increases to 2 percent a year
- Forbidding reassessment except when property was sole or improved.
- Requiring a 2/3 popular vote for local governments to institute new taxes.
- The long-term consequences were not felt until 1983, under the governorship of George Deukmejian.
- a. State surplus was gone and now the state faced a deficit.
- Local governments were severely hurting and needed state support.
- Public facilities and infrastructure were not regularly maintained - costs were too high to repair or replace much infrastructure.
- Community colleges imposed fees for the first time. "Tuition" began rising at both the UC and CSU campuses.
Conclusions - Brown, Reagan, Brown: California Governors
- After decades of political exile, in 1958 the Democrats returned to political power in California, capturing the governor's spot as well as two-thirds of the state's seats in the assembly and senate.
- Under Edmund "Pat" Brown's activist liberal leadership, new laws were passed and agencies were created to protect Californians in the office place and as consumers, to attract new industries to the state, to fund new highways and local school districts, to provide new crime control measures, to create a bond with citizens about the future role of the state's public system of higher education, and to ensure a statewide water policy and infrastructure. Nonetheless, the consequences of his leadership for California were mixed.
- Such policies were not enough to combat both the national and statewide discontent with Democrats that had arisen by the later part of the 1960s - a discontent that led to the election of Republican Ronald Reagan as governor.
- Governor Ronald Reagan, despite the fact that he promised to decrease the state budget and state taxes, left office in 1974 with a great deal of public admiration for his positions: decreased taxes and state budgets, as well as smaller government that was less involved in the lives of its citizens.
- Jerry Brown left a mixed legacy as governor - as both a fiscal conservative and a caring, humanitarian.
- As a humanitarian, he passed and supported many firsts in California history - the first to hire women and minorities to prestigious state positions, to first to pass preservationist environmental policies, the first to provide farm workers with basic labor rights.
- As a fiscal conservative, he failed to adequately finance the environmental agencies he created, failed to pass budgets to appropriately staffed and paid many state and local agencies, and failed to consistently oppose Proprosition 13.
- Throughout the four decades from 1950-1990, the success of California's economy was heavily dependent upon the military and aerospace funding from the federal government. During period when such funding decreased, California's economy suffered.