As of December 31, 2014, I retired from full-time teaching in Humboldt State University's Department of History. While this website will remain online, it is no longer maintained.

History 383 - Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer
Brown, Reagan, and Brown: California Governors

Photo of California Governor Pat Brown Photo of Governor Ronald ReaganPhoto of Governor Jerry Brown

Introduction: In our final discussion in Unit IV - Getting California through the Tumulutous Decades - we are going to examine the policies of three governors and how they shaped California from the 1960s through 1982. Let's begin with a visual understanding of these governors.

Given that this is just a brief introduction to three very political men - politicians Political cartoon about professional politicians- it is important to ask - how would we define the word "politician?"

Please keep these ideas about politicians in mind today as we begin our discussion about three governors - all of whom were politicians - especially with the first definition in mind - men whose professions are politics.

Discussion goals for today:

  1. To briefly preview the historical political affiliations of California's 39 governors.
  2. To examine the political terms that surrounded the governorships of Brown, Reagan, and Brown - liberal and conservative.
  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.
  4. To discuss the legacy of these three governors - California in the 1980s

Cold Call: 21st cold call on required reading -Goals 1 and 2 in today's discussion guide at http://users.humboldt.edu/ogayle/hist383/Brown-Reagan-Brown.html AND "Brown's Arid California, Thanks Partly to His Father" at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/us/jerry-browns-arid-california-thanks-partly-to-his-father.html?smprod=nytcore-iphone&smid=nytcore-iphone-share

Goal #1: To briefly preview the historical political affiliations of California's 39 governors

List of California Governors, Part I

 

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:

List of California Governors, Part 2

 

Political cartoon "California Republic"


Goal #2 - To examine the political terms that surrounded the governorships of Brown, Reagan, and Brown - liberal and conservative

Cartoon of the liberal brainLiberal - Derived from Middle English term liberalis, meaning befitting free men. Also the Latin term liber meaning freedom

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:

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.

Conservative - Political cartoon of conservative brainDerived from Middle English term conserven, meaning to save, guard, preserve.

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:

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:


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

Photo of Governor Pat BrownGovernor Edmund "Pat" Brown - the stereotypical liberal democrat (1959-1967)

Ronald Reagan as Governor - the stereotypical conservative (1967-1975)

Reading Review - Richard B. Rice, William A. Bullough, Richard J. Orsi, "Eras of Limits: Ronald Reagan, Jerry Brown, and After" in The Elusive Eden on Oncores.

Jerry Brown as Governor - the stereotypical liberal (1975-1982)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Goal #4: To discuss the legacy of these three governors - California in the 1980s under Republican Governor George Deukmejian (1983-1991)Photo of Governor George Deukmejian

  1. President Reagan's increased military spending dramatically revived California's economy.
  2. California dominated the movie and television industries. By the 1990s, Californians produced 90 percent of all prime-time TV programs and 3/4 of all feature film and video productions in the nation.
  3. Northern California's Silicone Valley became the center of the technological world, which in turn, greatly improved the state's business climate.
  4. Law and order appeared to be restored under Governor Deukmejian's criminal justice reforms:
  5. California's prison population tripled between 1984-1994.

Conclusions - Brown, Reagan, Brown: California Governors

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Jerry Brown left a mixed legacy as governor - as both a fiscal conservative and a caring, humanitarian.
  6. 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.