Jerry Brown

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Jerry Brown strangling deficits with the power of the Force.
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I've been in office and I've been out of office. And if I were to choose, I'd rather be in office.
—Jerry Brown[1]

Edmund Gerald "Jerry" Brown (1938–), better known as Moonbeam, was Governor of California from 1975 to 1983 and again from 2011 to 2019. He's an embarrassed Republican with a D next to his name. The Dead Kennedys had him pinned down 30 years ago.

He has a past reputation for New Age flakery, advocating "Buddhist economics," Buckminster Fuller's futurism,[2] and holistic medicine, endorsing the likes of the Peoples Temple[3] and Synanon, and travelling to Asia to separately volunteer for Mother Teresa[4] and study Zen.[2] Jim Jones and his church were on good terms with Bay Area Democrats like San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, Harvey Milk, and Jerry Brown well into the seventies. Back then, the Peoples Temple were an offshoot of the Methodist Church with a focus on social justice.

Unlike Rick Perry, he knows the difference between a burp and a fart.

Presidential bid and lone wolf status[edit]

Brown was the Bernie Sanders to Clinton's 92 run—albeit a crank given his New Age nonsense. He made Whitewater the scandal it became. He was also one of the few Dems who openly mocked Bill over the Lewinsky scandal.

During his presidential campaigns, he ran to the right on a tax revolt scheme theme (a flat tax[5] and Balanced Budget Amendment),[6] but otherwise ran to the left on his New Age reputation.

It's only in the last few years that Brown has started to mellow out. Even his endorsement of Hillary is a backhanded one, as he's only going as far to say Clinton is a better option than Trump.

That was Zen[edit]

From a son of a governor to Secretary of State of California to governor himself. Then, he had a failed Senate bid followed by numerous failed presidential campaigns. After that comes a cool-down period before being elected Mayor of Oakland, then attorney general, then back to governor again. There aren't many people you can point to today who would accept a downgrade in politics (maybe Nixon trying for California governor and losing that.) He replaced Der Governator who left the state a bit of a mess to clean up.

Brown is also notable as his father was governor of the state in the fifties, and he is both one of the youngest (in his first term) and one of the oldest (in his fourth term) California ever had. Once he completed his fourth term, he set an unbeatable record for longest time as California governor, as the current limit is two terms in total.

He talks a good populist game when out of office but tends to swing rightward as soon as elected (this list is not all-inclusive):

  • He claimed to have balanced the state budget, but, in reality, he did so only by counting funds the state had won in court meant to help families facing foreclosures;
  • In 1982, he pardoned National Health Federation (NHF) governor James Privitera, M.D., when he was arrested for a laetrile-related offense, after the NHF started a letter campaign and got 10,000 letters;[7]
  • Like his predecessor, Brown has been very keen on climate measures, although many would argue he hasn't gone far enough, namely allowing fracking to continue, refusing to ban fossil fuels, and allowing the agricultural industry and Nestlé to siphon water during a historic drought. “Unfortunately, in politics,” he said, “we don’t have a magic wand. … I can’t say ‘Stop, there’s no more coal, no more oil.’ Because you weaklings are worse than worthless?[8]
  • He eventually released many prisoners, mainly to county jails, to fulfill a Supreme Court order to reduce overcrowding in California's prisons, after defying the court for two terms[9][10]
  • California Dems have perfected this dance where they all claim to support single-payer, but every time there's a concrete attempt to implement it they nitpick the specifics of the proposal (how it will be funded, etc). So you can't fund it without a ballot initiative, and it won't take effect until it's funded. Thus the sky won't fall if it can't be legally funded. How does this justify shelving it, then?[11] Passage would have been a positive step for single-payer, creating pressure for a future ballot initiative.
Somehow, they never get around to coming up with their own proposals for this policy that they all "strongly support." Even old Jerry Brown was for single-payer back in the '92 primaries, but his tune has changed in recent years.[12][13]

Brown was a supporter of high speed rail in the eighties which, in part, led to the creation of a state HSR authority in 1996 that finally managed to get a state high-speed rail system on the ballot which passed by a narrow margin in 2008. As chance would have it, Brown is now responsible for building the system, using cap and trade money as well as federal funds to pay for it.

See also[edit]


  1. A Democratic Governor Returns, in Spirit by George Skelton (Nov 17, 2003) Los Angeles Times Page 22.
  2. 2.0 2.1,9171,957133,00.html
  4. Jerry Brown: On a Quest for Change
  7. Quackwatch: "Be Wary of the National Health Federation (1993)". "After NHF governor James Privitera, M.D., was charged with a laetrile-related offense, appeals in Public Scrutiny raised more than $5,000 to help defend him; and after he was convicted, NHF generated more than 10,000 form letters asking California governor Jerry Brown to pardon him (which he did)."
  8. Aronoff, Kate, "Jerry Brown Lashes Out at COP23 Climate Protesters: 'Let’s Put You in the Ground'", In These Times 11 November 0217.
  10. Gov. Jerry Brown's prison reforms haven't lived up to his billing
  11. Mason, Melanie, "California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon shelves single-payer healthcare bill, calling it 'woefully incomplete'", LA Times (23 June 2017, 7:20 PM).
  12. Mason, Melanie, "California won't be passing a single-payer healthcare system any time soon — the plan is dead for this year", LA Times 23 June 2017. We had SB 562 ready to go, but then the Democrats came to their collective senses and spiked that shit.
  13. Jilani, Zaid, "California Gov. Jerry Brown thinks single payer can't work. Watch presidential candidate Jerry Brown disagree",Intercept (23 June 2017, 11:13 a.m.).