Let’s hope that isn’t the opening line in the press release from the Democrat who finally decides to go up against Jerry Brown for governor. Yes, it’s a tough and less than glamorous time to be Governor of the nation’s largest state. And Jerry Brown hasn’t even officially announced. But boy, could somebody else at least look interested?
Maybe if Obama’s first year had looked less taxing and stressful, you’d have more people chomping at the bit to be California’s governor. It’s apparently a great launch pad to the Presidency, even when the lion’s share of your resume reads “Hollywood actor.” (Visit www.Reagan/ wrong guy for job/ mistake.com) But maybe, at this particular historical moment, being the President isn’t looking like that much fun.
Which is exactly right. Bush’s long vacations clearing brush on Rancho Avoido in Texas became insult added to injury. Sorry, Obama, but we did in fact expect you to work some long hours, especially right here at the top. And as we know from the recent marathon budget sessions in Sacramento, the hours can also get long running the Golden State.
So is that why no one is emerging to give Brown a little competition? Is that why nobody else wants to “go for it”? Because at the end of the first decade of the 21st century it’s now clear that the demands of public office are, in fact, demanding…? Maybe several elements are converging at once.
Government right now, at both the state and federal level, seems to be about riding various bucking broncos of tough choices that ultimately create pain of some kind. Among the many ways that Republicans are crippling the American people is their constant suggestion that they have some other less painful way. A few days ago, House Minority Leader John Boehner had himself photographed in a manner such that the 1900 pages of a version of the health care bill looked like a mountain of paper almost blocking him out. Why? Because reading is hard, and who wants to read 1900 pages of something that would save human lives and keep hard working families from going broke?
But by visualizing the “pain” of having to read something with a lot of pages, Boehner implied that the thing itself was wrong. The Republicans have bluntly displayed their lack of direction and obstructionist tactics of late, but Boehner’s big pile of hard homework is the first time since Obama’s election that they’ve argued that a piece of historical legislation is no good because you can’t understand it as easily as an episode of Family Guy or the Life section of USA Today.
So there’s Pain and Difficulty, with difficulty being defined by one side as too much reading. Then of course there’s Money. Money is out there and a few people have it while government struggles to sustain programs for those who don’t. But what happens when government finally says “We have to holster your greed to create fairness with something as simple as health care so that people don’t die without it?” You get millions of dollars of media insisting that we maintain the status quo, you get Joe Lieberman, you get Boehner’s “Don’t all that readin’ make you head hurt?” and you get branded a Socialist. So that makes politics difficult, to say the least.
And now it looks like the perceived and real level of difficulty inherent in taking over the job of governor of California is resulting in Democratic apathy at the state level. It’s true that Jerry Brown is a formidable opponent with much to recommend him for the ‘gig’. But should we be concerned about a decrease in appetite for political office and the campaigns that go with it just because right now there’s real work waiting for anyone who steps up to the plate?
I lived in Colorado when Democrat Roy Romer was governor there and I was deeply impressed when Romer took on the often thankless job of becoming Superintendent of Los Angeles Unified School District from 2001 to 2006. I couldn’t tell you about his personal motivations for jumping into all that, but I note that his bio says he studied ethics at Yale. Having once worked with him on a presentation to lure business to Colorado, I can tell you he was a nice guy. Whether nice guys always finish first, it’s still very important to have them involved in the race… whatever it might be.
Some have observed that a primary race for gubernatorial candidates can be a messy thing with lots of exposure and adjustment to attacks. An LA Times story on the lack of a Democratic opponent for Jerry Brown suggested that the party might want to leave him unopposed so that he has more will and strength for the election, especially if Brown is up against the resources (and inevitable mud cannons) of one or more rich Republicans. I hope that’s the strategy and that Brown isn’t the single Democratic nominee simply because John Boehner says the job description of a modern-day governor has too many pages.