California Governor Jerry Brown gave an extraordinary State of the State speech yesterday. He anchored it in democratic principle and didn’t in any way evade the budget issues facing the state. It reminds me of why I voted for him:
And here’s Part 2:
At one point in part 2, Brown notes that individual interest groups are resisting specific cuts without offering any alternative holistic proposals for what actually should be cut. In other words, they are shirking their civic duty to be honest and vulnerable in dialogue.
Brown’s complaint about this strikes me as an illustration of the importance of abduction in decision-making. Abduction is where you lay out all plausible scenarios or hypotheses and, from those placed on the table, you draw a conclusion about which one is best. Scientists in debate do this all the time. Why can’t people participating in political discourse regard abduction as part of their patriotic duty and do the same?
Update: To get an idea of the grotesque cynicism and distortion that accompanies politics, DrudgeReport framed and contextualized Brown’s speech this morning (around 8:30 AM) with the following fright line:
Jerry Brown cites Egypt unrest to make case for tax hikes!
The truth, as you can see by simply watching the speech, is that Jerry Brown asked for a process of open debate and democratic decision-making, and for the laying out of alternative scenarios for going forward (tax increases, spending cuts, or some mixture of the two). Brown desires a mixture, and has a specific proposal. He wants voters to decide what kind of state they want to live in, and he wants to see that it is funded honestly.
Democracy and openness, for Brown, are valuable on principle. And a mature democracy should not go stodgy: it can be reminded of democracy’s value, and the importance of government responsiveness, wherever new movements for democracy are being agitated for.
Yet here’s a photograph of the ridiculously misleading DrudgeReport page (with Brown’s image accompanied by “scary” gesturing Muslims nearby):