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California Governor Pat Brown. (Photo: Public Domain)

The Pat Brown Republicans

The achievements and policies of the Pat Brown era are needed today more than ever

By Edward Ring, March 11, 2023 2:29 am

California old timers can remember the state’s first Governor Brown, Jerry Brown’s father Pat Brown, who served as the 32nd governor of California from 1959 to 1967. It would be difficult to imagine anything the elder Brown did that would be in alignment with the Democratic politicians currently running California.

The achievements of the Pat Brown era, and the policies that made them a reality, are needed today more than ever. Back then California was affordable and safe, and its public education from kindergarten through graduate school was the best in the world. Today, with its incredible wealth, diverse economy, and vast resources, there is no reason why California can’t achieve this quality of life again.

If the Democratic party has abandoned the policies of the Pat Brown era, and they have, the Republicans in California stand in desperate need of new policy ideas that voters will find compelling. This weekend delegates from every corner of the state are congregating in Sacramento to discuss the future of their party. The good news, if you want to call it that, is California’s Republicans have nowhere to go but up. In the wake of the 2022 midterms, Republican seats in the State Legislature are the lowest they’ve been in the history of the state; they hold 18 out of 80 seats in the Assembly, and 8 out of 40 seats in the Senate.

Republicans have plenty of reasons to explain their unprecedented irrelevancy in California. Proposition 187 in 1994, supported by Republicans, denied public services to undocumented immigrants. Proposition 8 in 2008, supported by some Republicans and opposed by others, banned same sex marriage. Ironically, both of these measures were approved by California voters, but they were both eventually overturned, and they no longer reflect the majority sentiment of voters. The only lasting result of these two propositions is that they are still used by Democrats to claim that Republican politicians, and the Republican voters that support them, are despicable bigots. They are the disqualifying gift that just keeps giving.

In more recent years, Democrats have managed to reinforce the Republican bigot brand by attaching Donald Trump to every Republican candidate. The truth is irrelevant, of course. Not every Republican candidate in California is aligned with Trump, and, notwithstanding his bombast and braggadocio, Trump is probably not a bigot. But the stain doesn’t easily fade, and in politics that’s all that matters.

A New Brand for Republicans

While California’s GOP may have hit bottom with voters, new political opportunities are developing. California is not affordable, its cities are not safe, and its K-12 public education system is delivering some of the worst results in the country instead of being among the best. But it isn’t enough to say “Democrats did this, so vote Republican.” It isn’t even enough to say “Democrats did this, and here, exactly, is how Republicans are going to fix everything.”

Having specific policy options available under the umbrella issues of affordability, safety, and education is an essential prerequisite, but it won’t matter if the carefully curated toxic Republican brand, inculcated in the minds of California’s voters for decades, isn’t decisively replaced. And a replacement, recognizable and alluring, neglected by Democrats, is waiting to be seized.

Here is how the California Museum’s website describes Governor Pat Brown:

“Governor Edmund G. ‘Pat’ Brown ushered in a golden age, making California famous for having the biggest water system, the best higher education, the longest highways, and an economy exceeding that of nations.”

“A Golden Age.” Now that’s a brand.

These policies of the 1950s and 1960s, implemented by Democrats, are policies that will excite Californians, and they are the only way to bring a Golden Age back to California. What Pat Brown did for California was build an infrastructure that was oversized at the time, and because of the resulting abundance in water, transportation, and educational assets, the cost of doing business and the cost of building homes was made affordable. Living here back then was so affordable that – imagine this – only one parent needed to have a full-time job to own a home and raise a family.

Things can get that good again. California’s state government needs deregulation to encourage private investment in enabling infrastructure, and it needs to issue general obligation bonds to pay for infrastructure wherever private funding isn’t sufficient. And the money the state invests in lowering the cost of living will come from savings elsewhere. When there is broad based prosperity, instead of record poverty, spending on social programs plummets because the need evaporates.

The entire Pat Brown era is instructive. Crime rates were low because criminals faced certain punishment. This deterred crime, resulting in lower rates of incarceration and fewer prisons. K-12 education as well enforced accountability. If a young student was disruptive, they would end up in reform school, and if they remained incorrigible, they ended up at the boys ranch (or the girls ranch). This certainty of discipline as well deterred misbehavior, minimizing the need for juvenile detention facilities.

In the Pat Brown era, vagrancy and public intoxication were crimes, which, surprise, deterred vagrancy and public intoxication. And voila, billions of dollars were not being fed into the insatiable maw of the homeless industrial complex. The list goes on. This was life in a state ran by Democrats, with a Democrat governor.

A popular movement within the national Republican party is the so-called “walk away” campaign, which encourages liberals to leave the Democratic party. But if California’s independent voters were told that the Democratic party itself has walked away from its own Pat Brown era roots, and that’s why the state is unaffordable and unsafe, it would resonate.

If California’s Republicans brand themselves as Pat Brown Republicans, and emulate the policies of the Pat Brown era, they might just finally throw off the negative labels that have worked so well, and hurt so much.

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16 thoughts on “The Pat Brown Republicans

  1. Mr. Ring offers a commendable recommendation which could work were it not a fact that California voters are basically morons.

    1. California has moron voters? Well, there’s that…but don’t forget that California’s elections have been stolen for years with Democrat voter fraud and rigged voting machines? Then there’s the issue of California’s Republican party being filled with RINOs who do nothing to stop Democrats from stealing elections and in many cases, they assist them. Many of us have become independents because of the Democrat/RINO uniparty.

  2. The Democrat cabal has managed to reinforce the false narrative of the Republicans and Donald Trump being bigots because they (and their globalist masters) control almost of the legacy media. Since the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that reduced the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations on cross ownership, 90% of U.S. media, is owned by only 6 companies: Viacom, News Corporation, Comcast, CBS, Time Warner and Disney. They’ve been able to control the narrative with their propaganda and it hasn’t been until the last few years that alternative media has sprung up to counter the Democrat cabal’s agenda. Republicans need to constantly remind voters that Democrats are the party of slavery, segregation, Jim Crow laws, KKK, CRT and the trans mutilation .

  3. Tj, you are correct about the control coalition. I don’t think it’s going to work describing today’s democrats as being affiliated with slavery, KKK, etc. That was the democrat party a long time ago. They certainly now are the party of CRT, trans mutilation and Orwellian Ministry of Truth indoctrination. That’s what needs to be countered.

    1. No, being affiliated with slavery, the KKK, etc. is still relevant to the Democrat party today. Republicans should constantly remind voters of the Democrat’s current and racist past such as when Joe Biden as Vice President in 2010 eulogized Democrat Senator Robert Byrd who was a KKK Grand Wizard, and how Kamala Harris’s family were wealthy Jamaican plantation slave owners according to her father Donald Harris.

      1. If Democrat politicians demand Black reparations for slavery, then Democrats should be the ones paying any reparations because it was Democrats who imposed slavery and fought for slavery in the Civil War.

  4. “Pat Brown” Republicans? Seems that Mr. Ring, like many current California GOP establishment Republicans, are living in the past – psychologically and emotionally. The “cheese” they thrived on was moved a long time ago. They just never prepared themselves and the Party for that eventuality. I would recommend that the entire California GOP reads this book (again): https://www.k-state.edu/registrar/intranet/who%20moved%20my%20cheese.pdf. The CalGOP can change – Better Late Than Never.

  5. Too bad Pat’s son didn’t carry on his father’s policies, his daughter too as OR is a mess now after her reign. Jerry, or Moonbeam and his sister are spoiled rich kids who claim they know how the “little people” live but really don’t. They are very educated, rich and instead of really carrying out the true old school Democrats agenda they have turned to wokeism to make themselves feel better about their privileged lives and to make money. Moonbeam ushered in the devastating social welfare, crime, water, air “quality”, environmental, energy, illegal alien, failing schools and union movement that has devastated CA. I use to be a Democrat and worked in their failed social welfare policies in CA and walked away from the party because I was so disgusted with what they are now pushing which is the total opposite of what Pat Brown did. Moonbeam has now retreated to the family compound in a rural agricultural area of CA which is a Republican area where generational farmers are struggling to grow our food because of his devastating appointments to the water and air resources boards in Sac. He loves to tout how he is from a rural area but has no clue and doesn’t care about what he has done to that area of the state or any other for that matter. People are fleeing CA by the thousands, the infrastructure is failing, crime is skyrocketing, our children are stoned and stupid from pot and failing public schools, our forests burning because of his horrible “environmental” policies, water is scare and farmers are not able to continue CA’s status as the bread basket of the US, etc… I doubt his father, per this article, would be proud of Moonbeam and his daughters accomplishments as it has tarnished the reputation of the Democratic Party and their fathers legacy. CA is no longer what Pat Brown worked for it to be.

  6. Gov. Pat Brown was helped by a generous federal government that enabled him to go on a building binge in the late 1950s and early ’60s that included highways, university campuses and waterworks. He grew the size of California’s government and gave us his spoiled brat son Jerry Brown who nearly destroyed the state. Meh, California Republicans could do better than emulate an over-rated Democrat from the last century?

  7. Mr. Ring thinks that if California’s Republicans simply brand themselves as Pat Brown Republicans, and emulate the policies of the Pat Brown era, they might just finally throw off the negative labels that have worked so well, and hurt so much? WTH? Really? This is not the California of the late 50’s and early 60’s and trying transform the image of the Republican party to reflect a big spending Democrat governor from that era is ludicrous!

  8. Let’s not forget how utterly racist present day democrats are w prop 16 and the way the SFUSD school board and UC’s treat Asians; or how Biden most recently did the bidding of the racists over at Harvard. Why do Democrats get a pass for their unbridled bigotry? They are in fact the biggest racists in town.

  9. Until the Dominioned voting systems are ripped out and replaced with election integrity programs and cleaned-up, transparent voter rolls, CA is doomed to the cheating that has characterized our (s)elections since the 2000’s, and the plandemic-induced vote-by-mail (really CHEAT-by-mail) voting procedures, we are gonna have to swallow whatever effluent the Democrats want to shovel down our throats…
    The world has sadly changed since Brown Sr.’s time, and his loser son started the decline, accelerated it in his second term and WEF-boy “HairGel” Newsom is the coup de grace….

  10. Proposition 187 from 1994 and Proposition 8 from 2008 were both strongly supported by a majority of the voters so it wasn’t those propositions that caused the Republican’s unprecedented irrelevancy? Instead, it’s probably Democrat voter fraud that has resulted in many Republican election losses and the fact that Republican leadership refuses to push for voter integrity? Also, many Republicans have given up on the Republican party? There are far too many liberal RINO Republicans in leadership positions who want Republicans to be more like Democrats?

    1. Prop 187 had enormous support in this state. Mr. Ring is trying to label Conservatives and people who care about law and order as bigots. 187 was not overturned legally, it was defeated in court because the state refused to defend the will of the people in court.

      Is Mr. Ring a RINO operative of the Democrat party?

      1. My point is not that GOP voters are bigots and I’m sorry that is how you interpreted the article. My point is that Democrats have used the fact that a Republican governor endorsed Prop. 187, and the fact that a high percentage of GOP voters supported it, to allege that Republicans are all bigots. Democrats have been using Prop. 187 against Republicans for decades. It’s not news that Democrats use the “racist” accusation to stigmatize GOP politicians and voters. How my making that observation translates into somehow meaning I agree with the accusation is a very big, and completely illogical and inaccurate leap. I am sorry for the misunderstanding. I don’t think GOP voters are bigots. I don’t even think that Democrats believe it. They just find it useful to say so.

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