THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2023
California then: Jerry Brown has certainly had a long, unusual career. That said, is he a good fit for this particular PBS franchise?
He seems like a slightly odd choice for the long running "American Masters" series, but a full-length profile appeared this week, thumbnailed in the manner shown:
Jerry Brown: The Disrupter
Experience the political and personal journey of Jerry Brown, the longest serving governor in California history. First elected at 36 years old and again at 72, explore Brown’s 50-year career tackling climate change and inequality.
You can watch the program here. It takes us back to the early days, when the Browns, pere et fils, governed the Golden State.
Jerry Brown was elected governor in 1974, then again in 1978. He followed the two terms of Governor Ronald Reagan—and who had Reagan defeated in 1966?
That's right! Reagan defeated Governor Pat Brown, Jerry Brown's father. He was serving the first of his two terms as governor when our family arrived in California in the summer of 1960.
As it turns out, California was a different place in July 1960. It didn't seem that way at the time, but there were very few people around.
Pat Brown was famously building freeways and schools, but who was he building those freeways for? Compared to modern-day California, the place was practically empty:
Population of California
Wow! It didn't seem that way at the time. But like the pioneers of yore, we'd moved to an empty land.
We were headed into Grade 8 at Borel Junior High. John F. Kennedy was running for president. That said, the whole darn country was much smaller then. It was hard to round up any voters:
"How did it ever get this far?" as Don Corleone once said.
If history teaches us anything, it possibly teaches us this. It's hard to maintain a giant, sprawling continental nation which contains so many souls.
Increased demographic diversity may make the task even harder. More on that to follow. For today, we'll leave you with this:
When we arrived in California, Governor Brown—Jerry Brown's dad—was building acres of freeways.
The freeways spread in all directions. If you build them, Californians will come!