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California - State of the State


California can only be understood by those for whom the symbols, if they come at all, follow the land itself in the order of apprehension: it can only be known in all its dimensions by the native, or by those like him, from within and never from without. — Wilson Carey McWilliams


A "Deep Education" column by Craig Chalquist, PhD, California native and author of Deep California, The Tears of Llorona, Storied Lives, and The Folly of Repetition or the Wisdom of Remembrance.


September 18, 2010:

Governorship: A Spender's Market?


Meg Whitman, sporadic voter, former CEO of eBay, beneficiary of advertising directed at children, and current client of Goldman Sachs, has just broken the record for spending the most on one's own campaign: $115 million and climbing as she seeks to wrest the governorship from Jerry Brown on a platform of the usual Republican "values": anti-immigrant, pro-big-business, climate change laws bad for business--if not for continued existence on a rapidly overheating planet.


What's interesting here is that money is now such an accepted part of campaigns that nobody seems to be standing up to ask Whitman, "How does it feel to spend your way into office? No ethical qualms, no restless nights?"


At one time politicians vying for office at least tried to hide their financial colors. No more. The ethical level on display in California is that of a job-seeker paying everyone in sight to make sure of being hired. Imagine greasing a job interview by giving your future employer a wad of cold, hard cash in reply to being asked about your qualifications, experience, principles, and community involvement. And then walking out of the interview with no conscious feeling of shame.


LIke the rest of the Republic, California remains a plutocracy--named after Pluto, hidden god of underworld wealth--in the hands of cold-eyed players for whom the needs of the state and those who live here conosistently come last, election after election and decade after decade. This election faces the people of California with a question we have not successfully answered:


What will it take to prompt us to organize peacefully and effectively to take back our power, stop placing trust in leaders who deserve none, and create the kinds of communities we delight in calling our own?



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