LOS ANGELES - After more than five decades in California politics, Jerry Brown now lives off the grid.
The former California Secretary of State, Chair of the California Democratic Party, Mayor of Oakland, California Attorney General, and four-term Governor trading in the Governor’s Mansion for life on a ranch in Colusa County, just north of Sacramento.
This week, Elex Michaelson takes The Issue Is on the road, visiting the Governor’s ranch where the two discuss the Brown family’s history in the Golden State, climate change, rising crime, inflation, legacy, Brown’s advice for President Biden, Governor Newsom, and the next generation of leaders, and much, much more.
THE ISSUE IS: COMBATING RISING CRIME
BROWN’S CENTRAL TAKE: "Crime has many factors... You've heard about the redistribution of wealth, we need a redistribution of incarceration. In other words, the ones they send to the prison 25, 50, 75 years, often after a few years they're ready to go, they're rehabilitated. And if you have a reentry program and some kind of control and help, you can work that, but on the other hand, now we've got all these people committing break-ins, snatch and grab, shooting up heroin on the street, and they just walk out... If we took the long-termers and got 'em out a little quicker and we took the short-termers, we put right on the street and we put them in... you just can't throw people into that county jail in downtown L.A., that's not any rehabilitative experience. We need alternatives…"
THE ISSUE IS: INFLATION AND GOVERNMENT SPENDING
BROWN’S CENTRAL TAKE: "My concern on spending is that [the government doesn't] spend it well, and they don't raise the taxes because that's unpopular, so they borrow.... The American people are, I don't want to call them conservative, but they're not big spenders, so whatever you think about spending, you're not going to be able to do much of it without offending the people. So you ought to spend it wisely... I think it's very hard to spend a lot of money in government without doing stupid things.... You can't just spend on what you need, you have to spend in response to the powerful pressures that you face…"
THE ISSUE IS: BECOMING CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR AT 36-YEARS-OLD
BROWN’S CENTRAL TAKE: "I know a hell of a lot more now. Was I ready? I guess I was, I thought I knew as much as the other governors, although my father was older and had more experience, I would say that my eye, my judgment, was certainly inexperienced from what I know now... If you don't know, you don't know you don't know, right? And if you're ambitious and excited, well, you just charge ahead, so that's why I did…"
THE ISSUE IS: ADVICE FOR PRESIDENT BIDEN AS HE TRIES TO PASS "BUILD BACK BETTER"
BROWN’S CENTRAL TAKE: "He's got this bill that he's trying to get through, I'd make whatever compromise I need to get it. And then I keep trying to work with the Republicans, because even if they don't agree with you, I think it communicates a good sense that we're trying to work for the country, and I think that's where Biden is, and I think it's a powerful message... I think he has a plan. He's trying to bring down the inflation. I hope he can. He's got to get rid of this logistical logjam, get the stuff flowing. And that's all good. There is still a big appetite for his programs on child care and college, on family leave, people, most people, are pretty happy with that, so I think he's got a good program, but he has to choose his words in his press conferences very wisely…"
THE ISSUE IS: ADVICE FOR GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM
BROWN’S CENTRAL TAKE: "In two years he's going to be reelected, I feel confident about that, and then I think that second term can be difficult.. The longer you're in and the more exposure you get, the more they get tired of you. That's one thing that I noticed after my first eight years, people had seen enough of me.... So one strategy is don't be in the news so much and the people feel better about you…
"When you're a Governor, you think, why not be president? Right? And that was not a good thing on my part. I mean, running for president in 1980 was a very dumb move on my part, but that's what I wanted, and of course, I wanted it because I was ambitious and had I not been ambitious, I wouldn't have run for Governor when I was 35... So the virtue of my strong desire became the vice of my overweening ambition, and I should have stuck to my post as Governor, and then I might have been elected Senator and who knows what would have happened…"
The Issue Is: with Elex Michaelson is California's only statewide political show. For showtimes and more information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.