Luke’s Log: California, Leader of Nations, Heal Thyself


Over at Fox and Hounds, California political reformer Joe Mathews has put out an excellent piece arguing that the individual who replaces former Senator Barbara Boxer on Capitol Hill must have a slew of gritty qualities, and above all be a tough-minded, dirty-handed state partisan with an eye towards California’s future:

“Here are four qualities I’d love to have in a senator…

We need to send people who would step over their grandmothers to gain power and influence… 

So be wary of any Senate candidate who touts herself as a reformer or a believer in clean politics; we need senators willing to get their hands dirty, to fight and cheat to bring home the pork…

This state is profoundly a global crossroads, and our deep interest in freer trade is good for everyone (even labor types who don’t realize it). And we need someone who knows technology well enough to get into the details – and protect California and the country from misguided policy….

The coastal cities, particularly Los Angeles, have deep problems, too. But the fastest way to make California’s future brighter faster is to give big boosts to the Central Valley and the Inland Empire. Their potential is huge. It should be a priority to more than double the percentage of people there who have college degrees, to build new infrastructure, and to loosen regulations there to spark new ventures and growth. Doing all of that will require a Senator attuned to those parts of the state.”

It’s an interesting take, one that is well-founded for a state that is both wildly underrepresented in the Senate (two seats for thirty-eight million people) and lagging behind the rest of the country in modernization of infrastructure. Anyone who loved their state would wish for such a maverick individual as that which Mathews wants.

But it’s necessary, too, to have statesmen who are not simply interested in soaking up federal funds for their state- we need politicians willing to do the dirty work of reform within their states, and in California in particular, the old Blue Model system will keep sputtering along until someone reinvents it.

This is particularly worrying, as historically California has led the way in new innovations for infrastructure, political representation, popular culture, and a host of other great historic trends. In order for the Golden State and its society to rejuvenate and again assume a worthy leadership role in the United States more broadly, dramatic political innovation and creativity will be required of it.

Thus far there have been few unique ideas brought forth in Sacramento to solve California’s problems with immigration, water distribution, public and higher education, public pensions, and a slew of other intractable issues. Before we try to get someone big on the national scene, California has a lot of housekeeping to do at home- and that requires statesmen who will roll up their sleeves and take on the dirty work of domestic reform. Here at Luke’s Log, we’re hoping these figures rise up sooner rather than later.

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