As California Goes, So Goes The Nation…

Recently, I replaced my copy of the Last Days of the Late, Great State of California (out of print, but available used) by Curt Gentry. This book is primarily the story of the 1966 Gubernatorial campaign between Ronald Reagan (R), George Christopher (R), Edward G. “Pat” Brown (D), and Sam Yorty (D); it also notes the importance of California, and ends with California falling into the ocean after a 9.0 earthquake on the San Andreas Fault. This is really a wonderful book; I highly recommend it.

The key point of the book is how the 1966 election, coming on the heels of the incidents at UC Berkeley, the Watts Riots, the defeat of Goldwater, etc., mirrored what was going to happen in the nation. I just have to share a few paragraphs from the book as a telling example:

“On a few issues, Reagan was alarmingly specific.

If elected, he would investigate the University of California.

Also he would cut the costs of state prisons and mental hospitals. These institutions, according to the candidate, were nothing more than a “vast hotel chain” which could be run far more efficiently and economically by someone with background in hotel management.

There was, he noted, not a state office that couldn’t be better run by businessmen. If elected, he promised to solicit business and industry for help in running the state. (It was with some difficulty that one recalled Reagan’s onetime presidency of a union.)

As for federal aid, in most instances he was against it. Any activities of the federal government could be practiced more effectively at the local level. Take disaster relief. “Suppose a disaster happened next year,” he mused. “What do you think would happen if a Governor of California, instead of calling Washington, would get on the radio and television and say to the people of California, “These are our neighbors, our fellow Californians. This is what’s happened to them, this is what they need”? He had participated in many Hollywood benefits and was sure the same technique could be applied on a statewide basis.”

Just sort of speaks for itself.