Given the election is less than a week away, I figured I would offer my two cents regarding the upcoming gubernatorial election. In an age where it seems like radical and outrageous politics trumps rational discussion, I’m glad California has largely refrained from joining in the unproductive conversation that seems to have gripped the rest of the nation (note the absence of the Tea Party in California elections). Nonetheless, the negativity of the gubernatorial campaigns has obscured some of the facts.

Although the term “career politician” often has negative connotations, I personally do not share the sentiment. In fact, I think Jerry Brown’s career is one of his best attributes. Granted, in the Democratic primary I was pulling for Gavin Newsom (he is highly effective as San Francisco’s mayor), but Jerry Brown is acceptable in his place.

First, as governor of California in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Brown brought a bohemian atmosphere to the office, replacing the state limousine with a Plymouth and shunning the governor’s mansion for a $250 per month apartment. He was a visionary in terms of micro-technology and a green economy and focused efforts on improving mass transit and creating designated lanes for carpools and bikes, efforts that were mocked at the time but are now ubiquitous features of urban planning.

After Brown’s failed presidential bid in 1992, Brown decided to return to California politics as mayor of Oakland in 1997. Despite Meg Whitman’s ads blaming Brown for the problems in Oakland at this time, the truth of the matter is that Brown threw himself into a difficult situation, with Oakland’s schools already in disarray, an escalating crime rate, and an evaporating tax base. As mayor, Brown lived downtown in a loft and could be seen walking the streets without bodyguards, acting like just another member of the community, not some hotshot politician (or CEO for that matter). Brown revitalized the downtown area to attract businesses and attempted to fix the schools by introducing charter schools, designed to be examples for the public schools to follow, although Oakland school kids only performed marginally better. Brown seems to almost have a missionary zeal for politics, demonstrating an appreciation for the value of his work and not just an infatuation with the power.

On the other side is Republican Meg Whitman. An obviously adept CEO, Whitman has no political credentials and had even failed to vote on numerous occasions until 2002, perhaps when she realized she would have to be a registered voter if she ever wanted to hold office. Although many pundits compare a position of political leadership to being a CEO of a business, I am much less inclined to see the connection. There are certainly parallels to the jobs (organization, efficiency, leadership, etc.) but there is a fundamental difference in that the bottom line for a CEO is the almighty dollar, while the bottom line for any politician always comes down to real people and real lives.

Sure Meg Whitman grew eBay by cutting costs and outsourcing jobs, but there is no analogous situation in the political realm except, perhaps, by cutting spending and cutting public jobs. But although these methods may work for a business’s profit margin, I do not believe these methods would work for California. Cutting jobs does not help the unemployment rate nor consumer confidence, which Whitman has repeatedly addressed in her statements. Even though the large investment banks hold primary responsibility for the economic recession, somehow public employees incorrectly entered the conversation with their fat cat checks and bloated pensions. You know, all those policemen, firemen, nurses and teachers who get paid an exorbitant amount of money for how little they contribute to society. Whitman wants to cut public sector jobs and reform welfare (aka take away money from those most in need of it) while eliminating the state capital gains tax, a policy that inevitably favors the wealthy as they tend to own a greater share of stocks and bonds.

It also troubles me that Whitman has spent so much money on her campaign, surpassing $163 million (compared to Brown’s $23 million), including $140 million of her own money. It seems like her constant barrage of slick ads is trying to compensate for a lack of substantive policy. In addition, the manner in which she has campaigned (the negative ads, the false statements) leaves much to be desired in politics and is one of the many reasons people view politics so negatively. In my mind, there is no doubt  Jerry Brown would serve California better as governor than Meg Whitman, complete with his years of experience in office and his pragmatic approach to politics.

Jeremy Cutcher is a political science senior and Mustang Daily liberal columnist.

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7 Comments

  1. Although I believe this is a well thought out and good argument, you possess some logical fallacies throughout. First of all by using extreme words such as “radical”, you are name calling. Immediately after, you polarize the entire United States by saying that an unproductive conversation has gripped the nation. In addition, in the conclusion of your 5th paragraph, you oversimplify the “bottom line” for a politician. Despite your statement, often times it does come down to the “almighty dollar” in order to balance the state’s budget. Your last paragraph also entails a non sequitor when you write that Whitman’s “slick ads” have a relationship with her “lack of substantive policy.” Lastly, you make a hasty generalization by assuming that the negative ads and false statements Whitman uses characterize her campaign “manner” as a whole.

  2. I liked this article and thought you made some good points, however, you had some logical fallacies that weakend your argument. First of all you have a few red hearings that lead readers attention away from the argument and to another topic that is not relevant. The first example of this is in the 3rd paragraph when you mention how much Jerry Brown spend on his apartment. How much he spends on his home is not relevant to how he would run this state. This same thing happens in the last paragraph when you mention how much Meg Whiteman has spent on her campaign. This is once again distracting readers from the main issues at hand.Plus you follow this up with a non sequitur because her”slick ads” doesn’t necessarily mean she has a “lack of substantive policy.” Another logical fallacy I spotted was your polarization of CEOs and politicians. Its not right to say all CEOs care about is money and all politicians care about is “real people and real lives.” Both of these things are extreme views that often are not true.

  3. I liked this article and thought you made some good points, however, you had some logical fallacies that weakend your argument. First of all you have a few red hearings that lead readers attention away from the argument and to another topic that is not relevant. The first example of this is in the 3rd paragraph when you mention how much Jerry Brown spend on his apartment. How much he spends on his home is not relevant to how he would run this state. This same thing happens in the last paragraph when you mention how much Meg Whiteman has spent on her campaign. This is once again distracting readers from the main issues at hand.Plus you follow this up with a non sequitur because her"slick ads" doesn’t necessarily mean she has a "lack of substantive policy." Another logical fallacy I spotted was your polarization of CEOs and politicians. Its not right to say all CEOs care about is money and all politicians care about is "real people and real lives." Both of these things are extreme views that often are not true.

  4. I think that throughout this article, the author relies heavily on logical fallacies to “prove” his argument. He uses polarization in the first paragraph by referring to those who support the Tea Party as “radical and outrageous.” He then uses rationalization in the fourth paragraph when he says, “Despite Meg Whitman’s ads blaming Brown for the problems in Oakland at this time, the truth of the matter is that Brown threw himself into a difficult situation, with Oakland’s schools already in disarray, an escalating crime rate, and an evaporating tax base.” In the sixth paragraph, the author uses both a non sequitur, by saying that since Whitman grew eBay by cutting costs and outsourcing jobs, she will cut spending and public jobs as governor, and a straw man fallacy, by exaggerating and distorting the views of Whitman. While this is a relatively well written article, I think the logical fallacies substantially weaken the author’s argument and make it hard for the reader to support his position.

  5. As a fellow Californian this article approaches a topic that will ultimately affect me as a citizen and I find that the author does a very good job approaching the topic however his work is full of logical fallacies. The author fills some of his argument with red herrings when he talks of Jerry Brown’s living habits and how little money he spends on his campaign compared to Meg Whitman. However all that does is feed the reader information that really has no bearing on our voting unless you vote based on their living conditions. He then approaches Meg Whitman by saying she cut jobs and costs with eBay, while cutting public jobs and spending if she is governor. This straw man takes Whitman and singles her out and distorts her views in a way that the writer wants the reader to think. Then the author tries to argue the morals of a CEO with that of a politician stating that politicians care about people and lives while all CEO’s live for is the money. This is a clear polarization stating that if Meg Whitman receives office she will simply be in it for the money and not the needs of the people.

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