Friday, January 12, 2007

Schwarzenegger's New Deal

As Jennifer Nelson points out in the January 12, 2007, SF Chronicle (read her op-ed piece) , Arnold Schwarzenegger has emerged as California's first "New Deal" governor arguably since Pat Brown (1959-1967). Nelson, an aide to Republican governors Deukmejian (1983-1991) and Wilson (1991-1999), identifies the New Deal as the core values of liberal Democrats. In a different, but related sense, political scientists and historians think of the New Deal as a broad template for governing industrialized societies that emphasized collective but not necessarily state controlled methods of coordination including unionization, insurance, and access to scientific education and information. It is this kind of New Deal that California under Governors like Earl Warren, a Republican (1943-1953), and Pat Brown a Democrat, became the leading state version of; with its world leading public university system, its major investments in water and energy control, and its ambitious treatment oriented prison and parole system. That govenance model was largely abandoned, by governors to the right and left, including Ronald Reagan (1967-1975), Jerry Brown (1975-1983), George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson. Many questions hang over Schwarzenegger's effort to revive this (a strategy perhaps predictable not only from his Kennedy marriage but from his professed admiration for Richard Nixon, our last New Deal president in many respects). One which I will blog further about this month is whether the vastly swollen size of California's penal system, and its culture shift away from ambitious treatment oriented goals and towards racialized warehousing, presents a fundamental obstacle both fiscally and in terms of the broad constellation of interests, practices, and sensibilities tied to this carceral behemoth (see my analysis of mass imprisonment in Governing through Crime, chapter 5).


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