Yesterday, I attended the sober inaugural ceremony that installed Jerry Brown as the 39th Governor of the state of California. Attending with me was Sonoma Mayor Laurie Gallian. We witnessed an unusual inaugural event. No fanfare, no elegant reception, no frills.
Focusing on the challenges that face us but assuring us that we have what it takes to meet these difficulties, Governor Brown articulated a clear, honest and mature message. Maybe because Brown knows better than most politicians how government works (or doesn't), he is prepared to challenge partisans and ideologues.
In 1991, I worked on Jerry Brown's presidential campaign and became a delegate for him at the Democratic National Convention in New York in 1992. What I learned working on that campaign and chairing the Marin County chapter has influenced much of my work with Praxis. But, perhaps the greater learning came from working directly with Jerry after that campaign. Scheduling his speaking engagements and radio show guests was boot camp for launching Praxis Peace Institute. What I learned about Jerry during that time gives me hope for the next eight years. Jerry is a visionary but he is also a pragmatist. He is open to new ideas but is not interested in ones that are not thought out and well-researched.
Being Governor again after many years is both deja vu and opportunity. Jerry is focused on the budget but noted the importance of funding our public schools. He stressed loyalty to California above party politics. The maturing of Jerry Brown promises a no-nonsense style of governing. I think we will get both the visionary of his first two terms and the wisdom of his many years in elected offices. His wife, Anne, will be a great first lady. She is intelligent, strategic, and a real partner. Of course, humor is never far from Jerry's rhetoric. After introducing his 99-year-old aunt, he cautioned anyone planning to take his place as governor to note the longevity in his family.
I left the inauguration feeling short-changed because we didn't get a pumped-up rally that stressed hope, optimism, and the rainbow around the corner. (That, even after all the complaining about Obama's speeches that rarely lived up to the performance.) It wasn't until I got home that I realized we heard exactly what we needed to hear: a message that challenges us to take responsibility for where we are today, a message that challenges us to work for the good of all Californians, a message that honestly evaluated our situation and called for sacrifice. As Brown said:
"California was built by dreamers, doers and pioneers who led the world in innovation. California can be governed. Of that, I have no doubt. We can attract the creative minds and the doers who will produce the jobs in renewable energy, medical advances, new materials, better designs for living and learning; we can accomplish that."
Let's get started!
Check out the beginning of Governor Brown's inaugural speech:
For the entire ceremony, click here.