Local, alternative perspective. Insightful stories for the Santa Clara Valley.


Campaign 2016 has seen many unexpected and unusual scenarios; whereas, it could well be a long race all the way through the primaries and into to the national conventions.  We are approaching the next big states of New York (April 19th, 291 votes) and Pennsylvania (April 26th, 210 votes), so there’s a lot at stake this month.  But, if that doesn’t quite determine things, then it carries on to the west and namely the behemoth known as California, which is scheduled for June 7th with a whopping 548 votes.

As Los Angeles Times states: “The prospect that the California primary could be a deciding factor is fueling a big increase in voter registration. More than 600,000 Californians have gone online to register to vote or update their registration in just the last three months; 10,000 people in one day. And those are just the voters who have used the state’s online registration system; state officials haven’t yet tallied the paper registrations that have been submitted.”

Just this last week, it’s been a surprise to learn that Republican Donald Trump suddenly canceled his trip to visit California, including an appearance at Rancho Palos Verdes as of April 8th.  KTLA reported that “The shift comes as Trump and his senior advisors are trying to regroup amid signs that fundamental weaknesses in his campaign organization are hampering his effort to win the 1,237 delegates required to clinch the nomination without a convention floor fight.”
Donald Trump Cancels California Trip, Including Friday Appearance in Rancho Palos Verdes

Nevertheless, Democrats are speculating on California, where Bernie Sanders’ following is apparently surging, relatively to Hillary Clintons’.  And this is a strong Democratic state, although it’s had a number of popular Republican governors, including Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

With the California primary about two months away, people are still watching the scenarios play out; but, there’s growing interest.  Will California’s primary become a major boon for the next presidential nominee, Democratic or Republican?

This above said Los Angeles Times editorial suggests: “The big question is whether elections officials in the state’s 58 counties are prepared to handle a potentially record-breaking turnout.”  In other words, can it become a mess, similar to Arizona?

Myself, I’m a Californian, with ties to Arizona. Despite recent struggles in this state, I think California is far more progressive than Arizona, as well as that its government is far more efficient.  But, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be vigilant or aware of corruption.

In my own dealings with Arizona government, it can be a greater nuisance, compared to California.  To be fair, California is a much larger and more dynamic state.  It’s more capable in a number of ways. But, frankly, Arizona is comparatively lagging, sometimes (dare I say) even seemingly backward to California in many aspects.  That’s aside from Arizona’s possible comparison to other like-sized and smaller states.

Take for example California’s extensive online government services from local, county and state; whereas Arizona often lacks that in a number of areas.  Not every state empowers its government offices as well as California, despite that this state has indeed had budget controversies in the recent past, including state employee furloughs and a hotly controversial “pension reform” movement.

As the LA Times points out, “This week [Secretary of State of California] Padilla sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislative leaders making a pitch for $32 million in one-time funding to help his office and local officials manage the workload…

“He’s right to be concerned after high participation and poor management in Arizona and other states forced people to wait in line for hours to cast primary ballots.”

In other words, so far as it can be seen, California doesn’t plan on letting this “fall between the cracks”.

Here in California, take a look at everything from voter registration to the payment of business taxes, property taxes and even the filing and procurement of official records, (e.g., birth, death and business filings). Then look at Arizona.

An inefficient government is less open and transparent, making it harder to apply for licenses, pay fees, and taxes, find records, review and procure them, as well as receive officiated notes thereof.  A competent government is as much about budgeting, as it is about competent leadership, organization, and integrity.

Imagine if even registering or renewing a drivers license at the DMV can become a hassle?  That leads to infringement upon other privileges and rights.  California is more efficient and “progressive” than most states in those regards.

Between California, Arizona and other states, what makes California dynamic is that it seems to realize that there can often be a marked difference between civil needs (everyday residents) versus business and trade.  California does work harder in both those regards.

You really notice the difference in interstate transactions, such as between California and Arizona, which is aside from relations between these U.S. states and those of Mexico (e.g. Baja California, Chihuahua, etc.).

Consider Arizona’s controversial upset in September 2010, when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer canceled the Border Governors Conference , relating to the passage of the Arizona SB 1070 anti-illegal immigration law.  California has worked progressively to uphold those relations and conferences, unlike Governor Brewer and the state of Arizona.

And that’s despite all the trade that comes from the Nogales gateway at Mexico and Arizona, then up the highway to California. Nogales is still divided in half, with a wall between the two nations.

Nogales has been, as well as remains, a divided city. It’s divided in half like Berlin of past.  Indeed, it’s one of a few cities like that of Belfast, BethlehemJerusalem and São Paulo….  Nogales, Arizona is still divided from Nogales, Sonora (Mexico), even though it shares geography, language, cultural heritage, trade relations, etc.   It’s been that way for so long, that it’s mostly taken for granted.  Its history is seemingly unfamiliar, as well as its situation assumed, unquestioned and neglected.

Nogales was divided as a result of the Mexican Revolution, occurring sometime between 1913 and 1915. Battles occurred in the city along the border when in 1918 violence brought about the building of the first permanent border wall.  Previously, there was an unobstructed boundary line on International Street.  A trade route still leads through the city and across the border, but…

It’s a lasting reminder that shows how things operate down there in Arizona, as well as at the border between the United States and Mexico.  It symbolizes both  the economic and social inequality, as much as how we view citizenship and worldly human rights, not just as Americans, but as citizens of the world.

Bernie Sanders visited Nogales back in March 2016 saying:

“As I have traveled around this country and talked to immigrant families, and particularly Latino immigrant families, I am struck by the fear and sadness that grips so many of them,”

Sanders said following the visit. “Fathers or mothers or both sent out of the country having to leave their minor children with relatives or guardians here in the United States. A U.S. service member whose spouse was deported. A 12-year-old boy who longs to be reunited with his mother. This human suffering has got to end. That is why I am here today.”


California has historically worked towards reform in all these regards, largely because of writers and figures like Jack London, John Steinbeck, and Cesar Chavez, all of them having described the plight of immigrants, laborers and namely agricultural workers.  Those stories are now part of California history and culture.

But, that seemingly hasn’t impacted Arizona in the same manner, even though Chavez was born there in Arizona and moved to San Jose, California (much like my own grandmother).

I would think that California’s current governor, the non-consecutive four-term senior statesman, Jerry Brown, is more of a progressive like Bernie Sanders.  Brown, like Sanders, has been in several political offices, from various levels of governance.  Brown’s offices have included: Mayor of Oakland; California’s Secretary of State and Attorney General; plus one-time chairman of the California Democratic Party.

If you recall, perhaps, campaign fundraising reform began statewide in California with Jerry Brown as early as 1988, but then went national through 1992 with his own Presidential run; whereas, that’s a long ago precursor to Bernie Sanders making it an integral part of his own 2016 campaign this year.

Brown returned from abroad in 1988 to become chairman of the California Democratic Party. He greatly expanded the party’s donor base, increased its funds as well as grassroots organizing and get out the vote drives. Although, he was criticized for not spending enough money on television advertisements.

Even back then, Brown had a different philosophy; so, when push came to shove, he had become a leading figure highlighting the differences between mainstream (establishment) and progressive Democrats.

From 1990 to 1991, Brown abandoned his race for the Senate seat held by Alan Cranston. His intention was to focus on the 1992 presidential election instead.

So, that year, Jerry Brown became the arch nemesis of Bill Clinton, namely. As I remember it back then, the party pushed around Jerry Brown in an even more nasty way then they’re doing with Bernie Sanders now.

Jerry Brown was a leading grassroots, progressive, as well as that he set up an earlier program that was based on a toll-free telephone contribution line. Callers could make grassroots pledges by phone or mail money to his campaign, similar to what Sanders is doing now over the Internet.  Brown went the alternate route, avoiding big-money political contributions, lobbies and so on.  And that was well before the age of Super PACs, etc., as we have now.

Indeed, if you recall Ralph Nader, he built on that same fundraising idea as Jerry Brown, back in 1992.

Jerry Brown also had to fight for debates with the Democratic National Committee and namely Bill Clinton, wherein it often became confrontational and ugly. There was a lot of animosity between the two campaigns. Do some research and look up many of the accusations made at that time by Brown and Nader against Bill and Hillary Clinton. You will realize what’s in circulation now is more or less the same as what was said back then. Recorded video and audio debates, interviews and so on (also available online) reveal all that, as much as does the print.

Nowadays, we may overlook aspects of Ralph Nader’s influence.  Primarily, that’s because we think of his second wave against the Clinton legacy, such as with repeated campaigns through the 1990s.  It ultimately lleadsto the year 2000 election upset, blaming Nader for the narrow margin of Bush v. Gore.  It’s been a smear on Nader since then.

But, Nader was on the presidential campaign scene as early as 1972, as a candidate of the New Party, a progressive split from the Democratic Party.

By 1992, in the campaign primaries with Clinton and Brown, Nader became a popular write-in candidate for the primaries; whereas, he apparently had an understanding with Jerry Brown. They seemingly shared information, tactics and even animosity against the Clintons.  Over the years, ever since, its become more discernible.

Since 1996, Nader has been associated with the Green Party, mostly criticizing the DNC from the outside.   Nader is now at age 82, still railing against the machine, as last heard.

Jerry Brown has remained a force in California politics, as well as an inspiring and central figure among progressive Democrats.  He sometimes continues to play with the idea of a national run, off and on again, even as late as 2016. But, ultimately, he said no to a Presidential run this year.  Brown is now age 78 and still going strong.

Jerry Brown has not come out with endorsement, but if I had to guess, I would assume he would be behind Sanders.  Could he possibly endorse the Clintons, after all this bad blood?  That would be unreal and quite shocking…. If maybe he’s become somewhat cordial to the Clintons since then?

Brown’s biggest issue of late is the progressive increase of the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Before that, Brown was invited to the Vatican.   Like Sanders is to speak before the Holy See, Brown went to address climate change and the drought crisis.  In present times, Brown and Sanders have these things in common.

That reminds us of Robert Reich, who is probably the most visible and outspoken supporter of Sanders, aside from labor and living wage issues, etc.  Ironically, Reich comes from the former Bill Clinton administration.  He was United States Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997.  Earlier, he served in the administrations of Presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.  Now, Reich is professor, and author; as well as currently Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley.

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This entry was posted on Sunday 10 April 2016 by in Opinion & Editorial and tagged , , , , , .


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