Friday, April 29, 2005

The Blogging Mayor

I recently discovered Jerry Brown's blog. Now I must say first off that Jerry is the reason I'm a democrat. I grew up in Sacramento, when personal interaction with the governor was actually possible. My parents were school teachers, and every politician likes a school based photo op. I met Reagan and his Lt. Governor Reineke (I have no idea if that's spelled right) because Reineke's kids went to the middle school where my dad taught P.E. Our church also sponsored a couple of rallies during the 72 presidential campaign, where I got to shake hands with sergeant Shriver and George McGovern (I often wonder, thinking about those rallies, where Hunter S Thompson was standing at the time).

Jerry was different. We didn't meet him at a photo op. He came into a Chinese restaurant where we ate all the time. He really did live across the street from the capital, drive himself around in his own car, and walk to work. Most days after work he would walk down to Frank Fat's for happy hour. Here was a guy, a Jesuit educated practicing Catholic who studied Zen Buddhism, whose father had been governor, who was governor himself, and he was a guy. Plain and simple. And, of course, all young men of my generation took note and were impressed by the fact that he was dating Linda Rondstadt. All of us felt a certain affinity for the governor in that regard, since we all had relationships with miss Rondstadt of our own--or at least with the poster of her that all of us had hanging on our bedroom walls. My link to Jerry got closer when my father re-married, and maybe a year later Jerry appointed my step grandfather, whom I both loved and admired, to the UC board of regents--but that never actually registered with me till years later. I last met Jerry when he was running for President in 92 and I helped out with a rally for him in Sac-town. He was still great, still a real guy, and when he talked about things like social justice and dignity and security you knew they were not just words or catch phrases to him. He's the guy, there's no other way to put it.

Anyway, the reason I'm a democrat and not an independent is because of Jerry. After the 1980 election, when I was still too young to vote, and when like a lot of young people I had been inspired by the candidacy of John Anderson, I was originally determined to be an independent (even though in California you had to have some party affiliation to register). But I realized that if I didn't register as a democrat I wouldn't be able to vote for Jerry in the primary when he ran for Senate. As it ruined out, coming of age in Cali under the administration of George Dukmajian, and then under Pete Wilson, it was not hard to remain a democrat. Those two vile excuses for public servants made it clear to me who the good guys were.

But the issue here is Jerry's blog. Jerry has always been one of the most forward thinking politicians. The "Governor Moonbeam" appellation pinned on him by My Royko (I'll never forgive Royko for that) referred to his ideas about investing in satellites and telecommunications back when people thought that stuff was all science fiction. That he would be one of the earlier politicians to launch a blog is unsurprising. It is great reading too--not just the stuff he writes about being mayor, but also the comments he gets. Some are fawning, some are conservative vitriol, and a lot are "Hey, Mr. Mayor, when you gonna fix the pot-hole" stuff. I love it. Jerry is still my guy (even though I'm more of a San Francisco then and Oakland booster--and hell, I live in Brooklyn ATM--and I was a big fan of the other mayor Brown as well, the guy who held us democrats together during the dark years of Dukmajain/Wilson). Here's Jerry once again interacting with regular people, only through a new medium. He writes his own posts and you get the impression that he reads all the comments. It is local politics expanded through cyberspace, and it shows how a great statesman can communicate with the people, and also that the old saying "all politics is local" is really true. Read it. It's worth a look.


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