It's not for nothing that most Ohioans (and much of the rest of the country) are prone to joke that California is the land of "fruits and nuts." Yes, we do grow 'em out here; both literally and figuratively. The typical Californian response to such insults, however, has been to brush them off as a kind of jealousy. (Call me when you're snowed in this winter and I'm out picking oranges in my backyard paradise or surfing at the beach . . .) There's been a kind of amazing will--not to power, exactly, but more to seek out golden dreams--and that has always pushed this state to the forefront of the American imagination. It's also not for nothing that California is called the "golden state" . . . and it's not only because of our beautiful sunsets or the 1849 gold rush. The optimism that has driven us is characteristically American. Inspiring. Energizing. Youthful. Oh . . . and, sometimes, terribly naive.
Our own Bill Voegeli
(like me, a California transplant . . . though that hardly distinguishes us out here) gives this buoyant approach to California's current prospects a sober and thoughtful assessment in the most recent edition of The City Journal.
He, like many other observers of our troubles, does not see many reasons for optimism. Time
magazine, however, clings to the hopes and wishes of a former era without, apparently, grasping that hope has to be backed by effort. A wish is not a thought. Hope is not a plan. In ignoring the facts before us, California may be more than an object lesson in what happens when a state allows hope to engulf it in the place of effort. It may be--as it always has been--an early indicator of where we are heading as a nation.
Let us do more than hope not. As Winston Churchill famously said at the close of his masterful work The Gathering Storm
, "Facts are better than dreams."