writes a piece on the rise and coming fall of California that is both moving and devastating. The article is part book review and part personal reflection. Rubin pays special attention to California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It
by Joe Mathews and Mark Paul, and she tells her own story of moving to California as a child and, then, of her decision (in 2005) to re-locate. But even more than book review or reminiscence, Rubin's is a cautionary tale for populists and reformers of every political stripe. She cites many examples, but perhaps the best of these are the stories of the unintended consequences of Proposition 13 and term limits. A good test for the seriousness of any Tea Party candidate or supporter going forward might be to question their understanding of the perils of reform Rubin so wisely addresses in this article. For Rubin hints at something the Founders understood well: people generally tend to get the kind of government they deserve. Put another way (and to borrow from Jefferson), "though the will of
the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful,
must be reasonable."
It is popular sport in California to pin blame for our woes on one or another group of special interests or on one or another political party or politician. In the end, however, the fact remains that it comes down to the people of California. They pushed for reforms that made it less and less likely that California's majorities would be reasonable and now we find ourselves in a situation where even as we try to dig out, we dig deeper--using, as we are, the same broken (and progressive) shovels and instruction manuals that got us into this hole. The question for California needs to be less about how we arrange things to make it easier for a majority prevail and less about trying to keep majorities in check with artificial and easily surmounted barriers (i.e., term limits) than it is about how it is we can do the hard work of making the majority of Californians reasonable and therefore worthy of the self-government that is their right. The same ought to hold true in the rest of the country. Tea Partiers should look at the example of California and be very suspicious of people who market quick fixes to governmental woes by proposing to make government even more reflective of the will of the majority. Whether they mean to make government more reflective of popular will or make their own will more popular is, most often, unclear. But one thing that appears to be very clear is that the actual results of these bulldozing mechanisms seem rarely to live up to the golden promises.