The Washington Post is speculating that California Governor Jerry Brown might challenge Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party nomination for president in 2016. We all know his weaknesses: job-crushing regulations that have kept California’s economy from taking off; an advanced age (he’ll be 78 in Nov. 2016); and Brown’s obsession with what Republican gubernatorial challenger Neel Kashkari rightly calls the “crazy train.”
Yet here are 5 reasons Brown would be a better candidate.
1. Strong executive experience. Brown is running for a fourth term as governor and has a long track record in executive office. That record may have its weaknesses, but it is more substantial than anything Hillary has done. Her tenure as Secretary of State is the closest she’s come–but she was appointed by Obama, who set her on a disastrous foreign policy path, and she filled her four years in office with largely meaningless voyages.
2. Support for fracking. Brown has broken with the Democratic Party base in a way that Clinton can never quite bring herself to do. One of the more important recent examples of that is his support for fracking, which has the potential to bring California thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in revenue. Not that he’s making it easy to do, mind you–but he hasn’t closed the door to fossil fuel development, and is standing up to the left.
3. Balancing a budget. Sure, the California budget is only “balanced” in theory, and the state is still saddled with massive debts that Brown has done little to address. But he deserves credit for pulling his party somewhat into line to accept modest cuts. And agree or disagree, he did the hard work of selling a tax increase to voters. Clinton, by contrast, served in the most profligate government in the history of the world, without protest.
4. Support for a flat tax. OK, it was a long time ago when Brown ran for president on a flat tax–and was defeated soundly by Bill Clinton. Still, it is a fantastic idea, at least as a basis for tax reform going forward. The U.S. has the world’s highest corporate taxes, and the Obama administration’s idea of stopping the flight of companies overseas is to exhort them to show “economic patriotism.” Brown at least has (or had) a better idea.
5. He’s the real 1990s throwback. There’s plenty of 1990s nostalgia in Clinton-mania. Yet Clinton herself is a creature of the 1960s, not the 1990s, and relies on the politics of personality to carry her message. Brown may be known as “Governor Moonbeam,” but his persona as of late is of a no-nonsense, straight-talking, cards-on-the-table guy with nothing to lose. He’s a Gen X candidate in hippie disguise–a better past to look forward to.