We often engage in the day-to-day combat of intracacies of the budget or campaign news here at Calitics. But we should never lose sight of the long-term questions. Is California governable? Does the erecting of procedural barriers to sensible governance in this state prefigure a political crisis for the rest of the nation? Can we build a movement for reforming this broken system and produce a model that allows majorities in the legislature to reflect the intended will of their constituents?
I’m pleased to announce that I have put together a great panel that will tackle all of these questions at the blogosphere’s signature event, Netroots Nation 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from August 13-15. On Saturday, August 15, at 3:00pm, we will discuss the California budget mess and its implications for the nation at large in a panel entitled California: How Process Creates Crisis.
California is the nation’s largest state, and is often seen as a bellweather for economic and social change. However, the peculiar dynamic of state government institutions has threatened that role, as the state has slipped into an almost perpetual crisis mode. Despite an overwhelming majority of progressive lawmakers in the state legislature, the two-thirds rule for passing a budget and tax increases, among other issues, handcuffs them and empowers a radical conservative minority. Thirty years of short-term fixes and failed leadership have only exacerbated the problem and put the state-and the nation-in real danger. As Paul Krugman recently said, “Years of neglect, followed by economic disaster-and with all reasonable responses blocked by a fanatical, irrational minority … This could be America next.” In this session, we will look at the reasons for California’s budget tangle, the larger implications for the progressive movement at large, and what some organizations are doing to change these outdated rules and take back state government for the people.
In addition to myself, the panel will feature Robert Cruickshank of Calitics and the Courage Campaign; Jean Ross of the California Budget Project; and Kai Stinchcombe, a candidate for State Assembly in AD-21 in 2010. There may be an additional special guest, which I will reveal later.
If you have not registered for Netroots Nation, you can do so at their website. If you have, please join us for a wide-ranging discussion on California, a kind of 75-minute blog post on the challenges ahead.