CA-Gov: Brown’s Canoe Theory is DLC Triangulation

John Wildermuth thinks Jerry Brown’s pretty much got the nomination wrapped up, and you can’t blame him for that.  So, he points to all of the random crap that much of the left won’t mind so much, but will scare the bejeezus out of the conservative base. Sure, nobody will be that surprised to hear the name Rose Bird, but I kind of doubt it will be determinative in either the primary or general election.

But what I find most striking about the column isn’t the “bulls-eye” stuff, it is a reminder of Brown’s “Canoe Theory.”

For years, Brown’s “canoe theory” of government has worked in California: “You paddle a little bit on the left, then you paddle a little bit on the right and you keep going straight down the middle.” He’s far from the only politician who’s tried to play to both ends of the political spectrum, but he’s one of the very few who has done it successfully over such a long career.

The crusading candidate for secretary of state in 1970 was very different from the pro-development, law-and-order Oakland mayoral hopeful of 1998, but both versions had something in common: they won. (Fox&Hounds-John Wildermuth)

I’m not going to judge here, I’m simply going to point this out. This is essentially the Joe Lieberman/Democratic Leadership Council triangulation theory. Nothing new here, or at least nothing that Jerry Brown’s nemesis, Bill Clinton, didn’t talk about endlessly in the late 80s and early 90s.

It’s one of the funny things about all of the “Governor Moonbeam” stuff. While he did play in some interesting spiritual realms in the 80s, politically he has pretty much been a creature of his times, sticking close to the conventional wisdom. See Proposition 13 for that.

But, when it comes down to it, Brown is a general election candidate, and knows how to close them out.  With Newsom out, he’s got a road to the old gig paved and decked out with a red carpet. Whether the red carpet remains clean is up to some other Democrats.

12 thoughts on “CA-Gov: Brown’s Canoe Theory is DLC Triangulation”

  1. The story about the canoe isn’t about how to avoid being progressive; it’s about how to be as progressive as possible, without spinning out and crashing into the shore, bringing progress to an end.  

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