Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Gov. Brown's inaugural speech highlights importance of the people's trust in government

Much of the commentary about Governor Jerry Brown's inaugural speech focused on the heavy themes of our state's budget crisis, and that's not so surprising given the yawning deficit our state faces.  But what I noticed, and appreciated, is how Governor Brown continues to focus on the importance of the public's trust in a democratic system.

In his 1975 address, he remarked early on in his speech about the fact that less than half of the Californians who could vote in the election did so, and that "our first order of business is to regain the trust and confidence of the people we serve."

Yesterday he spoke again of how important it is the public have trust in the government.  After describing the inability of Democrats and Republicans to agree on a path forward on the state's budget deficit, he suggested that this is perhaps "the reason why the public holds the state government in such low esteem.  And that’s a profound problem, not just for those of us who are elected, but for our whole system of self-government. Without the trust of the people, politics degenerates into mere spectacle; and democracy declines, leaving demagoguery and cynicism to fill the void."

Of course solving the state's budget problems is the biggest crisis on the governor's plate, but the need for improvements in the ways Californians participate in elections and government need attention as well.

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