CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO CALIFORNIA POLITICS
“It's 90 degrees in November, the full glory and perennial curse of Southern California on fierce display. Devil winds, hill-hopping infernos, smoked mansions, torched trailers, barren freeways, and brilliant sunsets lingering in low-hanging canopies of burnt dreams. Are we all crazy? Don't live here, says the wind, the trembling earth, the parched land whose natural inclination is to explode in flame every year about now. But we do. Don't build near the kindling, say the voices of common sense. But we do, for all the wrong reasons and all the known glories. Our winter snowfall is flakes of ash and flame retardant falling on ...view middle of the document...
It is both the most populous state and the most diverse; its people match its geology. In terms of economics, it is an international force in trade and commerce, higher education, scientific research, entertainment, and technology. However, the same features that drive its success also present a host of challenges; the abundance of opportunities are attended with challenges in energy production, environmental protection, elementary and secondary education, providing for the poor, general health, and the well-being of the population.
CALIFORNIA’S POLITICAL CULTURE
Political culture is the set of ideas and values Americans share about who should govern, for what ends, and by what means. California’s political culture is characterized by the settlement patterns that occurred during nineteenth- and twentieth-century migration. Political scientist Daniel Elazar recognized that while the United States shares a general political culture, three distinct subcultures can be identified. These cultures were established at the earliest founding of the nation and were distributed geographically with the migration of the founders and their progeny. The shared culture is characterized by the tension between viewing the political arena as a marketplace as opposed to a commonwealth. The typology of culture Elazar introduces reflects the sociocultural differences of immigrants settling in the states. The three subcultures identified are moralistic, individualistic, and traditionalistic. Each subculture has a unique value system that shapes the ways in which individuals view political competition, policy goals, and the roles of the citizen within the polity. According to the theories, the individualist sees the political system as a marketplace established for utilitarian purposes. As such, the role of government should be limited, as personal freedom is revered as the primary attribute of society. The role of the individual in politics is characterized by what the player will gain from participation. The quest for self-interest makes politics a dirty business. For this reason, corruption in government and politics is generally expected and accepted.
Much in contrast to the individualist, the moralistic culture sees the political arena as a commonwealth. For the moralist, politics is the search for the “good society.” Individual participation is not only encouraged, but expected, as it is the civic duty of every citizen in the advancement of society. Contrary to the individualist, the government is a positive instrument with the responsibility to promote the general welfare, rejecting the notion that politics is the forum for self-interest. For this reason, there is no room for corruption. The government takes an active role, allowing for intervention into the economic and social life of the community, in pursuit of the common good.
Finally, the traditionalist culture, very distinct from the other two, is characterized by an ambivalent attitude toward...