The election of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California still leaves one incredulous. How was such an extraordinary development possible—the replacement of a recently re-elected Governor by a political novice, albeit a well-known one? Just published, The California Republic explains how this came to be. My co-editor, Professor Brian Janiskee, and I recruited eminent authorities who explained the theory of recall and other California constitutional peculiarities. Our 388-page book also covers prominent California political personalities, current politics, and contemporary policy issues, including taxes, civil rights, and education.
It is often argued that what happens in California, politically or culturally, shapes America's and the world's future. We contend that California politics has developed in ways unique to the Golden State, from its founding during the Gold Rush and Antebellum days, through the tax revolt of Proposition 13 and the recall of Governor Davis. Nevertheless, the Progressivism we see at work in our study of California does have national implications, which our distinguished contributors are quick to point out.
The contributors to the volume range from scholars to public policy activists. We read, among others, preeminent California political journalist Dan Walters on the legislature, anti-racial preferences leader Ward Connerly on civil rights, farmer and military historian Victor Davis Hanson on agriculture, and Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal on the tax revolt.
In the section on statesmanship, political commentator Jack Pitney offers a study of Richard Nixon, while noted Ronald Reagan biographer Steven Hayward presents a study of the role of Reagan in transforming California politics. Scot Zentner recalls the significance of the inventor of the recall—Governor and Senator Hiram Johnson. Distinguished constitutional historians Herman Belz, Gordon Lloyd, Ralph Rossum, and Edward Erler present elaborate discussions of the development of California constitutional history—how its history and past politics lead to its present, fascinating and often frustrating policies.
Among the Claremont Institute scholars represented in this volume are Institute President Brian Kennedy on the governor's office, John Marini on the films of John Ford and Sam Peckinpah, Larry Peterman on education, Daniel Palm on firearms regulation, Erler on the initiative and referendum, and Janiskee on local government. Professor Richard Reeb contributes essays on the 2002 elections and the media, California historian Stephen Schwartz reflects on the state's radical past, professor Ric Williams notes the peculiar significance of water policy, and attorney Harold Johnson synthesizes his reflections on the courts.
Brian Janiskee and I take pleasure in distinguished scholar and Claremont Review of Books editor Charles Kesler's praise of our work: "The most interesting book on California politics in decades, and the only volume that weaves together the state's constitutional origins and development with discerning accounts of its major political figures and contemporary political issues." Ken Grubbs, Jr., director of the National Journalism Center and former Orange County Register editorial writer, adds that The California Republic is "critical to your understanding of a perplexing and wonderful land."