• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

California is full of myths and legends, but its political system shouldn’t be. In this refreshingly critical take, Edgar Kaskla brings an analysis of power—how it is distributed, how it is used, and to what end—to bear on California’s political system and the many troubling issues it currently faces. Starting from the premise that California is in deep crisis politically, economically, culturally, and environmentally, Kaskla traces the state’s economic and political development as a process controlled by and for the elite, be they land barons, the Hollywood glitterati, or Silicon Valley execs.Kaskla focuses on what he calls growth machine politics—elites and their land use as promoters of development and redevelopment—to show students how the gap between the rich and poor in California continues to widen. As minority communities increase in size, as the cost of campaigning in the state balloons, and as the state’s debt crisis mounts, the socio-economic and cultural issues at play in California add up to a real threat to democratic governance. Kaskla clearly outlines how each of the state’s institutions are organized, but also shows how they are affected—indeed distorted—by a host of serious economic and social inequalities. Not one to mince words, Kaskla is in places irreverent, but his text is thoroughly researched and well argued, never crossing the line into the polemical. Tables, figures, maps, and lists for further reading help reinforce the book’s substantive points and critical approach, and a host of student and instructor ancillaries help with study, review, and preparation.

California's Governor and Challenges to the Plural Executive System: Gubernatorial Competence and Political Personality
California's governor and challenges to the plural executive system: Gubernatorial competence and political personality

Because of California's size and economic heft, the governor of the state is a political leader of national importance. Ironically, recent governors have been elected on their reputations as being competent managers of government rather than as leaders with strong personalities who might draw political attention to themselves. This was true of Gray Davis, whose name was entirely appropriate, and the two men who preceded him, Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian.

Arnold Schwarzenegger seems to fall outside the more recent pattern, for everything about Schwarzenegger's campaign and his years in office have accentuated his Hollywoodness and over-the-top personality. Beyond ...

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