Wed, Jul

Does California Need a Monarch?


QUEEN OF STATE - OK, I may be catching royal wedding fever, but this damn question keeps sneaking into my mind.
Would California be better off with its own king or queen?

Crazy to ask, but I can't stop thinking about it, perhaps because the nuptials of William and Kate are already the number one story on the LA local news.

Sure, it ain't going to happen, but would it be so bad?

One big problem that underlies many of our California maladies is that we have no sense of our own history. Californians and their leaders move fast. They come and go. And yes, once in a while, they return (see Brown, Jerry). But for the most part, we govern, and mis-govern ourselves.

The big decisions in California have had little to do with memorable individuals or leaders-and everything to do with decisions on constitutional amendments or initiatives that we ourselves made. Which may be one reason why we forget the damage we ourselves have done, almost as soon as we have done.

A royal family provides stability, and a connection to our history and our past. Another benefit: constitutional monarchies separate the state and the government. Right now, the governor must handle all the ceremonial duties - and the governing of the state. Governance alone is a huge job, perhaps too big. Might be nice for Jerry Brown to be able to hand those duties off to someone else?

Now that I think of it, Gov. Brown already has done this - witness the rise to prominence of his dog, Sutter Brown.

Where would we find a king or queen? Surely, a certain element would demand their favorite Kardashian. But a better approach might be to let the world's greatest monarch, King Juan Carlos of Spain, who oversaw his country's transition from dictatorship into democracy, to establish a royal line for us. Spain was our historic mother country after all.

Don't think California would accept a royal monarch from someplace else? Look at how we embraced Schwarzenegger at first. Or how the Republicans kowtow to King Grover. Or how all the newspapers and reform types are kissing up to the billionaire Nicolas Berggruen.

And who knows? Maybe a California queen would have a few thoughts on the budget.

(Joe Mathews is a journalist and Irvine senior fellow at the New America Foundation, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010) This article was posted first at foxandhoundsdaily.com)    -cw

Vol 9 Issue 34
Pub: Apr 29, 2011

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