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The Political Mind of Jerry Brown


KQED Public Media for Northern CA

KQED Public Media for Northern CA


United States




KQED Public Media for Northern CA




BONUS: Jerry Brown on the 2020 Election, Education Policy and His Next Portrait (LIVE in San Francisco)

Jerry Brown shares his thoughts on the 2020 election, his own presidential campaigns, efforts to reform his state education policies and more with KQED’s Scott Shafer. Recorded at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco on Jan. 13, 2020.


The Thrust

Unlike his first time in the governor’s office, Jerry Brown uses ballot initiatives to create a forward-moving agenda; leading California off a fiscal cliff and enacting reforms on criminal justice and water. And when Donald Trump wins the presidency, Brown rejects the label of the California “resistance” in favor of pushing ahead with progressive policy.


Think for Myself

In his runs for attorney general and governor, Brown ignores the conventional wisdom of political consultants; relying instead on his own political mind and small team. Back in the governor's office, Brown blocks out criticism from his own party and carries out painful budget cuts in the face of a massive deficit.


Direct Action

Brown takes office as mayor of Oakland in 1999, with the goals of improving development, public safety, and schools. He learns that solving the city’s issues will take direct action: negotiating with neighbors, riding along with cops, and walking the hallways of the city’s schools. But critics say getting closer to the problems didn’t remove Brown’s blind spots.


Holy Water

After six years in the political "wilderness," Jerry Brown returns to politics in the early 1990’s, fighting against the influence of money and swearing off big contributions. But by the end of his career, he questions demands for more transparency and the rejection of certain donations, returning to an old saying of his father’s: “you can’t sprinkle holy water on campaign money."


The Eye

When a tax revolt leads to the passage of Proposition 13, California Democrats are shell-shocked, while Jerry Brown sees a political opening. But in his second term as governor, Brown’s political eye begins to fail him; in a disastrous run for president, a bungled response to an agricultural crisis, and a losing Senate campaign that leaves him out of politics.


But for Me

Brown takes office in 1975, with a guiding vision: what can I do that would not be done, but for me? That means taking on issues that had previously been unaddressed, like collective bargaining rights for California’s farmworkers, and bringing new faces and ideas into state government. And when Brown thinks he has used his gubernatorial power to the fullest, he turns his attention to the highest office in the land. But along the way, his go-it-alone approach ruffles more than a few feathers.


Ins and Outs

Jerry Brown’s political ambitions could not have come from less humble beginnings. A conversation overheard in the governor’s mansion sparks his political interest, and his father’s crushing defeat to Ronald Reagan illuminates the guiding principle for his political rise: politics is a struggle between those in and out of power. Brown’s weapon of choice against the ins? Political reform.


The Novice

Before Jerry Brown was a political chessmaster, he was a political novice. He grows up in a world apart from the political rise of his father, Governor Pat Brown, and enters the Jesuit novitiate to study for the priesthood. But in 1960, he gives his father some political advice that nearly derails Pat’s career. In the process, Brown learns that the world of politics is very different from the world of ideas.


Introducing The Political Mind of Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown often complains that no one comes to him for political advice. So we came knocking, and we’re glad we did. Across more than forty hours of exclusive interviews, Brown shares his lessons on politics and government gleaned from his five decades in the arena.