Jerry Brown gives rural Californians the middle finger

Now that he's heading out of office, California's Gov. Jerry Brown has let his hair down as to what he really thinks of people who don't live on California's coast.

Here's an exchange reported between Brown and MSNBC's Chuck Todd, as reported by the Washington Free Beacon:

"You won your gas tax fight, but rural Californians didn't like it," Todd said.

"No, they don't.  They don't like a lot of things.  They voted against housing bonds, they voted for the Republican Cox who didn't even make 40 percent," Brown said, referring to his reelection's vote margin.

He then went on to divide residents of his own state into the categories of "red" and "blue," siding with the wealthier, more Democratic residents on the coast, who have a majority and want to raise taxes on rural Californians.

"There is the same divide in California as in America.  The red is different than the blue, and it is associated definitely with rural areas," he said.

He certainly likes to kick them when they're down now that he won't have to face them at the polls anymore.

It's particularly creepy because it skirts the facts of the matter: that rural voter are suffering from Brown's gas tax, and his only response to that is his lip-curling contempt for their sufferings.  Those rural voters are hardest hit by Brown's gas tax, given that they must drive long distances and pay for gas used in farm machinery, which hurts their economic interests disproportionately.  As for the gas tax, well, it's used to put in bike paths and construct more highways for the benefit of urban voters.  The detested tax was put up for a vote in the midterms, and sure enough, it lost, based on, you guessed it, ballot-harvesting (pre-vote polls showed it would win).

Brown's explanation of their anger is amazingly contemptuous: Brown cites the fact that urban and coastal voters far are more numerous than rural voters, and his logic suggests that because the urban voter numbers are bigger, they must be better.  All in for tyranny of the majority, it seems.  Majority Uber Alles, is that it?  He could put some left-wing lawyers out of business on that logic if he really believed it.  But in Brown's mind, it applies just to rural voters.

It's the kind of statement that recalls the "Rockefeller Salute" given by Nelson Rockefeller, who on his political exit famously extended his middle finger to hecklers.  Since he and his kind were known as "Rockefeller Republicans," that's pretty much all that's remembered of his political legacy.

Brown is far more contemptuous of voters than Rockefeller ever was, maybe the result of his having grown rich in office, contrary to his Mister Austerity reputation from years ago.

Now he's heading off to Colusa to live on a bucolic boutique ranch, what with the romance of nature and all (Marie Antoinette was all into that, too, with her "playing shepherd" thing), and good luck to him when his barn catches fire, his horses get out, his horses need evacuation from a fire, or his water tank springs a leak.  Rural people survive by helping each other.  I'd love to be a fly on the wall when Jerry Brown needs some ranch help from his neighbors some fine day.  

As for the rest of us, the main thing his latest insult reminds us all of is that he won't be missed.

Image credit: Freedom to Marry via Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0.

If you experience technical problems, please write to