Prop Zero
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Could Political Civil War Bring Constitutional Reform?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Fascinating exchange at the end of Monday's press conference in Sacramento between two of the oldest guys in the room: Gov. Jerry Brown and Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters.

    The press conference had been predictable, with Brown and various allies warning of various horrors that await California if voters aren't given the opportunity to vote on small, temporary tax increases on sales, income and vehicles.

    Brown trotted out his line about how the failure of his temporary tax plan could unleash a "war of all against all" -- a 2012 ballot initiative battle with left, center, and right using their scariest political weapons against each other.

    Walters, the columnist, challenged the premise.

    Sometimes war can be healthy politically, he suggested.

    Civil war, Walters noted, gave Americans the republic they enjoy today.

    The challenge seemed to soften, Brown, who for months has stuck to his plan and dismissed talk of a Plan B (or a different approach that involves broad fiscal and constituitonal reform, which has been a frequent argument of this blog).

    This time, the governor didn't respond with his talking points -- he acknowledged Walters' point.

    Political war "may result in a constitutional convention. You never know."

    For those of us who don't think the existing system is workable, Brown's mention of a constitutional convention -- which would be one forum for devising the new governing system Calfiornia needs -- made the heart skip a beat.

    It also suggested that behind the months of bluffing, Brown may actually have a Plan B.