Ronald Reagan

Taped Announcement on Candidacy for California Governor

delivered 4 January 1966


[AUTHENTICITY CERTIFIED: Text version below transcribed directly from audio]

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen.

For the last six months, I've been traveling up and down the state, meeting as many of you as I could, answering questions...and asking a few. There isn't any secret as to why I've been doing this. I've said, as you've been told, that I'll be a candidate for public office once I've found the answers to a few questions myself -- mainly about my acceptability to you.

Who'd like to be governor isn't important.

Who the people would like to have as governor is very important.

This is a big state. It's been described as more like a nation than a state. I've used plane, train, and automobile in these last six months. I've been on a California street 8000 feet above sea level, and one a couple of hundred feet below sea level. I've thrown a snowball and watched water skiers all in the same day. And I haven't begun to cover the state.

Actually, I think you could spend a lifetime just seeing and getting to know California. Someone has said that "California isn't a's a way of life." Well, that's true -- and it's a good way. People have been coming to this place and to this way of life for a hundred years. They've come from every part of America and from a lot of other countries.

Today, some of us are native born Californians; some descended from those earliest immigrants; and some of us have only been Californians since this morning. Then, a lot of us fall somewhere in between. And even when we've been here 30 years, as I have, we still refer to ourselves as being from "someplace." We're from Illinois, or Iowa, Kansas, Ohio, New Jersey. But we're here to stay. And our children are native- born Californians. And California's problems are our problems.

Some of those problems have grown faster than the population, and in that we're number one in the nation. Now all of us are concerned that in our growth we don't destroy the very things that brought us here in the first place. It won't matter if the sky is big and bluer out here if you can't see it for smog. And all our elbow room and open space won't mean much if the unsolved problems are higher than the hills.

Cracks have appeared in our economy. The unemployment rate is almost 40% higher than the rest of the nation. And we lead the nation in bankruptcies and business failures. We've dropped from 6th to 13th among the states with regard to new industries locating here. There's no way to count the jobs that don't exist because they didn't come here. But we can count very easily the 800 jobs that disappeared in Palo Alto when an aircraft plant moved to the East Coast.

Ketchup bottles -- a pretty common place item. But when the Secretary of Labor and our own state government finished their experiments in reform among farm workers and cancelled out the Bracero Program, there were 28 million fewer of these manufactured in one plant in Oakland. And that meant layoffs for 200 employees. And because there's no assurance they'll quit their well-meant social tinkering before next harvest season, canning and packing companies are making plans to move south across the border -- and with them go jobs that will no longer be held by Californians.

From the capital in Sacramento, one answer is proposed. Schools, public buildings, and public parks are canvassed to see how many additional workers could be used doing chores, if money could be made available. The total is set at 50,000; and our chief executive goes to Washington, hand extended, asking for 250,000,000 dollars to solve our unemployment with this make-work project.

Well I don't think that's good enough for Californians. Jobs are wanted. Jobs are needed. Productive jobs. Jobs a man can be proud to do, knowing he's contributing to growth and prosperity, and that he has a chance to grow and advance in his work. Such jobs come from private industry -- and can be made possible by an administration in Sacramento that has faith in our free economy and will take steps to improve the business climate, so that California is once again attractive to industry.

Now let me make one thing plain: I don't challenge the sincerity of that administration, nor do I charge it with a lack of concern. I'm sure there's an earnest desire on the part of those in office to provide for the people's welfare.

But their approach to the solution of our problems reveals a basic disagreement in philosophy. They're dedicated to a belief in rule by administrative edict, with more and more control and regulation of the economy, and of our lives. Just recently, a report of the Commission on California State Government Organization and [Economy] admitted there's no way to count the boards, commissions, and bureaus in the executive branch. A legislative analyst made a partial count and listed 276 -- 53 appointed in the last few years.

Now, we're told that every increase in government is caused by increase in population. But government is increased four times as fast as population; and total state expenditures are up ten times as much. Budget deficits aren't met by sound fiscal changes, but by one-time windfalls, sweeping the problem under the rug with gimmicks: advancing the collection of corporate income tax one year, sales tax the next.

And now they ask for the worst gimmick of all: withholding of personal income tax. Now this is actually a one-time bundle of money for government at the time the the program started. But from then on the experience of those states where it's in force reveals it's a free ticket for future tax increases. In the meantime, in violation of a promise to the people, tens of millions of dollars of tideland oil revenues, supposedly earmarked for building our water project, have been siphoned off to balance the ever-growing budget deficits. This is extremely short-sighted, because this oil commodity is not a permanent source of income, but only results from the sale of an exhaustive natural resource.

At the same time, this is a betrayal, particularly of Californians in the northern part of our state. But we're told these oil revenues would off-set, dollar per dollar, bonds which would be used to create power and recreational facilities to give their area, the area furnishing water for the rest of us, a chance to grow and prosper.

Now, with a budget higher than any in the history of our 50 states, we're told we need an additional $200 million in taxes. There's uncertainty and unease in financial circles over the way we've stretched our credit and bonding capacity.

But we're told we must borrow another 260 million dollars for school construction. If you're an average family of four -- husband, wife, two children -- your share of the local and state tax burden is $1,396 dollars this year; and your family's share of state debt is $1,320 dollars. The portion of that which goes for public welfare has doubled in these eight years. And in spite of so-called prosperity, the number of people receiving welfare has increased since the end of World War II from 2 out of every 100 citizens to more than 15 out of a hundred.

Now donít get me wrong. No responsible person would suggest that we abandon our concern for those fellow human beings who, unable to make provision for themselves, must depend on us. Nor do any of us think we can fulfill our responsibility by grudgingly offering bare subsistence. Human compassion and simple brotherhood demands that where thereís need, we should do our utmost to provide some of the comforts that make life worthwhile. But this should be in response to real need. And where the need is temporary the help should be temporary, aimed at restoring self-sufficiency. Working men and women should not be asked to carry the additional burden of providing for a segment of society capable of caring for itself but which prefers making welfare a way of life, free-loading at the expense of these more conscientious citizens.

Thereís so much real need, so many things still to be done. We canít afford extravagance. For example, right now thereís much more we can do for children with hearing problems. Facilities in special schools for the deaf are so limited that many children are on waiting lists, unable to begin their education. In addition to facilities, we need specially trained teachers.

California also leads in some things that, unfortunately, give us no sense of pride. The only thing thatís gone up more than spending is crime. Our city streets are jungle paths after dark, with more crimes of violence than New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts combined. Narcotics arrests among youngsters under age 18 are up 40 percent over last year. Now, these arenít delinquents; these are our children, inquisitive as puppies and filled with the spirit of adventure. Theyíre no match for that character leaning against the lamppost down the block from the school. They need more help than just our love and lectures. And they can have such help if weíll untie the hands of our local law enforcement officers.

Legislation is needed to permit local ordinance that will restore to the police the flexibility and power in making arrests they once had, so they can take on that character [by] the lamppost. Such legislation has been proposed time after time by our hardworking and dedicated legislators in Sacramento. A twelve-point crime program was introduced in the last session. Some of it was buried in committee, some pigeon-holed; and some passed the legislature and then was vetoed in the executive office.

Back at the turn of the century, we embarked on a master plan of education. It was truly a bipartisan effort, above political rivalry and differences. Its principal architects were a Democrat assembly woman and a Republican assemblyman. Believing in that plan, Californians taxed themselves at a rate higher than any other Americans to build a great university.  But it takes more than dollars and stately buildings. Or do we no longer think it necessary to teach self-respect, self-discipline, and respect for law and order? Will we allow a great university to be brought to its knees by a noisy dissident minority? Will we meet their neurotic vulgarities with vacillation and weakness? Or will we tell those entrusted with administering the university we expect them to enforce a code based on decency, common sense, and dedication to the high and noble purpose of that university, that they will have the full support of all of us as long as they do this -- but we'll settle for nothing less.1

A great water project, given impetus in the administration of Earl Warren and further refined and perfected during the administration of Governor Knight, must be carried on more efficiently and economically than at present. The people are entitled to explanations of the fourteen-month delay in building power facilities at Oroville, as well as other delays and work supposedly finished but then redone repeatedly until original cost estimates have had to be revised upward again and again.

I know that in presenting these problems, I've probably sounded overly critical. But Abraham Lincoln said, ďA man may be loyal to his government and still be opposed to the peculiar principles and practices of the administration in power.Ē2

A Big Brother or paternalistic government can solve many problems for the people but I donít think weíll like the price it charges, ever increasing power over us and ever decreasing individual freedom. A great society must be a free society. And to be truly great and really free, it must be a creative society, calling on the genius and power of its people. Legislation alone canít solve our problems, nor will they disappear under a shower of tax dollars. The gold of the Golden State is to be found in its people, the greatest pool of technical skill, talent, and ability in all the world. Look at us. Can we possibly believe that anyone can manage our lives better than we can manage them ourselves? We have the ability to prove we are first in more than sheer numbers of people.

Thereís more at stake than just good government in California. We can demonstrate to our sister states, to an entire nation, that government should be of and by, as well as for the people; that this way of ours is still the greatest adventure and newest experiment in manís relation to man. And those who call it outmoded and old-fashioned, who offer what they say as something new, are in reality taking us back to the age-old concept of rule over the many by the few. There are those whoíd give up state sovereignty and make the state an administrative district to the federal government. Over and over they tell us our problems are too big, that only federal aid can provide an answer. But with federal aid goes federal control. And as the administration in Sacramento relinquishes its state sovereignty to Washington, at the same time, it takes more power from those whoíve been elected to run our towns and cities. Control over local school districts has tightened until we can see looming ever larger on the horizon the specter of state-controlled education, and eventually a nationalized school system. Welfare becomes needlessly expensive as red tape regulations prevent administration at the county level from putting sensible procedures into practice.

Certainly, we have a rightful claim on federal funds. Itís our money in the first place. Californiaís one of the so-called "rich states," which not only pays into the kitty everything it takes out but puts in a share for other states. But itís time we made a greater protest about the strings attached to our money before weíre allowed to use it. How many of us realize that in order to get federal welfare funds, our state had to cancel all residentsí requirements for establishing welfare eligibility? Today, a new comer to the state is automatically eligible for our many aid programs the moment he crosses the border.

The time has come for us to strengthen representative government and self government. The two are not the same but they go hand in hand. The executive branch of our state government has grown dangerously top-heavy and it seeks more and more to bypass the legislature. They give more and more power to bureaus and agencies who are not elected by the people but are beholden to the man who appointed them. We have a great many talented and knowledgeable men representing us in the assembly and senate. Some of them have become outstanding specialists in particular phases of state problems. Theyíre handicapped, though, by an old-fashioned concept harking back to an earlier day when representatives only served part-time. Well, itís a full-time job now, at part-time prices. And some of these men make unbelievable sacrifices simply because theyíre dedicated to public service. They deserve better.

And California deserves and needs a full-time legislature with compensation as nearly commensurate to the service rendered as we can make it.

As for self government, Iím not proposing an aimless hit-or-miss approach with government sitting back, hopefully waiting for a volunteer to recognize a problem and think of a solution. I am suggesting setting up a state-wide program on a systematic basis with government providing leadership and mobilizing the full creative abilities of the people, which in my opinion is the meaning of the phrase, ďgovernment of and by the people.Ē With the state government working to secure the maximum return of our tax money to the state for local administration as a workable alternative to a massive federal bureaucracy, imposing more and more restrictions on local and state rule.

Then a truly creative society stamps as acceptable only those programs which help California but which do not increase our own bureaucracy, result in more centralization of power, or greatly unbalance the budget. We can ask business, labor, the financial world, and the campus for the best brains available to modernize our government structure, eliminate waste and duplication. In the same way an approach can be made to in-depth study of the tax structure. Itís time we recognize that only people pay taxes. Thereís no way to pass them on to some impersonal organization. Eventually every dollar government spends must come from the pockets of each one of us. And we must have a clearer understanding and a greater voice in what we buy. Itís just possible that we canít afford everything thatís presented to us as another free government service.

The time has come also to review our thinking on the matter of property tax -- to see if we might not be clinging to an archaic and outmoded idea that never envisioned millions and millions of homeowners saving to build or buy and then finding themselves paying an increasingly high[er] rent to live in their own homes. Years ago, the original concept of property tax was in reality a form of income tax because land was the source of wealth. Iím sure no one could have anticipated the credit structure in which most of these homes are mortgaged. And the owner, in reality, only owns a limited equity in his home. But he's taxed on the basis of actually owning real estate to the full value of the property.

What happens to us when we reach our non-earning years, when we retire on our savings or pension or Social Security, that fixed income that canít keep pace with inflation? Do we just ignore the tragedy of elderly citizens discovering they can no longer afford to live in the homes in which theyíve grown old? Study in tax reform will take time and this problem requires an answer now. Tax forgiveness would unfairly burden other homeowners but isnít it possible we could declare a moratorium? Assess but not collect the tax until such time as the home was no longer needed and then collect the accumulated tax from sale of the estate.

A creative society mobilizing the business and industrial community to pinpoint who is unemployed, where and why, and then how to make a place for them in our productive-free economy, can fight a war on poverty a thousand times more effectively than government. We can call upon the best minds in our legal profession to work out a plan to remove once and for all the appointment of judges from the influence of partisan politics. Thereís no problem we cannot solve by a cooperative effort, using government in the full creative talent of our people.

This is true above all in the problem which is or certainly should be of greatest concern to every one of us. There must be no lack of equal opportunity, no inequality before the law, no differing standards with regards to constitutional rights for any American -- and weíre all Americans. Itís high time we stop hyphenating ourselves into blocks -- Irish-Americans, Negro-Americans, Italian-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Oriental-Americans and on and on. These blocks were set up for political expediency so cynical men could make cynical promises in a hunt for votes.

Well if taxes are too high, theyíre too high for all of us. If streets are unsafe after dark, everyoneís family is menaced. If prices go up, all our pockets are a little emptier. Certainly, there are problems in our differences and government must take the lead in their solution. But thereís a limit to what can be accomplished by laws and regulations, and I seriously question whether anything additional is needed in that line. What is needed is for government to mobilize the decent people of goodwill from every group to come together in a search for human understanding, to establish channels of communication and to make it plainly evident that those few who choose to walk with prejudice will walk alone. Never again should any parent know the heartbreak of explaining to a child that he's to be denied some of the good our country has to offer because in some way heís different.

Our problems are many but our capacity for solving them is limitless and the task of government is to discover and harness those latent solutions by calling upon the people to participate actively in government.

Now, Iíd like to mention one problem that goes beyond the scope of purely state issues and one which without doubt crosses party lines. Our two-party system is endangered more today than at any time in our history, and it cannot survive a long time continuation of the present imbalance of power. Party competition keeps both parties honest and respectful of the peopleís wishes. Without that competition, one-party rule becomes one-man rule. And the subsequent loss of freedom will apply to Democrats and Republicans alike.

I was a Democrat most of my life until I found I could no longer follow the leadership of that Party as it turned from the traditional precepts of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland.

I believed then and still believe that anything, whether it be management, labor, or government, which imposes unfairly on the freedom of the individual is tyranny and must be opposed. The choice is not between left or right but, rather, between up or down. The Founding Fathers knew this and they set our course upward, toward the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order. Theyíd known the other choice and turned from it because, whether we call it empire, kingdom, dictatorship, or the folly of Marxism, it leads only downward to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And even those earnest humanitarians, who trade some measure of manís independence for security or material welfare, are embarked on that downward course.

I believe there are millions of Democrats today devoted to the cause of freedom and torn between loyalty to party and concern for their own deeply held beliefs and principles. Winston Churchill, who made a change in his own political party, said: Some men change principle for party and some men change party for principle.3 To those of you who are Democrats, may I suggest you take the 1932 platform upon which Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected. Look again at its promises which were so overwhelmingly approved by Americans of both parties. The promise to reduce the cost of government by twenty five percent; to restore those rights and powers which even then it was claimed had been unjustly seized from the states and the individual by the federal government; and its promise of restoration of constitutional limits on the power of that government. Ask yourselves, "Which party would be most at home with those promises today?"

Iím not a politician in the sense of ever having held public office but I think I can lay claim to being a citizen-politician. Iíve always had an interest in politics and been an active participant. As a Democrat, I worked and campaigned for that Party. And now, believing as I do that the Republican Party is the party of limited government, individual freedom, and adherence to the constitution, Iíve worked for that Party as actively as I could in the campaigns of 1960, í62 and í64. In those campaigns, I supported all the party nominees because the choice today is not one of men but of basic and widely differing philosophies.

Now, Iíve come to a decision that even a short time ago I would have thought impossible for me to make. And yet I make it with no lingering doubts or hesitation. As of now, I am a candidate seeking the Republican nomination for governor. In the months ahead, I will present a number of specific proposals for solution[s] to the problems Iíve discussed here tonight and for others that werenít mentioned because of limited time. Iíll do my best to meet as many of you as possible and to explain clearly and completely my philosophy and beliefs. On those occasions, Iíll welcome your questions and do my best to answer them, so you will have no doubt of where I stand on the issues important to you.

Iíve discovered already thereís more gossip in this business than the one Iíve been in. Modern political dialogue isnít based on legitimate debate anymore or disagreement on views. Thereís a great deal of false image-making and an effort is made not to dispute the views you really hold but to invent some and hang them on you with the hope the false image will appear real. In my opinion, the issues are too important for that kind of game playing. Youíre entitled to a discussion of those issues and to know where any candidate stands -- to have a direct confrontation of the differing philosophies without name-calling or personalities. If in the coming primary, you choose someone else to be the party nominee, he will have my whole-hearted support. In the mean time, youíre entitled to some background statistics on me.

My education was in economics and sociology. I never attended dramatic school. Most of you found that out already. During World War II, I was called to active duty as a lieutenant in the cavalry reserve and ended up a captain and adjutant of an Air Force installation. Now, as many of you know, that was an administrative post. I believe Iíve had administrative and executive experience, possibly to a greater extent than many other businessmen, and perhaps of a type more akin to politics. For some 20 years, I served on the board and was six times president of a working union, the Screen Actorís Guild. This involved negotiating the basic contracts covering minimum wages and working conditions for some 15,000 performers; dealing with the upper echelon of organized labor because of our affiliation with the AF of L, and with governmental agencies and legislative committees. During this same period, I was on the board 10 years and twice president of the Motion Picture Industry Council. Itís a body made up of some thirty-odd unions and the management and ownership groups in our industry. In this capacity, I had occasion to represent the entire industry before legislative committees in Washington and on one occasion at a White House presidential meeting. In addition, Iíve served on charitable boards, been director of a business company, and a trustee of Eureka College.

I donít, in any way, suggest this experience is comparable to the enormity of Californiaís four billion dollar government. But on the other hand, the California election isnít like a banana republic revolution. We donít start building a government from scratch. Itís a going concern to the legislature, constitutional officers, in addition to governor, and prescribed duties for each. No one man runs the state of California. And no one man should try. But one thing a governor must do is use the power and prestige of his office to see that men and women receive administrative appointments on the basis of integrity and ability, and not as political payoffs. I have no commitments to any one but you and to my belief that the safety of our state and our nation should be entrusted to the care of the people.

To all of you whoíve worked in my behalf to make these past few months possible, youíve done me great honor and made me very proud. Yet even as I thank you, I must ask for your continued help. And I do so with the promise to do my utmost to deserve it.

Thank you.

Book/CDs by Michael E. Eidenmuller, Published by McGraw-Hill (2008)

1 For commentary on this political trajectory, see here and here.

2 Full quotation:  There is an important sense in which government is distinctive from administration. One is perpetual, the other is temporary and changeable. A man may be loyal to his government and yet oppose the particular principles and methods of administration." "Attributed to Abraham Lincoln. W. T. Roche, address at Washington, Kansas, April 9, 1942: "These words were spoken by Lincoln, then a Congressman, in defense of his condemnation of President Polk for provoking the Mexican War." Congressional Record, April 15, 1942, vol. 88, Appendix, p. A1493. Not found in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler (1953)." [Source:]

3 More exactly, Churchill stated: "Some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party." Source uncertain.

Transcription Note: Principal transcription work by South Transcription Unlimited, Inc. | | | (+63) 920.921.8709. Supplementary transcription work and editorial oversight by Michael E. Eidenmuller.

Page Updated: 10/2/21

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