"Why not fix California?"

A New California Dream (September 2011)

“In search of solutions to its chronic dysfunctions, Atwater takes a stroll through the state’s history, crafting a nice, well-paced narrative that explores the political, economic and psychological underpinnings of the California Dream – and the harsh hard times that keep smashing up against it...  makes the best and most extended case for a constitutional convention that we’ve seen.”

"Patrick Atwater's A New California Dream: Reconciling the Paradoxes of America's Golden State feels custom-made for my Humanities 450 course at San Francisco State University... a smart, deeply felt, and frankly hortatory essay, but it feels more like a warm-up for a still inchoate project that will make the most of his passion and erudition. May this first effort lead to many more."

California doesn’t need more lofty rhetoric about what a Dream place this state is.  Yes, there is a reason Google and Kogi were invented here.  Yet we are also defined by Watts, budgetary shenanigans, and high levels of poverty. And today California is in crisis. The impartial Legislative Analysts Office projects $20+ billion deficits until at least 2015.

We cannot pass a real budget even as we imagine California "Ground Zero for creative destruction."  The fact, though, is that we cannot but fall short of such utopian conceptions.  We should instead ask ourselves how to utilize the clarity and direction that the California Dream offers while remembering that we do in fact live in reality.  This practical perspective will allow us to build a government that finally reflects the incredible potential of the California people.

Cynics say that Californians are too polarised, too diverse, and too burdened with a byzantine bureacracy to come together to face our current crisis.  Yet this deficit is only rougly one percent of California’s nearly two trillion dollar economy.  

And these cynics don’t offer reasons so much as excuses.  California today has a proud history, a stunning natural environment, and an unbelievably creative people that connect to every corner of the globe.  Reflecting on the fractures that have flowed from the hyperidealistic California Dream of the past, this book shows how together we can harness those strengths through a constitutional convention to build a New California Dream focused on creating a better life for all Californians.

A New California Dream (Excerpt)