Is California beyond repair?

  • The state is mired in perpetual budget crisis and its government is paralyzed by partisan gridlock...
  • Groups across the political spectrum are pushing reforms, even a constitutional convention...
  • Frustrated Californians know something is wrong, but not what’s broken and how it can be fixed...

In California Crackup, Joe Mathews and Mark Paul provide clear and informed answers.

Their fast-paced and often humorous narrative deftly exposes the origins of our current political and fiscal problems—from the ugly 1879 constitutional convention to Hiram Johnson’s Progressive reforms to the Prop 13 tax revolt and its legacy of supermajority requirements and voter initiatives.

Mathews and Paul then furnish an uniquely California fix: innovative solutions that allow Californians to debate their choices, settle on the best ones, hold elected officials accountable for results, and choose anew if something doesn’t work.

Concise, lively, and provocative, California Crackup offers something new: a genuinely democratic operating system for the state.

The readers speak

From across the political spectrum, reviewers and readers offer praise for California Crackup:

"A compelling book called California Crackup describes this problem more generally. It was written by a pair of journalists and nonpartisan think-tank scholars, Joe Mathews and Mark Paul, and they explain, among other things, why Arnold Schwarzenegger’s experience as governor was going to be unlike any other experience in his career: he was never going to win."

Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair

“In California Crackup, Mathews and Paul provide the best explanation we’ve yet had of the scope and sources of the state’s governmental dysfunctionality. More important, they also provide the most far-reaching and thoughtful proposals for reinventing California’s government... that the state has seen since — well, probably ever.”

— Harold MeyersonAmerican Prospect

“[O]one of the most cogent, freshest, and incisive diagnoses of what ails California.”

Matt Miller, Left, Right, and Center

“Joe Mathews and Mark Paul detail a history of dysfunctional government and fiscal disarray that seems to have been written into the state’s DNA.”

Jennifer Rubin, Commentary

California Crackup is brilliant. It cuts through the familiar tangle of diagnoses and quick-fix solutions to provide a comprehensive and persuasive analysis of California’s dysfunctional governmental system. Paul and Mathews have coolly laid out a complicated story, made it readable, sometimes even comedic. It is the best discussion of the issue I’ve seen in over three decades.”

Peter Schrag, author of Paradise Lost

“It is the best thing I have read on the subject, period, and it should be required reading for every voter in this state. The book is a towering achievement: systematic, learned, and yet lucid, accessible, and highly readable.”

Russell Hancock, president, Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network.

“Neither Mr. Brown or Ms. Whitman, as they attempt to blaze a trail to the governor’s mansion, have suggested anything as sweeping as the proposals in California Crackup.

Troy Senik, Wall Street Journal

“The book is brisk, well-argued, at times darkly funny — and deserves an audience far broader than the policy wonks who will be drawn to it.”

Scott Timberg

“Let’s get the blurb out of the way at the beginning: this is a great book; everyone who wants to fix California needs to read it.”

Garrett Gruener, California Journal of Politics and Policy

“They’ve written a terrific book. Cataloging the multiple, inter-locking political elements that caused the collapse of governance in California, the two veteran political writers draw these pieces together into a lucid framework that offers not only a clear diagnosis, but also a serious prescription for what ails the not-so-Golden State. The clarity of their writing and the cogency of their argument put to shame the content of the current campaign for governor.“

Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine, Calbuzz

“When Mathews and Paul shine a light on the way we do things, it’s enough to make a cockroach blush.”

Dan Bernstein, The Press Enterprise