An Age of Science - America in the Feynman Era

The First Step Forward: California, 1966 - Chapter 1: the Adventure Begins
  • The First Step Forward
    California, 1966

    1. The Adventure Begins

    Studying the memoirs left by those who were present at the time, it is curious how the first decision of what would be a meteoric career of one already very accomplished man was taken quite swiftly. More pondered matters were taken down much more quicker than this ultimately rash call would be.

    This idea that would become so powerful was brewed over in a quaint place, Boulder Road, Altadena, in California, in a family embrace; it was during Christmas time as well. At that time, however, it was already a familiar rumour, joked around and discussed more seriously depending on whom one spoke with, at what time and after how many drinks.

    The real start of this, however, was precisely on the day 22 of November of 1965, as Professor of Theoretical Physics in Caltech, Richard Philips Feynman, finished writing his brief response to a kind letter sent by Vice-President Hubert Humphrey congratulating him on his receiving of the Nobel Prize in Physics, thanking the Vice-President for his words and admitting his great admiration for him. After he signed the short missive, he sat there, looking at the letter, thinking to himself.

    He was caught like that by his wife Gweneth, who asked him what was on his mind. Smiling at their three-years-old son on her arms, he said, half-jokingly: “I think I should run for Governor.” She laughed at this, and it soon became a common joke at the household. And then of the extended family. And friends. And neighbours. The entire network involved in those early stages cannot seem to agree on when it was the inside joke stopped being that, when in late January 1966, Professor Feynman gave a speech before a crowd of supporters, mostly admirers of his scientific achievements, and most of them scientists themselves, and university students, announcing his campaign to, surprisingly enough, the Democratic primaries for the gubernatorial election in November.

    At the time, nobody would have guessed that the path to one of the greatest men in American history was just starting, and that would only end decades later, in distant shores and in a world that was so marked by this moment that it would be unrecognizable had it not happened.
    Chapter 2: the Speech that Moved the World
  • 2. The Speech that Moved the World

    The speech that inaugurated the campaign of Professor Feynman to governorship was not as long as the thirty minute speech his soon-to-be main opponent, the actor Ronald Reagan, would give; although they touched on similar points, Feynman’s speech would have a greater focus on the matter he was most keen on – the education and the development of the people.

    “Good evening. It is a pleasure to be here before you. Before me, I see some of the brightest minds of this great State of ours. Many who I have had the opportunity to meet, and many others I hope to meet in the future. I see brilliant researchers, the creators of astounding theories, and, most importantly, the most vital link in our scientific system, teachers who extend their knowledge unto their students and help spread the know-how and the abilities of our human race.

    I also see students. It is good for me to see students here, for I have dedicated these last years for helping to shape the education of the fine young minds of this State. I have seen what they are taught, and what science is to them, and although I saw a great deal of potential, I also saw the tools to lay it to waste. Our education system is failing our children, and the proof is that they are not interested in science. Our children should adore science, and want to learn how this beautiful world of ours functions. Only through that sheer curiosity has our nation been blessed with such fine minds as Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers and Albert Einstein, among countless others who have been vital in pushing our country to the forefront of the world. If we are to continue strong, then this issue must be addressed. Educational reform is needed for now.

    California is a great State, and the finest example perhaps above all of Earth of the sheer power of what science, technology and human curiosity can achieve if invested upon. Almost twenty million people live in this State, almost one in each ten Americans. Just one hundred years ago, it would be less than half a million. That growth, that constant adding of strength and manpower to feed our labour force, our factories and our farms, it is only possible due to technology, due to science. The telegraph, the Transcontinental Railroad, electricity and the creation of water projects, those are all great feats of the Californian people bent on making this land, which had been left untended and was deemed worthless, the Golden State that it is.

    In 1841, it took 110 days for news of the death of President Harrison to reach Los Angeles from Washington DC. Today, news from the Capitol can come in a matter of seconds to the televisions of any Californian house, and our people can speak with their representatives by phone and express their grievances. Technology has been an important part of making these United States, and in making California the integral and vital part of the United States that it is. We should be mindful of continuing our forefather’s legacy and invest in our future. The future of California and the future of technology walk hand to hand.

    California has a long record of fostering the brilliant minds this nation seems so fruitful with. This century we have seen the rise of the cinematic arts, and California can have the pride of having the place people think of whenever they think of cinema, glamour and filmography – Hollywood. Hollywood began as a refuge of filmmakers being persecuted for patent infringement in the early days of film, which the good people of California took under their wing and treated as their own. Having come to California in my adult life, I can say something about the hospitality of the Californians.

    That alliance between California and the rogue filmmakers became the most successful pact in the cultural history of our country. Today, it is the universal capital of cinema and a landmark of all that California has to offer. It is in the interest of all Californians to promote and expand such agreements, and make California the place where young, bright minds want to invest and live in, and where their dreams may come true.

    I have come under the public eye since last year, when I was jointly awarded with Doctor Julian Schwinger from Harvard University and Doctor Sin-Itiro Tomonaga from Tokyo University the Nobel Prize for Physics, for our work on quantum electrodynamics. Don’t worry, I won’t try to explain it to you. And, last December, I got to be in Stockholm and thank all my friends and family for the kind notes they had sent me to congratulate me on this great honour.

    Among those notes was one sent by our Vice-President, Hubert Humphrey, a man who I admire greatly for his work in the service of this nation. In this letter he hoped that I would continue to make many more notable contributions to Man’s unending quest for knowledge. It was that moment I understood what I must do next.

    I reflected about this land I have come to call home. California. I have grown roots here, I have had a son in this beautiful land, and I have made great work in this State and for this State. Besides my work at the University, I represented our scientific community in the atomic peace conference in Geneva, wrote textbooks to teach our students in physics, in a way that will make them more enthusiastic and better at physics and all other sciences they set their minds unto, and I have served in the State Curriculum Commission, where I saw first-hand the sorry state of textbooks used in our education system.

    If we are to create science, we must first create scientists. If I am to fulfil what Mr. Humphrey asked of him, I believe it is my duty to, more than pursue my own questions in the closed rooms of the University, to build a better and stronger foundation for the scientific achievements of everybody, out here, in the open skies of our fine State.

    With that in mind, I have decided to officially stand as candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor of California. I have chosen to run for the Democratic Party because I have come to see its work has been paramount for the technological and cultural development of our nation, one in which our State of California has always been a leader.

    I embark on a great quest, one that goes beyond my usual tasks. I face many challenges, but I have hope that, through sheer determination, I may come to face them all. I believe in the people of California and ask that, if you believe in me, if you believe in science and in the progress of the United States, that you support this quest to have it be so. I think we live in an Age of Science, an age in which each man is challenged to overcome barriers that once stood on his way and in which we, as a nation, advance beyond all odds to create something grander than ourselves. I believe that, if we put our minds to it, we, the people of California, can accomplish anything. I hope you too can believe in the Age of Science. Let us then see this age fulfilled.

    Thank you.”

    The full speech took around ten minutes to be said, with a few intervals for laughter and clapping. Although somewhat short, the point was set across – Professor Feynman intended to become Governor of California. His approach, based on his experience with the education policies of the State, and in his hopeful view of the future as ultimately scientific, was odd but very well received, not only by the audience in the room, but by the many Californians witnessing it through their televisions.

    So near the climax of the Space Race that had the United States in uproar around building increasingly better spacecrafts to accomplish late President Kennedy’s goals of landing a man on the Moon, the ideals that Feynman took as his own, of technological progress and of being leaders in innovation, resonated with the people, especially among the younger generations, who saw in Feynman’s call for education reform a gateway for the grievances of the university students, whose protests at Berkeley had sparked a debate that would have paramount importance during the campaign.
    Chapter 3: the Race to June
  • the Race to June

    The first challenge ahead of both Richard Feynman and Ronald Reagan, the two great outsider surprises, one running for the Democratic nomination and the other for the Republican one, were getting those nominations, as each had to face enshrined and revered politicians that stood as strong candidates for the position they sought.

    The Democratic primaries had a surprising number of candidates, considering how the incumbent, Pat Brown, had apparently decided to go back on his promise of not seeking a third term and placed his name for a new campaign; it was customary for the incumbent to be only nominally challenged during the primaries. Despite this custom, there was a surprisingly hard-fought race beginning for the primaries; his main opponent was the Mayor of Los Angeles, Sam Yorty, a populist conservative with many ties with the Republican Party and who had been an avid critic of Brown’s response to the Watts riots in Los Angeles and a supporter of the discriminatory Proposal 14, which Brown opposed vehemently, and had collaborated with the California Supreme Court to see repealed as unconstitutional. Yorty posed a real threat to Brown, threatening to take much of the vote and have him weakened or even refused in the primaries. There were at least five other candidates of lesser note contending, including Richard Feynman, whose support was difficult to gauge at first but didn’t seem concerning to either Brown nor Yorty, who believed an outsider would not be nominated.

    On the Republican side, the respectable establishment candidate was none other than the former Mayor of San Francisco, George Cristopher, a Greek-American moderate Republican with strong ties to Civil Rights. However, the polls seemed to give the outsider Ronald Reagan, who spearheaded the conservative faction of the Republicans, and who was supported by many of the Party’s establishment, wanting a new image for the Party in California.

    Reagan tailored his speeches towards capturing the moderate vote of the Republicans, understanding the conservative base was with him and that he had to focus on taking the carpet out of the feet of Cristopher. Clamouring for Party unity, the Reagan campaign carried an image of unifying the until then faction-ridden Republican Party. A smear campaign against Cristopher also brought terrible wounds upon his campaign, bringing greater strength to Reagan and his conservatives. Even great personalities such as Richard Nixon and William Knowland worked behind the scenes to promote Reagan’s campaign; both men had been defeated by Brown in previous bids for governorship.

    As the polls continued, showing a fierce competition on the Democratic side between Brown and Yorty and then Feynman as a distant third, and, in contrast, a great margin for victory of Reagan over any other opponent for the Republican nomination. This in itself spelled bad news for the actual campaign in the second half of the year. For Brown, what was supposed to have been an easy victory against an unexperienced Republican was turning into a tough struggle against a conservative wave washing over both parties.
    Chapter 4: a Surprising Twist
  • a Surprising Twist

    Pat Brown was seeing himself in a sinking ship. His broken promise of not seeking a third term did not help his popularity. That combined with the stress of dealing with the rising popularity of both Yorty and Reagan made it increasingly difficult for him to fulfil his new promise of running a low-key campaign while focusing on governing the State as he had elected to do.

    The State was not exactly going through a time when it could allow its Governor to take leave of absence to focus on his own re-election rather than actually doing its job, and that was becoming ever clearer. The election was rising the tempers of the people, as the conservatives became ever more vocal and the liberal reaction to this, especially among minorities and college students, which Reagan seemed to be keen on portraying as the enemy of the conservatives, was as just as fierce. The walls were beginning to shake, and many feared the whole building could crumble down.

    He began to realise that the various concerns and the stress was making him commit several gaffes, and often had him think less rationally than he would have liked. That was inadmissible by his own standards, and he understood that, should the trend continue, it would become noticeable and harm more than his campaign, his entire legacy.

    It was for these reasons that, in late April 1966, Governor Pat Brown announced he was, after all, renouncing from seeking a third term and pulling his name from the ballots of the Democratic primaries. This had many think that the victory of Yorty was assured, but only for around thirty seconds, when the Governor surprised everyone by fully endorsing for the primaries no other than Professor Richard Feynman. He stated he believed that he would be an able man to continue his legacy on infrastructure and water management, considering his ties with the scientific community, and that would be capable of solving the “educational crisis” the State had been going through, a euphemism to the Berkeley protests. He pointed out how he had witnessed the work of Feynman in the State Curriculum Commission and that he believed California should be proud of and honour this fruitful son.

    Privately, the main goal of Brown’s endorsement was to give anyone a fighting chance against Sam Yorty, whose politics he disagreed with and whose demeanour during the last year, weakening his government and the Party for the sake of personal gain, he utterly despised. Feynman seemed to be a progressive, infrastructure-oriented if overall clueless man, who also stood to take away Reagan’s trump card of being an ‘outsider’. Besides, it would be sensible to think the professor would need some advice in governorship, and he stood quite qualified for that.

    If Nixon wanted to have a puppet contest, he would be glad to show him two could play at that game.
    Chapter 5: more Help
  • more Help

    With the withdrawal of Brown and his endorsement of Feynman, his campaign took a swift rise up the pools, putting him around fifteen percent below Yorty by most accounts, a sizeable difference but one that could still be overcome if his rising popularity continued to rise.

    This meteoric rise was caught by a faraway radar, one that had deep ties with the election taking place, having contended in one himself, but having been dislodged and taken to Washington DC, where he was serving as Chief Justice of the United States. This radar was none other than Earl Warren, who had been Governor of California for a decade from 1943 to 1953 and, despite being a Republican, Warren was a proud leader of the Progressive Republicans, who had held great sway in California in his days, and were now virtually overrun by Reagan’s conservatives.

    Having paid keen attention to the somehow strange events of the election for Governor of his native State, Warren was aware that the real contenders were two outspoken conservatives, one in each party, and a somewhat wild card but probably leaning progressive Democrat.

    Obliged to remain in Washington to fulfil his duties in the Supreme Court, Warren took the time to write an open letter fully endorsing the campaign of Professor Feynman, which gave him a great deal of respect among the population, and that struck the intended blow against both conservative candidates. For the primaries, many Democrats were emboldened that Feynman was a viable candidate that could continue the Democratic hold over the State, taking away a good portion of the support given to Yorty as the “serious” candidate, while the first polls in the main election to show Feynman as winning over Reagan appeared, even if in minority, reflecting the loss of a number of moderate and progressive Republicans alienated by the outspoken conservative faction Reagan led.

    This sudden rise in Feynman’s numbers wasn’t left unnoticed; after all, he was not the only candidate with great ties with beloved political characters living outside of California. Reagan, besides the counsel of Nixon, who, despite being a native Californian, resided in New York City, there came a surprising new development as President Eisenhower, barely enjoying retirement in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania without getting his nose into politics,, came forward to endorse Ronald Reagan for Governor of California.

    The conclusion most took by this involvement of bigshots from the East Coast into the gubernatorial elections was that, by this point, the primaries were a formality more than anything, as Feynman and Reagan surprisingly became the stars of the election, while their opponents, Yorty and Cristopher, were side-lined by the media.
    Chapter 6: the campaign of Sam Yorty
  • the Campaign of Sam Yorty

    The campaign of Sam Yorty for the Democratic nomination would manage to become something more than a footnote in History by virtue not of the man himself, but his rival – he stood as the first rival to any elected political position Richard Feynman campaigned for.

    The campaign cannot be dismissed, however, as being wholly uninteresting. If anything, it set the precedence for some of the accusations that Feynman would have to bear throughout most of this new career of his, starting soon enough with Reagan’s own attacks, who would repeat much of what Yorty had stated already.

    Sam Yorty was caught as surprised as anyone else with Feynman’s sudden rise to leader in the Democratic primaries. Even Feynman was caught surprised. The withdrawal of Pat Brown and the appearance of this new outsider of whom he knew very little about made him stutter as his campaign personnel set together a biography of the Physics Professor at Caltech.

    Unfortunately, it was during that same period that Warren and Eisenhower began to demonstrate their interest in the election, tanking his numbers in the process; when Yorty was ready to begin his attacks, May was already on its way and the primaries approached with Sam Yorty almost forgot by the media.

    While lacking both the will, the history and the energy to prosecute the vindictive campaign he had set out against Brown, especially as it would have been inadequate to lead with this Professor who had virtually been a non-personality in politics before and with whom he carried no feud whatsoever, Yorty made a point of his campaign of bringing to light old accusations that had haunted Feynman years before, and brought him to California in the first place – his issues with the FBI around the possibility he was a Soviet spy that had collaborated to give the Reds nuclear secrets.

    As communistic accusations were being thrown at the student protesters at Berkeley, with whom Yorty had the greatest antipathy, and who Feynman was seemingly cordial with, this new link created a scandal, as sensationalist newspapers made guesses about the outcome of the so-called investigations.

    However, the accusations didn’t provide the punch Yorty had hoped. To the press, this only made Feynman a more interesting candidate, spreading his name more widely without doing anything help Yorty’s own, giving some reason to the old adage of there being no such thing as bad publicity. Besides, having Yorty call someone communist wasn’t exactly an original idea, and in the minds of the Democrats, it was mostly diluted with his previous use of the ‘red card’ against Pat Brown.

    Feynman, when questioned, vehemently denied any connections to any Communist movement whatsoever, and was able to stand firm in his ground regarding his sabbatical in Brazil; this was helped by referring to his friendship with Oppenheimer, who had faced severe persecution around the same time and had been rehabilitated by Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. This was enough to sate the electorate for the time being, but keen eyes knew that more exhausting work would be needed later on.

    As dreaded June came, the primary polls were already decided for both parties. Feynman’s and Reagan’s lead pointed that those two, incredibly enough, would be the ones facing each other in November.
    Chapter 7: Primaries
  • 7. Primaries

    Finally, the primaries came and the results were, if incredible for anyone who had been asleep since January, quite predictable to those who followed the election from even a healthy distance. The newspapers already had their attentions focused on the race ahead to decide the governor.

    In the Republican primaries, Reagan’s victory had long been assured. This was confirmed when he received almost 65% of the vote, a strong majority among the Republicans and more than 700 thousand votes more than his distant second competition, former Mayor George Cristopher. This allowed him to reclaim the mantle of a united Republican Party, and have the conservatives continue to enforce their strategy of chastising signs of discord within, allegedly to avoid dividing the party, but truly to suppress the opposition to their wing from the moderate folk in the GOP.

    On the Democratic side, the developments that had made this primary a predictable event were quite more recent, with the clear advantages only truly settling around late May; a month earlier, the numbers were quite different indeed, with Feynman a virtual unknown. Now all of that had changed, and on the 8th Feynman emerged unquestioned champion with almost 70% of the vote, and defeating Sam Yorty by almost 1.3 million voters, a number that went beyond even the most optimistic expectations.

    The campaign was set; both candidates had become solid candidates for their respective parties. The Republicans rallied under Reagan, as the conservative wing became increasingly emboldened by their victory and by the audacity of their champion, while the Democrats were mostly happily supporting Professor Feynman, whose charisma was proving as wonderful as was said among the scientific community, a delightful surprise to most. Prepared by years of professorship for this exact thing, he was able to joke and explain serious and complicated matters and leave everyone delighted and more aware of the issues surrounding this election.

    The two candidates were newcomers, and the two had swiftly rose to become sensations in the mediatic world of politics; this election attracted the attentions of the entire nation, as the developments of the combat between the (mad) scientist and the actor continued.

    Now, that race grew in power, as both candidates turned to each other, preparing for the ramming of horns. And, perhaps more importantly, behind them stood great giants who had long overdue bills to pay with each other, and who would make sure this would be a memorable election.
    Chapter 8: planes are landing
  • 8. planes are landing

    As the election fever for California, 1966 continued to grow wildly, in the weeks following the primaries two planes flew across the country, each bringing with them two very important individuals; first came Earl Warren, the Chief Justice, who took advantage of the Supreme Court’s summer vacation, lasting until October, to visit his native state, officially in vacation. It didn’t raise too many eyebrows, however, when two days after his arrival he visited the Feynman house in Altadena, much to the interest of the press. From there, the former Governor would repeat his endorsement of Professor Feynman’s bid for governorship, in a daring move that crossed party lines to do so.

    Appearing to be under the wing of tutelage of Earl Warren was seemingly profitable to Feynman’s efforts. Earl Warren was a Republican, but a Republican aligned with the Progressive wing that had once dominated the Party. He had been Governor during a pivotal point of the State’s history, from the Second World War to the beginnings of the Cold War, and his programme of efficiency and planning resonated with the ideals of Feynman and with the people of California, who associated it with an orderly and smart government of public work enhancement. Which also happened to be what Feynman was promising.

    What exactly was the role of Earl Warren in the Feynman campaign is not certain, but many point out that his influence, know-how and contacts allowed many doors to be opened to the inexperience physicist, and even that he oriented his campaign by pointing out what was needed and where for votes to be won. However, given the intimate relationship of Warren and the Feynman family, becoming a usual guest at the house, very little is written of those campaign days.

    In the first days of July, however, another plan took off from the East Coast, this time from Gettysburg Airport, in Pennsylvania, and carrying none other than former President Dwight Eisenhower, who had the grace to also give as an official reason that he wanted to spend the 4th of July and then perhaps the rest of the summer in his retirement residence in Palm Desert, in Riverside County. The poorly-hid charade was broken when Ronald and Nancy Reagan went to pass the 4th of July in that very city, where a great crowd greeted them and former President Eisenhower, who spoke on behalf of Reagan and the need to rebuild the Republican Party. He spoke of the need to find common-sense solutions and unite Californians to strengthen their cause.

    Eisenhower made an effort to always attract the media’s attention as much as possible to both himself and Reagan, who he pushed to make it his prime vehicle for the race. In his contact with the media, there was but one annoyance, that was their push to have the former President comment on the persecutions of Oppenheimer and, by association, Feynman, which had come to light due to the accusations of Sam Yorty. This matter seemed to disturb the former President, who vehemently refused to comment. The only time he did say something, it was answering a question on what he thought of the accusations against Oppenheimer during his tenure, and the answer was “It was a mistake”, seeming very upset with the very line of questioning. This was enough to create a scandal that lowered Reagan’s points slightly.

    The nature of Eisenhower’s role in the Reagan campaign seems to have been quite different from the one of Warren, despite the competition between the two the media claimed to exist. He was not a mentor of Reagan, but was more of a force to draw attention unto his campaign trail; not that Reagan needed it, as his popularity was high, due to his personal charm, but the President’s presence did help him draw more of the media’s attention.

    As it was, the two national candidates also helped bringing a closer focus towards the candidates’ actions in southern California. Traditionally a Republican stronghold and a severely underrepresented one at that, until the State Supreme Court had, in late October 1965, gave an order for reapportionment of the State legislatures that balanced the north-south power dynamic much more to the southern county’s advantages. The fact that each candidate hailed from and spent more time around Los Angeles did however help their popularity among those areas; who would emerge victorious for those combats, however, was still to be seen.
    Chapter 9: talk of education
  • 9. talk of education

    During the campaign, Reagan maintained his talking points, that were mostly unchangeable throughout his tours around the State, speaking around the need for crime control, the end of welfare and then break the power of the left-wing in the State, the last point somewhat affected by the dropout of Governor Pat Brown, as the Republicans had planned to set out against his broken promise of not seeking a third term.

    Feynman, rather than go against what Reagan stated, possibly because he didn’t disagree entirely with some points either, decided to continue to pursue his interests in the office – namely, the improvement of public education and the providing of infrastructure for California, especially as it gave both employment opportunities and increased the business attractiveness of the State.

    Education was, therefore, a major talking point on Feynman’s list. Having worked in the State Curriculum Commission, he was aware of the lack of proper textbook material for the schoolchildren of the State, a situation he made a key issue throughout his campaign.

    In early September, as parents prepared to send their children to a new school year, Professor Feynman spoke before a great crowd, mostly made of schoolchildren’s parents, teachers and other supporters in the field of education, where he exposed his program for education during his governorship.

    “It is a thrill to see such a crowd of young families coming to see me. It is always enjoyable to see young faces raising children, providing for them teaching them how to be good Americans, good scientists, good citizens of this fine State. Those children are our future, and it is a joy to see how our future flourishes. I have looked it up and, in California alone, almost 4 million and 8 hundred thousand boys and girls will be attending school this year. That is almost one in each four Californians, a tremendously great proportion. Their parents account more around 4 million Californians, or one in each five Californians.

    I am sorry if I bore you with the numbers, but I am a physicist, a mathematician at heart, and the math is simple on this – you are not alone. The parents of California make a significant proportion of the electorate, and if they rally together no elected official can forgo their promises to them.

    I am a parent myself. And I am an educator. And I am a citizen, a concerned citizen, who sees that only through education can the efforts of our country come to fruition. It is for those reasons I see the education of our children as paramount and the number one point in my work in public service.

    The first and most urgent need for the schoolchildren of California is for their textbooks to the best ones conceivable. For that reason, I will put the State Curriculum Commission to work on finding and composing the finest piece of material they may find, with the help of experts from our great research centres. I know these people, I worked with them and I know which ones our children will need to teach them the crucial points of their education.

    What is also needed is that our children have access to the finest pieces of equipment in their schools, be them for the classroom, for their physical education or for their laboratory work. Nothing is as dangerous for an active young mind than to see old and wasted things in its way. It shows them we do not care and it makes them not care either. We will have none of that, and supply our schools with the best material so that our children can go hands down on it and set on work. That is true education, to create and see how things work. That is how men and women are built.

    Our education needs to refocus. I have seen many students with impeccable remarks come through my classroom. Some of them were fine young minds, ready to create new things and work with the degree of excellence that I always demand for my students and will demand from your government. They are capable of thinking for themselves and assess problems and create solutions. That is what we need! That is what California needs and should create. Others, however, went through their education never truly learning to do anything, merely memorising the phrases and concepts and knowing nothing of how to apply them. I am always unimpressed with such a man. I do not want to work with them, and I do not want to be responsible for bringing more of them into the world.

    From there comes my greatest grievance with our current Superintendent of Public Instruction. This November, the people of California will be going to the ballot and, beyond choosing a governor, will also choose many key elements of the Californian State government. Among the most important for a parent such as myself, the Superintendent stars on that list. To choose a good Superintendent is an important part of the duty of the citizen. I will do everything to ensure that our children receive their best education, but without a great Superintendent to execute those plans, it will be a more arduous and slower task. For the sake of our children, who grow up so fast, immediate action is needed.

    I have met Superintendent Rafferty. I worked with him when I was at the State Curriculum Commission, and through this campaign, as I got to know more and more people who make this great State function, I had the opportunity to meet him too. I have also read his books, one of them called “Suffer, Little Children”. I was not impressed. I did not think the title of the book meant the goal of the philosophy written within its pages.

    Superintendent Rafferty’s view of education is the education I have seen time and time again fail my students. It puts memorizing concepts that they do not understand and have them report them back without contemplating them thoroughly. The study habits he wants our children to follow and the textbooks he wants them to learn from are devoid of content and applications. Physics, mathematics, science, they are not about knowing things, memorising theorems. They are, in the end, about knowing to put your hands to work and create things that are useful for our society, for our families. You can know a lot about everything, and have memorised all names in the encyclopaedias, but if you do not know how to do great things with your knowledge, you are not a scientist.

    This is not a partisan issue. This is not between liberal and conservative. This should not be a political matter. It is a travesty that a man has to run for office for his grievances around education be heard, and it is a travesty how Rafferty has made this office a political one. This is not about politics, this is about our children. It is not about liberal or conservative, but about their future.

    I have talked with Superintendent Rafferty and expressed my concerns. I exposed him my program for the education of our children and asked – are you ready to put this into motion? He didn’t seem willing to cooperate. He is too bent in his ways, despite being proven wrong. That is the opposite of what a man of science and a public servant should be like. That is the opposite I am at Caltech and the opposite I will be in Sacramento.

    With that in mind, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot endorse Mr. Rafferty to continue serving as our Superintendent of Public Instruction. Upon understanding this, I thought about all Californian educators I knew and had met in these last months, I enquired about the subject with many people knowledgeable about the matter and a number of fitting candidates were found. I personally interviewed them, and found that this State has been blessed with many competent enough to fulfil such a position, and with whom I hope to work with from next year forward.

    However, one man distinguished himself. I had the pleasure to meet Wilson Riles, a devoted educator working in our Department of Education. This was one strong man, born in the most precarious of conditions, in poverty and being tormented throughout his life, working his way through elementary school, and still always keeping his head straight on to his goals, serving our country during the war and returning to hold the noble position of teacher to the most disadvantaged of children, making all he could to provide them with the best education his meagre resources allowed him.

    His efforts have allowed him to rise greatly, and he has devoted his life to the pursuit of education opportunities for all. Today, he is the head of our compensator education program, that improves the opportunities of students that suffer from disabilities, allowing them, despite their frailty, to pursue an honest living. This is a very important job, and I wouldn’t take him away from it if I didn’t know that there is a more important job yet for him to do.

    Such a man is the one who we need as Superintendent, for he knows of the most concerning of cases, those of the people who don’t have enough to live with, and have come to believe they will not rise from that position. That is un-American thinking and it is wrong. In America, in California, everyone has the opportunity to rise, regardless of where they begin.

    With that in mind, I now introduce to you the man who I will be working with as Superintendent of Public Instruction for California. I hope you find him as fitting and as qualified as I did, from the many conversations we have had the opportunity to enjoy”.

    Then, Professor Feynman gave way and allowed Wilson Riles to stand forward and speak. A general shock was felt. Until then, the name was virtual unknown to Californians, and even Riles hadn’t considered the office until Feynman came up with the suggestion of endorsement, and even then he had his doubts. The paramount concern was the fact that Riles was a black man, which meant he would be the first black man to be elected to State office, and this amidst the racial tensions due to the Watts riots in 1965. This endorsement made clear Feynman’s position regarding civil rights and racial relations, at the very least.

    Many were surprised with how well-spoken, articulate and thoroughly nice Wilson Riles was, starting with he short speech he gave presenting himself and his campaign for the position of Superintendent. He spoke of his life and childhood struggles, but in a very cordial manner, looking back on his efforts as being character-builders rather than anything he felt anguished for. He spoke of his experiences meeting white colleagues, and how he understood that most Americans didn’t care the least about other peoples’ race, as they had their own personal matters. This resonated will with the audience, many of whom disliked the radical ways of the student movements but were not fond either of the violent struggle for segregation of the conservatives throughout the nation. Riles also spoke of his goal of ensuring early education with mastery on reading, writing and math, with efforts towards parental involvement and teacher instruction, and his promises of keeping the office non-partisan by creating a league of conservatives and liberals to allow every idea to be heard when discussing educational policy.

    Wilson Riles seemed to be quite competent, as Professor Feynman had said. There were no particular persecutions of the man outside of some fringe segregationist conservatives, but his endorsement had left many wondering what was exactly Feynman’s opinion on racial policy.

    The answer they would get was thoroughly simple, as found out by a quick interview with a local radio, during a campaign stop in central California.

    INTERVIEWER: Professor Feynman! What is your stance on Wilson Riles bid for Superintendancy?

    FEYNMAN: I fully endorse and support Mr. Riles. I look forward to working alongside him to provide the best education to all schoolchildren of the State of California.

    INTERVIEWER: Our audience questions what is your opinion regarding Mr. Riles race.

    FEYNMAN: Mr. Riles is a black man, as far as I am aware of.

    INTERVIEWER: Our audience wonders what your statement on race relations and civil rights is.

    FEYNMAN: I hope to govern alongside the best minds that California has to offer, regardless of their race. I come from the scientific world, where we promote the best people to the job. I don’t know how public servants usually do this, but I will continue using the methods I have seen working to produce the great technological developments of our era. I hope I have been candid towards your audience.

    He was. For better or for worse, Feynman became closely associated with the ideals of equal opportunities and of racial integration. Unlike what had been thought, however, his always moderate position regarding the matter cost him little support, possibly because those disinclined in voting for a pro-Civil Rights candidate were already on the polls for Reagan. It did, however, bring the bulk of the African American vote to his side, a partnership that would become loyal through the remaining election. In November, more than 90% of polled black voters stated they had voted for him.

    The other great demographic group that Feynman captured with this speech was the parents, who had until then polled mostly for Reagan. With his focus on education, Feynman was able to pull most of what would normally be a conservative group and bring it to his side, if not on as overwhelming numbers as the African-American vote, at least as a healthy majority; his statistics were also correct, which proved he created a great dent on Reagan’s numbers.

    Education was a major point in favour of Feynman. Often, he brought familiar faces from Caltech and elsewhere in the scientific community, who gave speeches alongside him addressing the matter Feynman hoped to address in the particular rally, often regarding education and technology. For that reason perhaps, he never seemed to drop it throughout his campaign.
    Chapter 10: flowing talks on water
  • 10. flowing talks on water

    Water was one of the greatest non-issue when the election began. The pet projects of Pat Brown, who saw a dramatic increase in water-resource development during his governorship, this was one of the few works the Republicans did not relentlessly persecute out of the Brown administration, and it was for a good reason – they were widely popular and useful for the Californian people.

    Perhaps it was for this very reason Feynman pressed this issue. Throughout August, some Californians wondered if the Professor had given in to a masochist trait, as he campaigned exclusively throughout what seemed to be the driest and hottest regions of the State, meeting with the agricultural communities of those regions, both those who suffered greatly due to the lack of water, and those whose sufferings had been relieved by the water projects. This took him throughout most of Southern California, which in fact made sense with the remaining of his campaign in that region.

    The endorsement of Governor Pat Brown was very useful for the Feynman campaign at that point, as he was persuaded (some say with the help of Earl Warren) to give a speech on his work with water projects and, more importantly, on what remained to be done and how necessary it would be for a thorough mind, a scientific mind, to continue this legacy. This was an obvious nod to Professor Feynman, who enthusiastically took on the role of heir to Brown.

    Having briefly studied engineering at MIT, and having worked in more technical projects during Project Manhattan, the Professor of Theoretical Physics got along surprisingly well with understanding the rationale of the water projects. He could study their plans, understand the calculations and, at some point, actually point out problems, ask questions and make suggestions. These demonstrations of practical knowledge gave him great credibility among the rural electorate, who hoped he would be capable and willing of pursuing the water projects that were vital for the enterprises and not fall to problems of corruption or sheer political stupidity.

    Feynman was, in fact, often very enthusiastic about water. In many of his speeches throughout that Scorching August, as the media would call it and he later on adopt it, he talked with thrill about the ideal of California as the State of great projects and of making great networks of water and people, engineering the land to provide for all. One of the most memorable speeches of his, which would provide one of his campaign mottos, was the famous “Create Wealth” speech, given in San Bernardino.

    “I am quite sorry for everyone who came out today to see me and talk to me. This is not a day to be outside talking. This is a day to be inside sucking on ice cubes. I have beginning to see why all the newspapers have been calling it Scorching August.

    However, today we are here to speak about a very important thing. Some would call it the most precious material over this Earth. This wealth is none other than water. Water is of paramount importance for the wealth of a nation, and water will be necessary for the well-being and the growth of California as united and strong.

    Water brings us together; it was in fresh valleys that civilisation began. Water allows us to grow crops, to build industries, to live in cities and form nations. Without water, there is nothing but devastation, poverty and death. I believe many in California still remember the dark days when droughts struck the nation; many Californians lived through them or are descendants of those who had to abandon their homes to try their luck here.

    California has had the bless of water, but that blessing has not been universal. While it is abundant in some places, it is quite lacking in others. While some counties have water to spare, others can barely get a drop. That imbalance, created by the forces of nature, has created greater imbalances in our society. There are two Californias, one rich and another one poor, one well-watered and the other one stricken with drought. But in our hearts, we know ourselves to still stand as one people and one State.

    It has been this fraternity among Californians that has given rise to many of the projects of solidarity towards our farmers. However, those same projects only mend a broken situation; more than provide sustenance, we must ensure all Californians are capable of providing for themselves. Our farmers need something much more precious than welfare pay checks – our farmers need water.

    That has been the work of our Governor, whose efforts have been towards starting great projects that have already brought water from regions with a healthy supply of it and brought it to regions that have a lack. Each year, the area of California with water supplied by aqueducts increases, and as the aqueducts go so goes agricultural land, industrial sites and cities, flourishing where once nothing was said to grow. That is nothing shorter than a miracle.

    You often hear of “Share Our Wealth” as a campaign slogan. That saying of course brings dissention, because the people who have to share their wealth to others feel cheated, while those who receive their wealth feel denigrated. And as, rather than provide security for the future, the welfare only gives temporary relief, nothing changes. It is clear such a system doesn’t work and will never work.

    To say “Share Our Wealth” is to be unaware of an important part of the way the world functions. The resources of this world are not a pie that can only feed a certain amount of people. Our wealth does not need to only be divided. It can be grown in size, invested upon so that more individuals may get an even larger slice than there was before. What we need is that. We need to create our wealth before we think about sharing it. And that is what I propose we do.

    Once California was a poor country. It was desertic and deserted, with few people living in this land, and those who did having little resources, for nothing flourished here. The forces of nature dictated that this land was to be forever poor. But then, civilisation came and with it came science, technology and the will of Man. All forces of Man were mustered and from this land a garden was created, capable of giving life to many great enterprises of Humanity.

    Man has shaped this land more than Nature ever did. Man created the routes on which to travel here, the ports that gave us trade, dug the mines that gave us wealth and tilled the soils that gave us food. And then, when water was lacking, Man brought water from where it existed in abundance.

    If we continue that work, the work of our forefathers, then the day will come when California knows no land that is deserted, and no field that is not cultivated, and no city that doesn’t thrive. If we continue to build the canals, the dams and the aqueducts, then we will continue to grow and prosper, to heights we had never before imagined.

    Pat Brown began the trek I speak of, and did a marvellous job at that. I will continue his work, and finish what he started, and more I will add upon his legacy and build more than he was able to. I will summon experts who will study, draw and build and create great things that will make this land the breadbasket of our continent.

    And now, if you excuse me, I would invite us all to come out of under the sun and go enjoy fresh water knowing that more is a-coming”

    The speech was widely popular and repeated through the following weeks, gaining Feynman a great degree of popularity among the still afflicted counties, but also among those which had been greatly helped by the water projects.

    Although Reagan was not at all opposing such projects, he simply did not focus too much attention on it, and, when confronted on the matter, he was less capable of answering the questions than Feynman was. The Professor also had the advantage of, when needed, bring actual engineers from a prestigious university to draw up and propose projects to help in specific local cases of water shortages. Many of the later water projects were inspired by those composed during the campaign trail.

    Water was a deep concern of many Californians, especially in the Southern areas. His speeches surrounding that topic gave Feynman their trust, despite the traditional affiliation with the Republican Party. By the end of Scorching August, Feynman returned home to find that his polls continued to improve, denting into Reagan’s numbers, much to the latter’s frustration.
    Chapter 11: reds vs blacks
  • reds vs blacks

    There was, of course, a major weakness of the entire Feynman campaign, one that strangely coincided rather well with his consultants had made the prime topic to be addressed by Reagan through his campaign. Feynman still stood shaky on the accusations of having collaborated or at least had ties with communist spies, while Reagan argued vehemently to an end to the welfare State, linking it, of course, to communism. It made a nice link of implying Feynman wanted, through his support of welfare, ultimately establish a Soviet-style regime in California.

    Feynman had faced such accusations on the part of Yorty before and had survived to tell the story. In fact, some stated that the Yorty campaign had given their investigative results over to Reagan’s. Earl Warren in particular was aware that, unlike the primaries, a clear response was needed for the charges not to be felt in November.

    The accusations came first in early August, as the Scorching August campaign became a media sensation and the Reagan numbers began to decline. The newspapers were informed of the investigations the FBI had conducted on Feynman and how they had deprived him of the Presidency of the Science Advisory Committee, supposedly due to his ties with communist spies. The tone became one of ‘the federal government is against giving Feynman power positions’ and it was quite effective in creating scandal. If Washington didn't trust him, should California empower him?

    The Feynman campaign dealt with this in three ways. Their first attempt at soothing the situation was to arrange a situation that had Vice-President Hubert Humphrey, whom Feynman had already indicated as a source of inspiration in his bid for governorship, have to travel to California, a situation probably arranged by Earl Warren, and had him agree to speak in Sacramento, with many State personalities including Warren and Feynman in attendance. The media was fast enough to take the bait and ask the question of whether he endorsed any particular candidate in the gubernatorial election.

    Despite not liking not even a little the trap he had fallen on, Humphrey contemplated his chances and quickly decided that, for better or worse, Feynman had tagged him into this campaign, and that having an ally in the position of Governor could be useful later on. Taking that into account, he fully endorsed the Professor, speaking highly of his consideration for his work both in science and government and stating he fully trusted his abilities to have the State well-managed and growing. He also vehemently denied that he was under suspicion by the Federal government, pointing out the work he had done for the United States at the Atoms for Peace Conference, calling any accusation of the sort “slander promoted by saboteurs and paranoid minds”.

    Although the endorsement did give some sense of credibility towards Feynman, especially in regards to his relationship with the federal government, it was far from enough to dispel the rumours that the Republicans continued to spread, creating virtual Red Scares across California. However, noticing how Eisenhower, who was a central piece in the controversy, having presided over the United States at the time of the alleged persecution, seemed quite uncomfortable talking about the events of the time, even when hounded around it by the media, the Feynman campaign announced a very special speaker in one of their rallies, Julius Robert Oppenheimer, at Berkeley. The renowned scientist was severely sick from throat cancer, but out of a deep sense of friendship towards Feynman, accepted to speak in the institute he had formerly lectured in.

    His speech was short and painful, and focused on the role of science in society, with only a brief appeal to empowering scientists and having Feynman as governor. It did not matter anyway; his endorsement was not what was sought (except perhaps by Feynman himself, who had a deep respect for the man).

    The intended result was accomplished, and that was to have the media focused on Oppenheimer’s story of persecution and redemption by honours of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, honouring him with the Enrico Fermi award, and with that go after Eisenhower for his now condemned oppression of the man and, by extension, by the parallel attempt at oppressing Feynman, thereby associating Oppenheimer’s redemption to his own. It was during the visit of Oppenheimer to California that Eisenhower said his famous “It was a mistake” reply when asked about the persecution of Oppenheimer conducted under his admnistration, that Oppenheimer left with an equally famous silence, before returning to Princeton and refusing to comment further on the matter, deeply embarassing the former President.

    The strategy, despite working perfectly, was also not as effective as had been hoped, with Reagan only been affected slightly. Therefore, a third strategy was sought. Now, there is some debate whether this was actually a plot from within the Feynman campaign, or rather a mere fortunate turn of events carried from outside groups that happened to coincide the needs of the campaign. Perhaps the truth lies in the middle.

    In any case, the third counter-attack against the “Red” accusation was essentially to throw a “Black” one in return. This refers to the accusations of parallelism to the Hollywood blacklist that, during the same years that Feynman alleged persecution took place, the film industry at Hollywood had been subjected to a strong censorship and ostracism by those accused to be aligned with communists, accusations which cost many entertainment professionals their careers due to forged accusations and simply due to political intolerance. Since 1962, when a court had decided that blacklisters were liable to account for professional and financial damage that was caused, the reign of terror had ended and by 1966 the ostracised professionals were back again at work, judged innocent by both the court of law and the court of public opinion, but never forgetting the wound caused to their career and reputation. And now that they saw the Reagan campaign crusade for the same cause that they had fought to rid themselves of, a movement erupted.

    It began with an uproar and the publishing of the “Manifesto of the Unsilenced Eleven”, that was soon turned to broadcast and radio by eager talented artists (and would later on serve to inspire several motion pictures of the same name). The eleven it referred to, beyond mocking the Reagan campaign’s Eleven commandment that effectively imposed a self-censoring over criticism within the Republic Party, also referred to its authors, the famed Hollywood Ten, whose refusal to answer before the House Un-American Activities Committee started the blacklist, and John Henry Faulk, the radio show host whose lawsuit had broken the blacklist. Of course, Samuel Ornitz, screenwriter and member of the Hollywood Ten, was not alive in 1966, having died in 1957, but he was nonetheless listed as an author of the Manifesto because, according to his colleagues, “it was also his story”.

    The Manifesto became a sensation, and the media quickly picked it up. It was especially interesting to them the irony of Reagan being broken by his own colleagues from Hollywood. In fact, the acting community quickly turned against Reagan, as the Manifesto became core material on the local ideology. The ten of the Eleven would often speak in Feynman rallies hence forward, endorsing him fully.

    Despite still somewhat distrustful of the actors of Hollywood, the flooding of the media with pro-Eleven messages, and that, as an actor himself, Reagan wasn’t excluded when statements starting with “All Hollywood actors are…” served to severely weaken his campaign. His response was also quite lacking, as none of his campaign had prepared for such a turn. A later speech accusing Hollywood of betrayal, stabbing him in the back and “being dominated by Reds still” did not help either. It was a gaffe, and a great one at that.

    In the end, this was perhaps the harshest battle of the entire campaign. Despite all foreign interventions, plots and careful narratives, the rising up of the Eleven is seen as being the defining point of the campaign, and the ultimate breaker of Ronald Reagan.
    Chapter 12: my work here is done
  • my work here is done

    As September came to an end, so did the vacation slot of the Supreme Court, which meant Chief Justice Earl Warren would be returning to Washington DC to carry out his official duties. A man who had been responsible for many of the successes of the Feynman campaign, many feared his absence could spell the end to the streak of victories that had come to them, especially as the momentous debate between the two candidates approached. Their clear lead still had time to see itself undone if they weren't cautious.

    Warren’s departure was mimicked by another less physical separation; Eisenhower seems to have fallen out with the Reagan campaign, or perhaps it was the other way around, after his infamous Oppenheimer reply that had only served to harm Reagan. After that incident, the visits of Ronald and Nancy Reagan to Palm Desert became less frequent and shorter until they ceased completely after a few weeks, around the same time Warren left for Washington.

    Eisenhower would spend his remaining time in California at his home, longing to return to Gettysburg, and not coming to speak in favour of Reagan, or to speak publicly at all, throughout his stay. Although never officially said, it was largely considered by the general public that his endorsement was void after this separation.

    This left both campaigns somewhat orphaned; the great figures that had served as the “institution seniors” had abandoned the still very green candidates, returning their campaigns to their virginal condition in political victory. This affected the Feynman campaign much more than the Reagan one; Warren was a much more vital string in the movement than Eisenhower had ever been. He also happened to be more irretrievable, faraway in Washington.

    Ultimately, their departure saw mostly stagnation more than anything. The greatest impact of Earl Warren was knowing what buttons to push to bring attention to themselves, and what doors to open to bring good settings in which to appear. Without him there to continue that work, and already having a healthy advantage on the polls, they attempted the least dangerous of moves – stalling.

    The Reagan campaign continued focusing on their old messages, no longer attracting the attention of the media, as the message was already widely known and freshness was the key for the medium. Their attention drifted away to the most recent celebrity scandal in Hollywood and some bizarre news at faraway country towns with strange ways and strange things.

    Stale October was the name later historians would give it (the media at the time was smart enough not to report on the lack of business to report about). It was strange that an election eve month, which was normally full of surprises and fierce struggles, was actually accomplishing a low point on election talks.

    This uneventful turn of events would only end when, on the 2th of November, just six days before the election, the two candidates finally came face to face on televised debate, a last final struggle before the people went out to vote. To both sides, this was a crucial moment – Reagan still hoped he could outwit Feynman, trapping him by means of rhetoric, and make a comeback, while Feynman understood it was needed to bring focus back to the campaign, so that the people he had on his side would actually go to the polls and vote. He had taken a great gamble and it was time to see it pay off.
    Chapter 13: the great debate
  • the great debate

    On the night of November 2, 1966, millions of Californians tuned in their televisions or radios for the opportunity to hear speaking the two contenders to be their Governor. The main appeal in this election was that neither candidate could be described as being political whatsoever. One was a Hollywood actor and the other was a Caltech professor. Neither were exactly the characters one would expect contending for one of the most important positions in the United States.

    The main question that the moderator felt needed to be answered was precisely around this factor. Being both inexperienced in political office, why should the people trust they held the skills for the position of Governor and that they should exercise them with competence and dignity.

    Feynman was the first to be questioned.

    “It is true. I am not a politician. I am a scientist. I am an educator. I am a father. But I am not a politician. And I hope I never become one. I believe that a scientific mind, a keen mind, a mind that seeks the truth and the solution to problems above all else, is the best of all possible minds one can have. I hope I never lose my sense of wonder and my persistence for answers, qualities that I deem have seen me advance in the scientific field above all others. For those are the same qualities that I hope will serve the Californian people, above all others.

    My cooperation with the government of California has been insignificant, compared to the power that the position of Governor conveys, so I understand your concern. I would not employ a man without knowing if he could do the assigned job. My record is on bringing education to a higher standard and on creating new solutions to problems. I hope to continue to fulfil that record. I will bring the State to a higher standard and I will create new solutions to the problems a Governor has to face. We will build things. California’s greatest achievements is on the universities, the schools, the roads and the water works it has built. Those have provided us wealth and progress, making us the face of both science and arts in these United States.

    I hope to continue that legacy. To answer your question, I would not say I am unexperienced. I am in fact quite experienced in all sorts of works I strive to accomplish. I just have a new way of looking at things, and that has been the quality that has always brought California forward. Thank you.”

    Reagan’s answer to the same question had a very different tone.

    “Mr. Feynman claims he is not a politician. He claims he will be different from our usual politicians, better than them. He is used to being the best. In the big leagues, the men of science, speaking about their strange equations, he is without a doubt a great man. But in the outside world, in this political world, he is neither great nor new, but a continuation of what has already been done.

    He says he will be a new kind of Governor, and yet through his campaign he has received nothing but endorsements of the old guard. Earl Warren and Pat Brown look at him not as a breath of fresh air, but as the keeper of the stale old one. He speaks of creating wealth by increasing government projects, but does not see that what is draining our wealth is the government, the welfare bums and the political lobbyists who occupy positions as a matter of backroom deals. He promises nothing around those people, for he intends to keep them. After all, those are the people who had him elected among the Democrats.

    I distance myself from any previous administration. I have seen their way of doing things and I don’t like it. In the last years, California has grown, and its most flourishing industry is the governmental one, employing more bandits and draining more money from hard-working Californians and their enterprises. In my tenure as Governor, I will see this trend inverted. I am a new man and I will do new things. And this State will prosper by them. Thank you very much for your support.”

    The second question was one that would also go on to inflame the debate, possibly the point of it being asked in the first place. As it was, both candidates had spoken about educational issues, if under different lights, with Feynman making it a key point of his campaign the improvement of education in the State and Reagan making it a key point of his to control and end the disturbances to higher education by the rioters at Berkeley. As it was, the moderator found the people should know what was each of their plans to deal with the campus riots.

    Reagan got to go first.

    “That is a very good question, one that worries many people around this State, and one I have had the opportunity to discuss with many of them throughout this campaign. As I have said many times before, as Governor I will make sure to be strict with those looters and clean up the mess at Berkeley in the way the Democratic administration has shown itself unable and unwilling to have done.

    Do you know what the problem with those students? They are spoiled. They are privileged. They are given the best education in the world, and they do not know to respect the people who give it to them. They disturb their teachers, their peers and the people whose work allows for them to be so educated. They don’t deserve the education they are getting, and they don’t have the right to take advantage of our system of education.

    What I find more contemptable, more disrespectful to the people of this State about this whole Berkeley mess, however, is the attitude of those responsible with keeping order in the campus. Or lack of attitude shall I say? Their leniency has only allowed this wound to fester, and has the rioters believe they can do anything with impunity. This cannot stand. Clark Kerr has proven himself unfit to serve as President of the University of California. There is only one sensible thing to do, and you can be damn sure I will sack him.

    These men, these professors, they have shown themselves incapable of seeing how things work in the real world. They have failed to act because they do not know how to handle this situations. They understand many things, I grant them that, but dealing with people, real people, that they cannot do. And neither can the current administration, for what they have proven in their unwillingness and inability to solve this problem. And I fear their new candidate is another one of the many who are powerless to solve this mess.”

    Feynman seemed quite unphased with the very direct insult hurled towards him. He smiled at the audience while preparing to speak, answering the same question.

    “As you can imagine, I have studied the problems at Berkeley very closely. As a professor at career and a student at heart, it is very close to me, what happens there. I know many of the people whose lives are in Berkeley and have been affected by the riots. To fix this crisis is something quite crucial to me.

    I have come to understand the issue at heart in Berkeley is a problem at communication. It is quite understandable. We academics have trouble making ourselves understood. But I have met with Professor Kerr several times, and I can say he is a good man. He is a fine administrator, an excellent one at that, recognized around the world, and a crucial piece on the overall reform of our educational system. His actions at Berkeley had one clear intention – to mediate and build bridges between protesters and the authorities. To create a space for peaceful dialogue.

    If there is something I love about California, is our dedication to free dialogue. It is what makes us great. Persecuted people have come here and flourished, be they pioneers, ranchers, farmers or even writers and actors like Mr. Reagan. California truly has fulfilled the destiny of the mother of exiles.

    That is because in California we believe in dialogue instead of suppression. We believe that two minds finding solutions together are better than the two fighting for supremacy. And that is what made us great. That is what made our people great. That is what made our education system, as Mr. Reagan called it, the best one in the world.

    The only indictment against Professor Karr is that he attempted to start a dialogue instead of suppressing the protests. For that most American of actions, he was persecuted as un-American, an unfair brand that many of great rank have already felt upon them.

    I wouldn’t say the students are spoiled. I have met many college students through my years, and I can attest their motives may be somewhat difficult to understand. Many stories ought to be told at a more appropriate time. Scientific minds are odd, but they are fruitful if allowed to grow. An unmatched example would be that of Professor Einstein, a man who we have all come to respect and admire. I had the privilege to meet him and let me tell you, if he were still among us, he would be one of those people Mr. Reagan called for repercussions against. And yet he was a genial man without whom our country would not be as great as it is, and to whom we owe a lot.

    To rampage against the students and faculty of Berkeley is to attack the heart of our science, the heart of our democracy. It is all I stand against. It is all California stands against. It is to send to waste our most precious resource – young minds that will shape the world.”

    The debate would have more questions and points being made. Most, however, saw in that back and forth the heart of the session, as the two candidates struggled to win over the hearts of California unto their stand in a very particular matter that had shaken the State.

    Most commentators would point to a Feynman victory. He had managed to hold his nerve, and to answer to the accusations being made by associating himself with the now popular victims of the past transgressions of the ardent blacklisters, with whom Reagan was deeply associated already.

    Only fate would say the answer, on election night, November 8, 1966.
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    Chapter 14: where roads end and begin
  • Two ballrooms were reserved in Los Angeles for the night of November 8, as each candidate had decided to end their campaigns in that city whose influence throughout the election had been crucial and whose support was sought by both.

    Feynman had originally intended not to throw an event for the night, preferring to be surprised by victory or face defeat in the warmth of his own home, surrounded by friends and family. Earl Warren put those fantasies to an end and made sure to bookmark the room himself, after studying it with his own eyes and afterwards preparing the catering services himself, through a number of phonecalls all the way from Washington.

    The polls seemed to favour Professor Feynman, however, throughout the night a climate of nervous expectation was felt in both ballrooms, as many Reagan supporters still hoped that a victory was attainable by means of what later would be known as a “silent majority”. A constituency built at heart by hard-line conservatives, they believed Feynman to be too liberal to win, when they didn’t deem him an outright communist, as had been popular among such circles.

    As silence was felt as news of the counting of votes began to surface, all of California held its breath for just a minute, only to have one of those ballrooms roar in victory. This was the ballroom containing the supporters of now Governor-elect Richard Feynman, who had emerged victorious over Ronald Reagan in the bid for Governor of California.

    The victory was, for lack of a better word, resounding, with almost four million Californians voting Democratic, while barely more than two million and one hundred thousand voted Republican, a victory not known since the days of Earl Warren, with 65% of the electorate voting for Feynman. Reagan managed to win Mono, Orange, Sutter, Calaveras and Butte Counties only, a disastrous defeat.

    Los Angeles followed a curiously similar percentage to the State result, with 65% of tis electorate voting for Feynman, a resemblance that approached the hundredth of percentage. There, Feynman received particularly the support of Hollywood and Watts, although most neighbourhoods were also predominantly Democratic in this election.

    Wilson Riles, attending the celebration, sitting in a prominent position as an honoured guest of Feynman and the Democratic Party, also received the good news of having been elected Superintendent of Public Instruction, albeit with a lesser margin than Feynman. The two would shake hands in the iconic photo Riles would keep in his office for the remainder of his career in public service, representing a partnership he would treasure through the rest of his life.

    The victory and ascension to governorship marked the beginning of the very prolific career of Professor Feynman in public service. He would be greeted warmly in Sacramento by his predecessor, who already saw himself as a mentor to the newly-arrived Governor-elect, while many political figures throughout the nation congratulated him for his rise, and many national newspapers spoke of the curious race that California had been.

    For Ronald Reagan’s prospects of political career, however, the defeat proved lethal. He and his conservative wing lost the credibility of the Republican Party, and soon their hold over criticism faded and from the ruins of the Reagan campaign a wing of Moderates came, blaming the conservative outlook of the campaign for its failure, while most commentators argued this was a tad bit unfair. Nevertheless, the conservative base that had been Reagan's machine would see itself primaried and voted out from elected office throughout the State in the next election cycles, as the shame of their defeat induced the Californian Republicans to look for greener pastures.

    In any case, Ronald and Nancy Reagan themselves would live out their retired life in peace, raising their family (and two Democrats children at that, ironically enough), refusing any further office to seek a new race to run, and making sure to stay faraway from the mess of pointing fingers the Californian Republican Party would become in the next few seasons. They would fade into blissful obscurity soon enough.

    For Richard Feynman, however, despite him not being quite aware of it at the time, the adventure had just began, as he prepared to set out to Sacramento and put himself to work on fulfilling the promises that had been made during the campaign trail.

    california 1966.png

    (just a small wikibox I did to represent the results; I've been wanting to train the graphic aspect of these timelines, tell me what you think)​
    BOOK I: To Learn and Teach: California, 1967-1971 - PART I: The Long, Hot First Year - Chapter 1: so Say Good-Bye
  • To Learn and Teach
    California, 1967-1971

    PART I

    1. so Say Good-Bye

    Around a year after having for the first time said out loud he should run for Governor of California, at the time still with a comedic tone, the newly-and-very-seriously Governor-elect of California, Professor Richard Feynman, was now in a frantic spirit, together with the rest of his family, as they prepared to move to the capital of California, the city of Sacramento.

    It was not, by any means, an easy task. They had lived in Altadena for years; they had made their house there, had their son there. They had ties with the community. The Feynmans were beloved, with the Professor being known as a very friendly man with a good sense of humour, and Gweneth was a pillar of the community, having been a driving force in the building of a library at the local elementary school and heading a local women’s choral group.

    Fortunately, the outgoing Governor Pat Brown was being more than helpful in their moving in to the Governor’s Mansion. He was quite friendly to the Professor, and seemed to want to be close with the new administration, being somewhat transparent in his attempt to remain an influence in State politics.

    They would keep the house; it was too painful to sell it, as they could not still think of this as anything less than a somewhat long sabbatical. To sell the house would have been to admit they were not returning, and that they were moving away from the community that had meant so much to them. They had enough to provide for that, fortunately.

    The Professor had to put his business in order at the University. His departure was bittersweet for his colleagues and students, who were saddened to see him go, as his lectures were quite popular and his friendship quite warm, but it still provided them a good opportunity to have good ties with the State government; Feynman was quite popular with the University boards in these last days, who provided for him to be quite celebrated. And, of course, he was approached quite often with drawn-over-the-knee proposals for projects and changes for him to pursue in Sacramento.

    He knew many engineers, and engineers tend to have grandiose ideas. And knowing his own ambitions, many projects for water management came forward. Feynman, quite occupied with moving his all life to a new career, politely smiled and gave them a contact to schedule a meeting when he was already Governor. It seemed meeting engineers would be his new hobby in Sacramento, which was nice as, for what he understood, the place was rather dull in comparison with Los Angeles.

    After a generous Christmas celebration in Altadena, surrounded by friends and family, the Feynman family departed on 26 December to Sacramento where, a week later, the inauguration of Richard Feynman as the 33rd Governor of California would take place
    Chapter 2: the Inauguration
  • 2. The Inauguration

    One can only imagine how alien it must have seemed for the until-then Professor and now also Governor Richard Feynman to stand before the crowd in Sacramento, surrounded by the political elite of the State of California, including his predecessor, the Senators and Assemblymen, and the members of his new executive.

    It was a sunny day, and the people seemed cheerful. To many, this seemed like a blow of fresh air, the innaugration of the 48 years old, meaning the youngest in more than half a century, professor, whose lack of political experience was seen as a bonus of having no burdens of compromise with the previous administrations, of being an outsider to the system. He was quite popular already, and his term hadn't even started.

    However, it is understandable that, despite this, he still felt uneasy at the prospect of speaking before this crowd. Although the campaign trails had taught him the fine arts of oratory that he hadn’t picked up already through academic experience, this was still his first speech as the leader of California. Perhaps the one that would define his legacy.

    “To a number of us here, myself included, but also, I am glad to say, of many of those standing here by my side, this is a first and, beyond solemn and momentous, rather awkward situation. To be frank, this great event we are taking part on, this transfer of power by the will of the people, amicably and cheerfully, is a wonderful thing.

    I am a physicist; we study the changes in the world. I have studied many interactions, many things coming together to form something new. My observations on that have given me the Nobel Prize. But I will have to admit that I had never witnessed such an extraordinary change in the world as the one we see today, as we stand here and see the will of the people be enforced. And, most incredibly of all, this is not an exception event; it is a quotidian one in this nation, and we see it in every decision of importance for the fate of the land.

    I can only imagine the sheer forces that must come into play to allow for this process, this change, to occur so neatly, at clock-ordained time, each time that it is necessary. That is the force of the American people, the force to never forgo the right to decide our own fate, and struggle to achieve it.

    Considering the power that the people of these United States have, the strength within us, one cannot doubt that, if we put our minds to it, nothing is impossible. We have put upon ourselves the task to fulfil great things, and the manifest of our ability to accomplish them is in this day and in all others day as this we have seen come and go and trust will happen for many more generations.

    The Constitution of our nation begins with the words, ‘We the people’. This is because it recognizes that only in the people can the power to enforce the laws it carries be found. It does not trust any subsect to rule the others; it mandates, as a condition for its enforcement, that all citizens gather to enforce it. If that isn't happen, true change within it isn't just systematically unjust; it is impossible to maintain in the short or long term.

    Therefore, while they say it was me who was empowered today, I do not feel more powerful than before. I must turn then to the true holders of power within this State, the people, and ask you to stand by me and work towards enforcing the great ideals we went to the polls to defend. Without the support and the work of the people, none of them will be fulfilled. With the support and the work of our citizens, however, I foresee no great difficulty in seeing them all accomplished.

    Working with engineers, I have learned that it is good conduct to present the program I am asking to be fulfilled. If we want to build a house, we should start by drawing the blueprints. Let us then roll up our sleeves and see what lies ahead.

    I have said it plenty of times and I will say it again: my absolute priority in this office is for education. The programs of the previous administration were a good start, lessening the effects of the continued expansion of the school going population. As our State continues to flourish, we will continue to increase the numbers of teachers and positions in our educational systems, to provide the necessary supervision needed, by opening new job offerings that will provide a meaningful source of employment for many capable Californians in educating our children.

    Each year we will be needing 20,000 new teachers, 6,000 new classrooms and have the facilities for 450,000 university students. This is so that our State not only is capable of providing for all its people, but that it is prepared to grow stronger and open for more people to arrive at its shores.

    It will also be an imperative to improve the quality of the education for each and every children. For that, I plan on sending for the State Curriculum Commission to have assembled the finest assortment of textbooks, focusing on the quality explaining concepts and in their focus on applications of knowledge, so that students can help to improve the conditions of our State from the start. The material that they have know is very deficient, and shall be replaced by better one, up to the high standards we set to ourselves and our government.

    Finally, we will make sure that no child is left behind, and that our education system is open for everyone, regardless of the condition of their birth. For that, we will continue efforts into bringing even those most disadvantage amongst ourselves to school; we are particularly concerned about those children who suffer from a physical or mental affliction and are therefore burdened in their education. We will ensure that they will no suffer more than necessary.

    We will also strengthen the federal school meal programs, see them enforced and reaching all, especially those who cannot afford it. Our food is the foundation of our health, and so we will see that the food supplied to our children is of the upmost quality and gives them the nutrition needed to grow strong and healthy, to become fine citizens of this State.

    Public education is a cornerstone of our democracy. It is important that we demand the best out of it. Without it, our rights are ephemeral and our prosperity will falter. We must protect it and encourage it to grow stronger. And that is what we will do in California.

    The second problem that comes with our growing population remains the same. Water. Governor Brown has seen the beginning of great projects that will bring water from where it exists in surplus to places that lack it. By this feat of human genius, we the people will make from barren ground rise the most fertile of lands. Great tracts of Californian desert shall become the new breadbasket of our State, if we see this projects through. And that is what we will do.

    Over the last months, I have had the opportunity to speak with local farmers, entrepreneurs and with engineers with great ideas. We have discussed what is needed and what can be done to fulfil the need. I was impressed with how much can be accomplished. Through the next years, more than complete the amazing work already in place, and improve it when needed, we will see more projects, that so far have proven such successes, come to light, and bring water to more Californian lands.

    As you can imagine, those two great pillars alone, education and water, will bring many jobs for Californians over the coming years. More than that, they will create a class of hard-working, capable workers that will make this State stand grand among the Union. But we will even go further in our pursuit of putting this land to work.

    California has always benefited from encouraging new bold ventures to settle in this land. Fifty years ago, Los Angeles was an oil outpost, not unlike many other now abandoned cities throughout America. Then, fleeing from persecution and seeking a new, more open home, filmmakers came and settled there. Today, thanks to that great migration, Los Angeles is the beating heart of culture in the West Coast, and of cinema worldwide.

    California reinvents itself and creates wealth where there was nothing before. What allows that to happens is a willingness to take bold steps and to put ourselves to work, to bring brilliant people to the field and have them build. We will strengthen our Agency for Economic Development to broaden their efforts to bring to our state businesses and ventures that need someone willing to trust them. We will increase private investments into creating new industries that will bring jobs and opportunities of growth to Californians.

    The Californian worker is the backbone of our economy and our democracy. To protect him and his valiant efforts towards the Californian dream, we will continue the policies of ensuring their rights, as workers and as consumers. We will continue our work with the unions, to make sure they represent their interests and are clean of all messes, and that they enable for the Californian worker to attain a higher standard of living so that they can bring an even greater strength into each day, promoting the idea of California as the place for the American worker and family.

    We will also continue our efforts to protect the consumers, a group to which all Californians belong, against fraud, racketeering and other vicious assaults. We will promote strong legislation to protect Californians from such problems and allow the law to dispose of them and take them off the streets. Our system will be especially focused on public education about these problems, so that the citizen can be attentive and know how to protect himself and report issues to the authorities, for no authority can be more effective than that of the people protecting itself.

    It also must be stated that our support to the Californian worker extends to all Californians, regardless of their race, creed, national origin or race. Our Constitution states that we are all equal before the law, and the law will not slander this fine remark. We will make sure the employers and the unions within this State do not dare turn away anyone for a reason beyond their capacities and merit. California shall be exemplary between the States as respecting the rights of every citizen.

    That being said, there are two very important things to ensure that the Californian worker is protected, far more than any legislation curbing the ability of their employers to abuse. Protection laws can be looped around, but decent income and proper social insurance will always serve to help any family in need and save them from abuse.

    Ours is an expanding economy, and an expanding currency. This means that, each year, what was once a living wage becomes slimmer and slimmer until it is no longer possible living under it. It is for this reason, this inflation of the costs of living, that ever so often the value of the minimum wage and the benefits paid at Social Security have to be increased; although the numbers are the same, the value of the money is lessened.

    It is a ridiculous fault of our laws that our workers have to wait for our legislatures to work so that they do not continue to lose wages when the economy improves. To keep this from happening, we propose to make it so that minimum wage laws and the benefits of Social Security are tagged to the value of inflation, so that what it represents is not a number alone, but the actual minimal to provide a workingman a decent livelihood.

    We should also continue the improvements of our welfare programs targeting the disabled citizens. To have a man burdened by a disability when something can be done to lift such burden is a stain for the reputation of such a fine State such as ours.

    Public health in general should be improved. There is no such a thing as too healthy of a people, and without proper care, the strength of a citizen is harmed by many problems. Air pollution continues to harm many Californians, something which we will see combated. Air pollution affects us all, city and countryside folk alike. With the help of research, we hope to give our automobile industry the ability to solve this problem by improving smog preventive mechanisms, research the State will make sure to incentivise. With the help of our engineers, the dream of a no-smog car can come to fruition sooner than we may even expect.

    Another great concern that the modern times have brought to public health is the dangers of atomic radiation. Having worked at the Manhattan Project, helping to build the first atomic bombs during the war, I have witnessed with my own eyes the power the atom has within. At the time, I found it an outstanding thing. Now, I look at it with more concerned eyes. Nuclear energy has proven to be a hazard and a risk to our health and to world peace. I have helped develop this technology, and so it is of the utmost importance to me not to see it used to cause further harm than it already has, and for it to be handled responsibly.

    Considering this, I hope that, soon enough, some of these goals can begin the road towards being accomplished, a path we began to trek this November. I have always had some distaste for great secrecy, even when they wanted me to work in secret projects during the war. I said I wanted to research science, and science is how the world works, and that is not secret.

    Government work shouldn’t be secret either. I said this back in the war too. It is the authority of the citizens that empowers the government, and it is impossible for the citizen to make an informed choice without information. The whole idea of democracy is that power lies in the public, and that the public should be informed. In secrecy, there isn’t information. In secrecy, there isn’t democracy.

    Therefore, I will uphold the principles of government openness as much as it is possible, so that our citizens can understand its inner workings. Government will be honest and will answer before its citizens, for that is the promise of democracy, that has made this country so great.

    Today, in this sunny day, I see a new start for a new California. A California of education and research, of growth and equality, of people coming together to improve the lives of all. I will do all within my power to fulfil that vision, the vision you elected to carry on in October.

    Let the warmth of this sun mark the entry unto an Age of Science.
    Chapter 3: the Powers that be
  • 3. the Powers that be

    The State government of California was thoroughly reformed in 1966. This was not only because of the ascension of Feynman to the Governorship; the effects were much further, and the State elections had been very peculiar.

    The Supreme Court of California had, during the previous mandate, changed the distribution of seats in the Californian Senate, reapportioning it to make them more demographically equal under the mantra of “one man, one vote”. This meant that the distribution of power for the Senate had changed greatly, bringing much greater gravity unto the voters of Southern California. It also meant that, for purposes of fulfilling this requirement, rather than the usual 20 seats, the entire 40 seats of the chamber were at play, including 20 incumbent-free and then 12 with multiple incumbents thrown together and now competing for the nomination.

    Those extraordinary conditions made it so that 211 candidates brought their names forward for Senator of California, four times the usual numbers, including many assemblymen who were vying for the more prestigious seat, which by itself had 29 of the 80 State Assembly seats without incumbent.

    In essence, the legislative elections were quite interesting, primaries and general votes alike, as many took this change of seats as their opportunity to rise, perhaps inspired by the two newcomers competing in the big leagues within the State. It was a time for renovation in California, in both executive and legislative positions. Neither party could be accused of fetid smell for these elections.

    On January 1967, as the session began, the State was thoroughly reinvented in terms of government.

    The California State Legislature divided itself between the California State Assembly and the California State Senate. The Assembly, despite not being directly affected by the reapportionment changes, was still quite changed. A separate ballot, they were nonetheless subject to the tides of popularity of the candidates for Governor, with whom the people associated the image and platform of the Party as a whole. In this election, that meant that the Feynman campaign contributed to keep the Democratic lead in the State.

    In the State Assembly, the Democrats lost three seats, leaving them with 46 against the Republican’s 34, with the Democrats having 57,5% of the seats in the Assembly, short of a supermajority but still being quite strong. This meant that the Speaker of the California State Assembly, Jesse Marvin Unruh, one of the most powerful Californian politicians, remained at his position. Most observers immediately predicted that the sour relationship between Governor Brown and him would now translate to Feynman.

    The Senate saw its composition change dramatically, in turn coinciding with a sharper turn from the Democratic Party, as the Republicans had greater influence among the now better-represented areas, which saw their new greater standing as being due to the Party’s efforts. Even so, with 22 Senators against 18, the Democrats maintained the majority with 55% of that chamber on their hands. The Senate was presided by the Lieutenant Governor of California, who was hitherto Supreme Court of California Justice and former Californian Attorney General Stanley Musk.

    Although they had endorsed each other, met and got along well enough, Feynman and Musk weren’t quite close; since the two offices ran separate tickets, this didn’t matter greatly and throughout their tenure the two men would have neither great problems nor great joint victories. Musk would focus himself on presiding the Senate, where he worked towards preserving the constitutionality of laws passed by the Senate and devoting his projects to civil rights legislation, especially attentive to keep them within constitutional bounds, and curbing the growth of conservatism.

    The legislative power was, therefore, quite in the hands of the Democrats, despite there being some tensions between the old and new guards, which would reflect in the relationship between Unruh and Feynman. However, such tensions were also felt among the Republicans, whose old guard members, many of them moderates or even progressives, had to handle their fellow-party ultraconservatives that had popped up inspired by Reagan and had occasionally been elected, unlike their leader. This balance of discord gave space for the Feynman administration to work, pitting them against each other as needed.

    Regarding the Californian Supreme Court, with Stanley Musk’s withdrawal to become Lieutenant Governor, it was currently one member short. Its Chief Justice, Roger Traynor, was a figure nationally admired for his talents on justice, being recognized as one of the greatest judges in American history, and being an avid opinion writer, being influential throughout the United States. He was also very liberal in inclinations, and it seemed he and the new Governor got along quite well. Besides Traynor, four other Justices were believed to be supportive of Feynman’s platform, with only one, Marshall McComb, being believed to be a potential opponent. With the empty slot to be appointed by Feynman, this made the Supreme Court of California effectively an ally.

    Regarding the executive branch, the Superintendent of Public Instruction was the de facto Feynman appointed Wilson Riles, the first African-American to hold state-wide position, and who was, of course, thoroughly aligned with the Feynman platform on education. For Attorney-General, Thomas C. Lynch was re-elected, a man whose main interests were around improving law enforcement, especially in regards to narcotics, and a fierce environmentalist with concern towards water rights. He and Feynman would coexist quite peacefully.

    A strange partnership emerged with the Secretary of State, the re-elected officer Frank M. Jordan, an old veteran who happened to be a Republican within a Democratic administration, being so ever since the days of Pat Brown. His victory would be slim but real against the Democratic candidate, and what some had though would be a thorn in the administration became quite the contrary as Jordan called the attention of Feynman to his earlier efforts to establish state-wide machine voting and vote-by-mail. He had taken an interest into this question after the delayed results of the 1960 elections, and ever since had been a champion for those modernising techniques. Jordan would find in Feynman a new ally towards achieving those goals, which would become one of the landmarks of that governorship.

    The State Controller election was won by Democrat Ronald B. Cameron, who had served for two terms in the House of Representatives in Washington DC before returning home to California. He was a very ambitious man, whose career in national office had left him wanting for more in public service.

    In January 1967, Sacramento inaugurated a new government. The State Legislature was greatly changed, both in representation and in the representatives themselves, and the Executive too had several newcomers who had to handle the old guard as they prepared to see the platforms that had seen them elected go through.

    It was a challenge, yes, but one worth pursuing.
    Chapter 4: a Welcome Surprise
  • a Welcome Surprise

    The first major surprise the Feynman administration would find upon arriving to power was that the State of California, so plentiful it was, was facing a major financial crisis, comparable only to the Great Depression, as the State government faced a deficit of one million dollars each day, mounting up to a looming crisis that the Brown administration had left for the new governor, whoever that might be, to handle.

    Of course, this deficit issue was quite problematic to allow the campaign promises of improving the conditions and the projects of several Californian institutions, from education to water works.

    The first instinct of Feynman was to look into the spending of the former administration, where he found some questionable costs that he set out to clean. He sold the Governor’s state-owned airplane and cut by a great degree out-of-state travels by state employees, deeming both extravagant expenses that could be easily be done without. He also took measures to keep the purchase of new cars for State officials at a low, although he did not, as was suggested by the State’s accountants, stop the construction projects, as they had been a major point in his platform.

    The first months of office were a constant struggle between Feynman and the more pragmatic and overall trimmer-happy officers of the executive, who battled for slashing the funds of several government programs that Feynman saw as too sacred to interfere with.

    The greatest battle of that Sacramento war was the university system that with 10 universities, 19 state colleges, 85 junior colleges and, overall, with a counter-cultural trend that had upset enough Californians to give Reagan a platform to begin with, was a prime target for trimming costs. It was large, expensive and, at the moment, somewhat unpopular among a great number of Californians. However, it also happened to be the ‘home district’ of Governor Feynman, his constituency, one of the groups he had pledged himself towards and, perhaps more important in the mind of the still-fresh governor, the home of many of his friends. He was vehemently opposed to the stalking that was taking place.

    The pursuers of this policy wanted Feynman to insist on a fifteen percent cut to the costs of the university, which they stated would help balance the budget without causing actual harm to its programs. He refused to allow himself to be used as a voice for such proposal, but it still continued to gain power within his cabinet.

    What most offended Feynman and also University of California’s President Clark Kerr, whom Feynman had stood out to defend during the campaign, was the proposal of instituting a tuition for the University, with the idea of having it cover its own costs. This went against both their principles as scientists and pursuers of merit, and to the classic Democratic principles of Great Society, that saw it a duty to give students a free education.

    The fierce resistance of both Feynman and Kerr, who both threatened to resign if such talks continued, were enough to keep the University unharmed, a feat that cost Feynman dear in the polls (although, being early in his term, it wouldn’t affect him much later on). Tuition would not be instituted.

    Despite that, the core issue remained as California, despite the cuttings (and lack thereof) remained with a pressing budget deficit. Feynman had no choice but to propose an extraordinarily high tax raise, which was thoroughly criticised by the Republicans in the State Legislature, but passed nonetheless. It increased taxes on sales, personal income, banks and corporations, insurance companies, liquor and cigarettes. It was the largest tax hike ever proposed in California, which did not help the public opinion to forgive Feynman either, at least at the beginning.

    The first contact between Governor Feynman and actual governorship was not pleasant by any means. He inherited a very bad situation and handled it with as much grace as possible, solving the problem while keeping true to his principles and electoral promises. With time, and as the economy healed, his popularity would rise again among the people, and his leeway to actually focus on matters more interesting to him than counting dollars increased.
    Chapter 5: of Lives and Choices
  • of Lives and Choices

    Another important political issue of 1967 was regarding the debate on abortion. Since the early 60s, the national pro-choice movement had been on the rise, with women’s rights groups pushing for the liberalisation of the harsh laws in place and often even operating underground clinics, leaving many in peril as, in the pursuit of illegal abortions, the women endangered their own lives.

    This movement was gaining great strength, despite the fierce opposition of the pro-life movements, the most powerful of which emerged from no other place than the Catholic Church, whose groups campaigned fiercely towards keeping any liberalisation attempts at bay for fear it would be used with too much leniency and effectively become a contraceptive method.

    On April 25, 1967, the State of Colorado made History by passing the first legislation decriminalising abortion in the United States, breaking the first window in that pro-life, pro-choice war; this law extended the conditions for abortion from endangering the mother’s life to include threats to the woman’s physical and mental health, birth defects of the child or cases of rape or incest, while many of those against the law accused it of being easily taken advantage of by those who did not meet the criteria but could pose as such. This inspired many pro-choice groups across the United States to seek action from their own legislatures to see similar measures passed.

    North Carolina would become the second State to enact such laws, with very similar wording to that of the Colorado one; surprisingly, there was no great uproar around this law, possibly due to the low numbers of Catholics in the State, having the lowest percentage of any State at the time; this only encouraged pro-choice groups to pursue such policies.

    The next battleground was none other than the State of California; the Catholic Church was a more powerful influence there, but so were the women rights’ and progressive groups, who, together with some Protestant leaders among the Republicans even, were able to pass a similar law to those of Colorado and North Carolina, while lacking the clause for birth defects.

    The extraordinary fact of the Californian Therapeutic Abortion Act, however, was California’s statutory definition of “mental health” that left much to the interpretation. Many feared this would allow for private hospitals to be liberal in what they deemed “healthy” and allow abortions for that clause with ease, while the more law-abiding and conservative public hospitals would not grant them, thereby creating a socio-economic distinction on abortion access.

    After passing the test of the Legislature, the procedure demanded that Governor Feynman sign in into law or instead send it back for review by means of vetoing it, an action that would have jeopardised its future, as a supermajority would have been required to see it through.

    Feynman’s position on the matter was between being pro-choice and, more sincerely, not caring too much about the matter personally. He couldn’t say he had never thought about the theme, especially as, a decade earlier, he had been conned into paying for a non-existing but supposedly illegal abortion for a former girlfriend, who had already taken his Albert Einstein Award gold medal as a prize. He remembered how it hadn’t been exactly a small sum he had had to pay for the fictional procedure, which made him sympathise with the women seeking its liberalisation and public health status.

    In the end, considering his approval was following what seemed to be a rising trend and the will of the Legislature, and that going against all this, resisting the decriminalisation, made him a hypocrite, Feynman would sign the act into law, an action that was later validated in the famous Roe vs. Wade that saw such laxation of the abortion laws become national policy.

    The law’s ultimate effects were those feared by its rivals – its mental health provisions were liberally interpreted by any hospital with a monetary incentive to do so and so did many public hospitals, as the policy became for leniency in allowing such operations to carry on. Around 200,000 legal abortions were carried out the following year, a substantial rise from the 518 legal abortions carried before the law was passed.

    Despite this, the popularity of Governor Feynman wasn’t quite affected or helped by this; he had followed protocol and approved an already popular, if controversial, measure that was reigning in the Zeitgeist of America. His seemingly divestment from the matter would make it of very little relevance towards the public opinion of his position. While dealing with this question, more important matters concerned Feynman.
    Chapter 6: the Summer of Love
  • the Summer of Love

    The next challenge set for the Californian Governor would be on fulfilling his campaign of finding a peaceful solution to the riots that tore Californian and, at a national level, American society apart, as the counterculture and civil rights movements became stronger and more capable of exerting pressure over traditional society.

    The summer of 1967 would be a special time in regards to this. Both the ‘long, hot summer’ of civil rights and the ‘summer of love’ of the hippie culture would happen through the nation, bringing with them an both an upheaval and a backlash as the various sects of increasingly polarised American society became increasingly more aggressive towards one another.

    Beginning in June, great riots would erupt throughout the nation, from Atlanta to Boston, from Buffalo to Tampa. The bloodiest events in that summer were in Newark and then in Detroit, a week apart from each other, as the African American communities, wearied with the disenfranchisement and violence directed towards them, not just in the old South, but really through the entire country, rose up and rioted against the injustices they suffered. In New Jersey the National Guard had had to be called, arresting thousands and adding to the body count already stacked up in the fighting between civilians and police. Detroit, however, would prove to be the bloodiest battle, with Governor of Michigan, Republican George Romney, sending in the National Guard, that yet failed to contain the situation until the President of the United States, after much dithering and pressures from both sides, felt compelled to send federal military forces in to crush the rioters. Tanks and soldiers manned with machine guns stood against the African American rioters, beating them to submission, images being broadcasted of the city burning, with tanks and machine guns fighting on the streets, as Americans tried to grip this wasn't some faraway nation, but their own country. The riot spread and two dozen cities would rise up alongside Detroit. In that city alone, more than 7,200 people were arrested.

    In California, the heat had already begun even before Summer came. On May 2, two dozen armed members of the Black Panthers Party stormed into the California State Capitol while it was in session, causing an uproar throughout the nation. Feynman quickly became involved in the case to the highest degree as he was found hosting a group of eighth-graders at the Capitol Lawn, enthusiastically going about explaining them a concept of Physics and making them laugh in the process, as he was keen to do. Suddenly, they found themselves amidst a major security hazard as armed men stormed the Capitol.

    Despite his security’s fierce push to take him inside for safety, Governor Feynman insisted on greeting the armed men who could not be disarmed by the security forces since they were not technically breaking any laws, having no concealed weapons on them. Although tightly guarded by his security, the Governor shook hands with some of the Black Panthers members and showed himself available to listen to their demands and answer them cordially. Although he couldn’t dissuade them from laying down their weapons, the protest didn’t harm anyone and the protesters left the building, if not quietly, at least feeling somewhat victorious. Although there were mixed reactions, the testament of his courage and the idea of him being there protecting the schoolchildren gave Feynman a boost of popularity as the true days of the Summer began.

    The Summer of Love was, regardless of its name, a year-long event that dominated San Francisco through 1967, and spread throughout the world. It was the apogee of the hippie culture, with 100,000 adepts of the movement coming together in the neighbourhood of Haight-Ashbury. A Council had been organised to assist what was the unsustainable number of people going into the area, the Council of the Summer of Love, manned by local activitists who propped up a Free Store and a Free Clinic to assist the visitors, but still lacking many resources to provide adequate service to the massive incoming crowds.

    It was a horde of drug-consuming, government-antagonising, anti-consumerist left-wing radicals, whose previous lesser activities had already caused the conservative backlash that had seen men as Goldwater or Reagan nearly elected. Now that a massive, unmanageable mass had effectively taken over a neighbourhood of San Francisco, this ‘hippie threat’ had become a reality in the minds of many. And there were similar bouts around the world. In Los Angeles alone 4000 people had massed by late April, in Monterey 60,000 people had gathered for the pop festival hosted there. In Manhattan, it was predicted 50,000 hippies would enter the city for the summer, and there were also festivals promoted through England.

    In essence, it was a very large event that had turned the already antagonised college students into fully despised hippies, on the eyes of the conservative movement that is. The number of young people associating themselves to the movement grew greatly over the summer, confirming the conservative fears that spread like wildfire in the American household. Surprisingly, the movement, while being extremely pacifist and openly outspoken against the Vietnam War and militarism in general, attracted many military personnel from nearby bases, who would attend the festival in great numbers.

    The counter-culture movement concerned those who were, to say the least, ingrained with the current culture, the mainstream politicians and the common citizens who saw their movement as foreign and as against the patriotic values they embraced. Although not as persecuting as the McCarthyites had been, there were many who frowned on the political behaviour they deemed ‘un-American’.

    It was around that particular controversy that Governor Feynman was dragged in to the problems surrounding the Summer of Love. A liberal Governor with ties to the student community, the civil rights movement and a penchant to speak for them, he was quite popular among the hippie community, considering their general distaste for government. This admiration made him suspicious to the growing conservative motherland, whose ranks had not been among his voters last fall.

    Those tensions boiled over when scandal appeared – Governor Feynman’s signature was found among that of other known American intellectuals and artists of world renown endorsing an anti-war advertisement by the radical British political activist Margaret Gardiner in The Times.

    They had been changing correspondence since early May, at which point Feynman, who until then although attentive to reportages was not fully aware of the Vietnam War developments, began researching and asking questions on the matter. His interest peaked with the contact with Gardiner, he spent a great part of his off-duty times in late spring and early summer studying the war thoroughly, reading many books on the subject and exchanging correspondence with authors and journalists on the matter.

    Although most assumed Feynman would be mildly against the war, as proper of his stand in politics, his standing with the radical wing was a surprise that, combined with the accusations of cooperation with the hippies, made Feynman an attractive scandal for the media.

    Although at first he resisted answering the questions being posed by the media, making him seem as a communist sympathiser and a pacifist, by the end of August he spoke before the press in Sacramento, as the exacerbation of drug usage among the festival goers and the deaths and violence associated with it were marking the beginning of the end for the Summer of Love.

    “There has been a lot of talk the last few weeks about where it is I stand on the war being fought on Vietnam. It is my fault. I did sign the articles by Ms. Gardiner in The Times, where she explained her position, backed by myself and other prominent Americans. I endorsed them then and I endorse them now.

    That is not to say my position hasn’t changed. When I first received a letter from Ms. Gardiner asking me to endorse her project, I must confess that, like many of Americans, I was not fully aware of what is happening in Vietnam. I knew there is a war. I knew that young Americans, students of mine, sons of friends and family, were going there to fight. I knew some people were very against the idea of sending our young people there to fight. And I knew that there was no end in sight for this war.

    That is not enough. As a scientist, as a professor I can tell you that, if one of my students defended a theory with only that knowledge, I would fail him and discredit him. I thought of answering Ms. Gardiner in that manner but, as a citizen and as a Governor, I found it my duty to be informed and take a stand on a position that matters so much, since it deals with the lives of our youth.

    Thankfully, I found available to me the finest resources to make my research. There were many documents that enlightened my ignorant spirit around the nuances of the war and, more importantly, there were many kind and candid people who dared to help me in this quest. Some in California, some in Washington and I even had the pleasure of speaking with men stationed in Saigon.

    It was after my research that I decided to sign the letter Ms. Gardiner meant to publish. And I hope I can read it out loud so that it is clear that I endorse this view and no other.

    «We, citizens of the United States, who are deeply concerned over the war in Vietnam, wish to put it on record that we do not subscribe to the official view of our country and of yours, that Hanoi alone blocks the path to negotiations. On the contrary, there is considerable evidence which has been presented to our Government but which has never been answered by them, to show that escalation of the war by the United States has repeatedly destroyed the possibilities for negotiation.

    We assure you that any expression of your horror of this shameful war – a war which is destroying those very values it claims to uphold – ought not to be regarded as anti-American but, rather, as support for that American which we love and of which we are proud. »

    It is my belief that, in the strategy employed by our military, the possibilities for peace, which should be paramount, have been set aside for military convenience. As Americans, it is our duty to ensure that our nation pursues the establishment of peace, order and liberty in the world as ends to wage war upon. Otherwise, we are belligerent and betraying the very same qualities that have our families support our nation.

    But, above all, it is my belief that to question the course of these actions and to ask for a strategy that has a peaceful end in sight for the war is not, as some of our more belligerent citizens claim, against the principles of the United States, but in their favour and that to uphold a will towards resolution is not, as they claim, anti-American, but that the very opposite is true and that the blind belligerency those citizens proclaim goes against the values we hold dearest.

    It is in the best interests of America and of our fighting youth that a dialogue is kept open with Hanoi so that peace may be established as soon as possible and to have them return with the laurels of victory. It is more important yet to keep a dialogue open in America, and that no citizen is kept from talking or accused of treason when giving his constitutionally-protected opinion on the course our country should take.

    Thank you.”

    The speech was cordial but strong on its stand. While many disagreed with his approach, and continued to accuse him of treasonous activity, the fact was that the majority of Californians and Americans was satisfied with the clearing up of what was meant by the articles.

    At that point, the scales were changing and already a great quantity of Americans believed that it was a mistake to remain involved in Vietnam. To them, the message of Feynman did no offence and actually helped strengthen their views. To those who still believed in the war, the vast majority could find solace in the cordial notes of the approach, while those less willing to do so, the true hawks, were already unfriendly to Feynman and his more liberal agenda.

    Ultimately, the Summer of Love was a tiring but fruitful affair for Feynman whom, unbeknownst to him, had given his fist steps unto national and international politics by becoming a faint but nonetheless beacon for debate around the Vietnam War question.