California Governor Jerry Brown, during a visit to Austin, issued a dire warning for the near future. “The population is segmenting: we’re going from unum to plurality. It’s a dangerous time.”
Brown, who studied Latin, used the word unum “one” from the motto of the United States, e pluribus unum. At age 80 he is well aware of other times when America was going through what he describes as today’s “very turbulent times.” Back in 1960, President Truman said the country was experiencing the most divisive time since the Civil War. “He saw civil rights as that division,” Brown explained in a conversation with LBJ Foundation president Mark Updegrove.
For Brown the overriding concern is the nuclear issue. “Within a year there may be no formal nuclear treaty with Russia. Nobody is talking about it. What the media has to report is the breakdown in communications. It hasn’t been this bad since the Kennedy Administration.”
Brown emphasized that the “top priority of the President is to keep us safe. He can’t keep us safe in a treaty-free nuclear arms race.”
Even though he is Governor of only one state, California has an economy that eclipses that of many countries, which gives Brown a platform to take a statesmanlike approach to world affairs. “I like to deal with the big stuff. There’s nothing bigger than nuclear annihilation of the human race.” Addressing the audience at the LBJ Presidential Library, Brown said “I don’t want you to go home feeling bad, but I don’t want you to go home feeling confident.”
On the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I in November 1918, Brown said that war “proved that well-educated Christians can do really stupid things. With our powerful technology, the stakes are getting higher. More and more power is created but human wisdom is flat.”
While there are many other worthy and urgent causes to address and hopefully solve, Brown said they all must take second place to the nuclear threat. “First, we have to stay alive,” he declared.