With Charles Manson Gone, California Needs a New Villain

An Archetypal Bad Guy Could Unify the Golden State. Here Are Some Contenders.

It’s hard to find a villain who can bring Californians together these days.

That—more than any other factor—is why Charlie Manson’s death produced so many remembrances in California media. Manson was a murderer, but he also represented the time, a half-century ago, when people had enough in common to share certain experiences—like fear of the crazed killers of the Manson Family.

Today, it’s difficult to think of a villain we all have in common. Politically, we’re too polarized to agree on who is the bad guy. Academically, we’ve discredited the notion of …

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