California’s Self-Esteem Commission Was Not a Joke

The Task Force Created by Late State Legislator John Vasconcellos Was a True Bipartisan Effort to Solve Big Problems

Last week, former California state legislator John Vasconcellos passed away at the age of 82. Obituaries described him as a “colorful Democrat” and a “champion of self-esteem.”

The latter is a reference to the California Task Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and Social Responsibility, which Vasconcellos created via legislation in 1986. Cartoonist Garry Trudeau placed the task force in the public eye, lampooning it in his Doonesbury comic strip as the embodiment of California wackiness.

The task force, which operated from 1987 to 1990, was a serious enterprise. It looked at …