James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne.
In next month's election, Jerry Brown is seeking a fourth term as California's governor and public support for his plan for a north-south bullet train to transform travel in a car-dependent state. Here is more of what's at stake.