I tell the students here at the Panetta Institute: “You may face this decision, which is a decision between whether you do what you believe is right — whether you do something that abides by your conscience — or whether you make the decision that you’re not going to abide by what’s right because you can advance your career.” A pretty fundamental decision that I think a lot of people have to face, and you have to decide, “What course do I take?”
I remember talking to my wife about that, that I was worried that I was getting a lot of pressure, and I didn’t know whether it was going to result in my getting fired or whether I should capitulate. And I made the basic decision, “No, I’m going to stick to what I think is right. I worked on this legislation. I believe it’s right. I’ve got to do what’s right.” Now, part of that is the Jesuits at Santa Clara, who taught me about right and wrong. But part of it was just that gut feeling.
I remember Tom Kuchel saying to me when I first went back as a legislative assistant — he brought me into the room, and we were just a couple of us. And he said, “You guys are going to be tempted. Understand that. This town tries to go at you to try to impact on my vote. But I want you to remember that we’re here to protect the rights of the American people and the rights of the people of California. And I also want you to remember one thing: when you get up in the morning, you have to look at yourself in the mirror.”