It’s been over 20 years since Texan billionaire businessman ROSS PEROT took the US by storm, giving George Bush 1 and Bill Clinton a real scare in the 1992 election when he garnered 19 percent of the vote – more than any third party candidate in history. Though running as the ‘reform’party, Perot was basically a conservative and, combined with Bush’s conservative votes, they received over 50 percent of the popular vote; thereby, Perot siphoned off votes from Bush and, ironically, probably handed the 1992 election to the liberal Clinton.
But Perot was a real presence, not afraid to speak his mind, regardless of the political consequences.
Running largely on tax reform, Perot won over many dissatisfied conventional two party system.
It’s surprising to us that, considering the even greater dissatisfaction with goverment today that we haven’t seen others attempt to run on a third party platform – unless one considers the Tea Party
that third party, though it is solidly Republican.
Today, Ross Perot is largely a forgotten man. Now 82 and still a vibrant businessman, Perot is unknown to most people under 40 and if they did remember him they would likely write him off immediately for his unconventional ways and folksy, Southern drawal in an era which is supposed to be more open and transparent in the past -but is probably just the opposite. The media likely has no use for a man who some say went ‘foo far’with his extreme views and eccentric chalk-board presentations and outright blunders ( such as bringing aboard the non-political, less-than-articulate General Stockdale as his Vice Presidential candidate).
But you had to admire Perot for speaking his true mind at the risk of alienating many -which he would later do in spades – and the result was a reversal of a short-lived love affair with a goo d share of the nation – and even some of the media. When he ran for president in 1992, the national debt was about $4 trillion with a then-gigantic deficit of $290 billion. Currently the debt is just over $16 billion and the deficit in excess of $1 trillion.
A younger and more ‘charming’ Perot might ‘sell’ today, but it will probably have to come in the form of a Rand Paul or Ted Cruz, two Tea Party-leaning likely presidential candidates. Judging by his reclusive ways of late – and his age, though that should really not be factor – it is doubtful that Perot won’t pull a ‘Harold Stassen’ for you younger folks.
So, what’s Perot up to today? We haven’t heard a peep out of him in years, although he
did grant a rare political interview to USA Today in 2012 – and we have some excerpts of that interview here. We thought such a presence from not that many years ago – who could have some interesting comments about today’s politics , shouldn’t be forgotten. Like him or not,
he was a presence in the ’90s and likely affected history.
As you might expect, Perot is pretty down on today’s government and administration and especially the way the budget has been handled. Though he doesn’t name names in this interview one does get a glimpse into the outspoken, likeable curmudgeon who probably wouldn’t have a chance today, anyway, in a totally different world than even 1996 – a society run largely on digital and social media. A 62-yeare-old Perot today would likely be right in the frey, going after President Obama on multiple issues, though it’s hard to say whether his dated style and look would go over – or even be regarded by today’s younger, left-leaning media.
From the USA Today interview by Mark Whittington in 2012, the questions in bold and Perot’s answers are in regular type, as follows:
The debt is an even bigger issue in 2012 as it was in 1992
Most of Perot’s thoughts turned to the national debt and the annual federal deficit in the USA Today interview. When he ran for president in 1992, the national debt was about $4 trillion with a then-gigantic deficit of $290 billion. Currently the debt is just over $16 billion and the deficit in excess of $1 trillion. Perot feels vindicated for sounding the alarm about the debt 20 years ago but he is naturally not happy about it.
The United States could be “taken over”
Perot is so concerned about the effects of the persistent and ballooning debt that he is afraid that the United States could be “taken over” by some other nation, taking advantage of America’s fiscal weakness, the USA Today piece mentions.
Perot muses about other issues
There are other issues that concern Perot, according to USA Today, including the state of education in America and the tendency of the news media to concentrate on the trivial and ignore the important (like the debt.)
Perot on the tea party
Perot is largely approving of the tea party movement, though he doesn’t think it’s the solution to the debt problem, according to USA Today. He does think that the tea party helps to wake politicians up and raises public concern.
Perot’s political career enabled Bill Clinton’s
When he ran for president in 1992, Perot garnered 19 percent of the vote, according to an analysis of Perot’s effect on national elections by political blogger Kevin Willis. Willis believes that Perot handed the 1992 election to Bill Clinton by siphoning off votes from then-President George H. W. Bush. Willis even believes that there is a case that Bob Dole might have won in 1996 without the third-party run by Perot in that year that got 8 percent of the vote.
Perot build his fortune partly on government contracts
Perot made his fortune in the 1960s by creating a company called Electronic Data Systems. EDS provided high end data processing services that included hardware and staffs of programmers and system analysts to create software systems, according to a history of the company by Funding Universe. Ironically, for a man who would later be concerned about the debt, EDS won contracts to computerize the claims processing systems for Medicare and Medicaid, two government programs that were started in the 1960s as part of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. At one point, helping to run the two largest entitlement programs in the federal government provided 25 percent of EDS’s revenues. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the percentage of the federal budget eaten up by Medicare, Medicare, and CHIP, a children’s health care program, was 21 percent of the budget in 2011, or $769 billion in FY 2011.
Perot’s future plans
At age 82, Perot does not have any plans to run for political office again and he has not endorsed any candidates, according to USA Today. His autobiography is forthcoming.
Where’s ROSS PEROT ? Could He Be A Third Party Presence Today?
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