‘What’s Past Is Prologue’ (Shakespeare)

Here’s another entry about politics from my 1992 personal journal. I had been volunteering in Paul Tsongas’s presidential campaign for about a year when he suspended his campaign for the Democratic nomination on March 19 for lack of capacity to keep battling Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas. Paul had won eight primaries and caucuses in the process, including New Hampshire. (Former California governor Jerry Brown hung on through the later primary elections, eventually winning six against Clinton.) But Clinton surged in Super Tuesday states and had prevailed in the money primary and among the media analysts. However, for the general election there was another candidate in the running: billionaire businessman Ross Perot of Texas, who campaigned as an independent. Opinion polls in early summer showed him ahead when pitted against Clinton and Pres. George H. W. Bush. He would win nearly 20 percent of the vote (but no electoral college votes) in the November election. Clinton in the end gained only 43 percent of the popular vote and 370 electoral votes to G. H W. Bush’s 37.5 percent of the popular vote and 168 electoral votes. Wondering about Perot, I wrote the following in June, 1992. Looking at the entry now, Perot seems to be a forecast of Trump, 24 years later. — PM

Why Ross Perot Has Taken Root. Pick a Reason. (6/9/1992)

  1. Reasonable people don’t want a president who arrives damaged in a campaign marked by sex, lies, and videotaped attack ads.
  2. The Reagan-Bush administrations stretched to the snapping point people’s willingness to accept bad judgement by their leaders.
  3. Most people don’t understand the Savings & Loan scandal beyond feeling they were robbed.
  4. Political leaders did not guide the nation to any intellectual and emotional resolution when the Cold War with Russia was declared ended. There has been no public expression of victory, no grief for the suffering since the late 1940s, no recognition of the anxiety from living on the brink of nuclear annihilation for decades, and no call to action resulting from this enormous result. The all-encompassing threat of the USSR seemed to melt away.
  5. People are looking for a third way, any way other than the one offered by two tired, overweight, atrophied creatures called the Republican and Democratic parties.
  6. Public argument on all issues, as structured by the electronic media, is presented in two extremes, leaving a large portion of the public angry, confused, or turned off.
  7. Most people simply want a job that provides enough money for them to live a happy but not extravagant life.
  8. Cynics in each of the main parties have manipulated voters’ worst fears and most selfish appetites to win their approval and gain power. Simple answers to complicated questions are often popular.
  9. The 50 percent of voters who opt out of national elections may run to the polls to vent their frustration and anger.
  10. A faction of extreme anti-government political thinkers and religious radicals have wielded disproportionate influence over public policy for the past 12 years.
  11. The election of a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (George H. W. Bush) to the presidency was the last straw in shady power politics for some voters. Picture how Americans would respond if the head of the KGB spy agency became the top political figure in Russia.
  12. Millions of Americans are out of hope and don’t believe their government as now organized can help them fulfill their dreams. Pre-revolutionary conditions exist in the USA due to an extreme imbalance in income distribution.

—Paul Marion, 1992