We need more presidential candidates like Ross Perot
“I go into this race as their servant. And I belong to them. So, this comes from the people.”
A beacon to the politically independent movement is gone. Ross Perot has died at the age of eighty-nine. For those unfamiliar with Mr. Perot, he ran as a third-party candidate for president in 1992 and 1996, and he is famously known for securing the most votes of any independent candidate, to date.
As an independent presidential candidate, Perot focused on economic issues like reducing the deficit. He was devoutly pro-choice and supported Planned Parenthood. He was also ahead of his time in support for gay rights. Perot also supported increases in AIDS research funding. And he believed we should ban assault rifles. In a political sense, he was Bill Clinton’s nemesis during the election cycle.
During my childhood, I famously remember hearing adults around me debating seriously and contemplating voting for Ross Perot. As I think back on that now, it seems like fiction that an independent candidate evoked such fervor and seriousness by the electorate (not to dismiss Ralph Nader living legacy as independent candidate for president). Often, those who run as an independent seem goulash, not serious, unqualified, an arsonist to the system, and a waste of a vote.
During the first debate in 1992, Perot hit the gate running, by disguising his independence from the political machine. “I think the principal issue that separates me is that five-and-a-half million people came together on their own and put me on the ballot. I was not put on the ballot by either the two parties. I was not put on the ballot by any PAC money, by any foreign lobbyist money, by any special interest money. This is a movement that came from the people. This is the way the framers of the Constitution intended our government to be, a government that comes from the people.”
Perot continued, “Over time we have developed a government that comes at the people, that comes from the top down, where the people are more or less treated as objects to be programmed during the campaign with commercials and media events and fear messages and personal attacks and things of that nature. The thing that separates my candidacy and…