We need more presidential candidates like Ross Perot

A servant for the people

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“Eric and Katherine Reeve, Ross and Margot Perot” by Oh So Cynthia is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“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 makes it unique is that this came from millions of people in 50 states all over this country who wanted a candidate that worked and belonged to nobody but them. I go into this race as their servant. And I belong to them. So, this comes from the people.”

When I think of Perot’s words in this debate, and his constant mention of “[sic] people,” and then, “servant,” I suddenly realize what’s missing in our political process today (and has for quite some time), a candidate that is running to serve the needs of the citizenry. What’s missing is a candidate that is serving to protect the tenants of the Constitution. Instead, Americans are offered populism, which divides. Solutionism that dictates to the citizenry, and bureaucracy that rewards chaos. Indecency that enriches corruption. Never-ending wars not approved by Congress. And a big government that goes against the grains of our founders.

Of course, I’m sure, there are plenty of candidates running for president that believe it’s their calling to serve the people now. That they believe it’s their time to serve the common man, that they can resolve all our problems as a country — et al. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass, “I got a plan for that.”). But when is the last time you heard Warren — or a bevy of other presidential candidates, plus President Donald Trump — ask, “What is it that you need as a people?” Instead, they’re often telling us what we need. You need this kind of healthcare, education, and job. You need to eat this food. Raise your children this way. Use this pronoun. Etc. Etc.

Additionally, our limited means of being represented properly has fostered an environment of disengagement by citizens. Almost half of the voting population doesn’t vote. And it’s due to voters’ frustrations that their only choice is either Republican or Democrat, but what if you don’t identify with either? Or neither party fully represents your values and beliefs on how the government should run? It’s no wonder voters are frustrated, filled with bitterness, and apathy towards the government system. It’s no wonder citizens are duped by phony populists. It’s because citizens’ feels duped by the system and are sold lies and empty promises.

The system is the same old same old, no matter who’s running the ship. Gone are the days of having a leader that want to be American’s servant. Gone are the days of a candidate running to protect the tenants of the Constitution and the rights of man.

Regardless of what you felt about Perot’s positions, it truly is a sad time in politics to lose a man with such a pedigree to serve simply for serving’s sake. I wish there were more candidates like Ross Perot.

Note: On July 11, the article was updated to correct some spelling errors. If you have questions or a suggestion about the article, please leave a comment below.

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Freelance writer. Podcaster. Liberal. Prolife.

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