Politics in America
Part 15: Parties, Subcultures, and Structures Within the American Political System
by Robert L. Kocher
This is not a dissertation on American Republicans and Democrats, although it begins with them. It is an examination of political reality and needed direction for reform and survival. It’s worth a doctoral degree in political science that is guaranteed to get you barred from entering, or expelled from, any university department on earth.
A study was done in 1998 as a joint project of Harvard University, the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, and the Washington Post. It was published in the October 4, 1998 Washington Post. It showed the following well-defined subgroups within the major political parties and how those voted in the 1996 presidential election. The study found four Republican subcultures and five Democrat subcultures. The Democratic and Republican subcultures, and their voting patterns, are those identified by statistical analysis in the study. The analysis here will incorporate, but is not limited to, information found in that study. My descriptions of these subcultures incorporate and parallel the defining features found and described in the study, but are my own words, observations, and analysis.
1) The Determined Liberals.
These are 30 percent of democrats. Sixty-three percent are women. Eighty-six percent voted for the Clintons. Four percent voted for Dole. Four percent voted for Perot. The remainder voted for splinter party candidates.
This subculture believes entitlement to everything is a personal right. Government is to guarantee jobs, medical care, economic equality. Concurrently, most of these people believe government is inefficient and intrudes into people’s lives. That means they want unconditional government support and funding without accountability. Accountability is relabeled intrusion. Basically, they want a blank check given to them with no questions asked and no demands for responsibility. They want a government that is a wealthy permissive parent surrogate.
They support same-sex marriage, unrestricted abortions, out-of-wedlock childbearing, unlimited welfare or social service benefits. They believe in confiscation of other people’s earnings and redistributing it so they can coast through life with their primary concerns being their sex lives and personal problems.
2) Helping Hand Democrats.
They are 22 percent of Democrats. Sixty-seven percent are women; 84 percent voted for the Clintons. Six percent voted for Dole. Seven percent voted for Perot.
These are people who have bought into liberal sociology and selectively combined it with the most socialistic aspects of religion. They are essentially religious socialists. They inhabit a form of soft religion that emphasizes forgiveness, but is deficient on demanding responsibility from both themselves and others. They are Jimmy Carters.
My personal observation over the years is that there is a class of Christians who live in a bland separation from emotional reality. They have attained a type of pathological dissociated state through religion and are willing to browbeat anyone who doesn’t share it. A type of unrealistic all-forgiving all-understanding emotional euphoric stupor is, in their eyes, attainment of sainthood. They are dangerous to themselves and dangerous to others in their emotional unreality and in their judgments made within that unreality. The type of government and social environment they advocate requires someone as emotionally neutered, repressed, or sublimated as they are to live in it. Many in this political subculture are of that condition.
The idea of sainthood is to be in such a state such as to look up at The Lord in oblivious forgiveness when people stick pins in you. The problem is, when you have attained that mental condition, the world has a serious number of sadists who will stick pins in you, and more, for amusement if they can get away with it. Those of us who are less emotionally detached from reality regard this sadism as a danger signal impelling us to make war rather than prayers.
This subculture is a difficult group of people to explain. They have classical religious moral values. Fifty percent strongly disapprove of abortion. Eighty percent strongly reject homosexuality. Eight in 10 strongly agree that America should return to traditional family values. But socialism is more important to them than traditional morality, which is why they are Democrats. Most believe welfare benefits should continue indefinitely. They believe America should become some sort of compulsively imposed religious economic commune, and that that would end all problems.
Their religious values terminate at, or emphasize, selected socialistically oriented words of Jesus at the expense of weighting necessity for responsibility and self-discipline.
3) Discouraged White Democrats.
These are 19 percent of Democrats. Fifty-seven percent are women. Sixty-nine percent voted for the Clintons. Thirteen percent voted for Dole. Twelve percent voted for Perot.
These tend to be poor white American southerners who decline government money and government programs as a matter of moral conviction. They vote Democratic from the Southern tradition of supporting the Democratic Party and because nobody but Reagan has ever appealed to them. They are probably many of the Democrats who voted for Reagan because he could talk to them.
They tend to be of more serious religious moral conviction and have the same attitudes toward homosexuality and abortion as the Helping Hand Democrats.
4) New Generation Democrats.
These are 15 percent of Democrats. Forty-three percent are women. Ninety-two percent voted for the Clintons. One percent voted for Dole. Two percent voted for Perot.
These are economically well off, eternal party kids—although many of them are in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s who are still trying to pretend they are kids and avoiding adulthood. They live exclusively for instantaneous personal amusement regardless of costs to themselves or others. One third of them are in their 20s. The remainder are older, but think and act as if they were fifteen. Most of them are single. They like sex of all varieties, drugs, abortions, and anything else either immediately amusing or servicing the consequences of that amusement. They care about nothing but the night’s party. They reject all forms of morality and religion. They want a bigger government with more guaranteed services to relieve them from responsibility or having to absorb any consequences for their actions or for employing any thought in their lives.
They are essentially free-spirited freeloaders. They are emotional freeloaders in their unreasonable demands upon other people. They are economic freeloaders in their demands upon others to enable their life styles. Many of them have fallen into good positions in an economic condition where the living is easy.
They are apparently differentiated from other people on the economic and lifestyle political left by absence of ideology. You won’t hear elaborate Marxist or para-Marxist philosophy. They just want what they want at the moment and believe life should be a continuation of that pattern forever with government help and assurances. The merry-go-round should go on forever with no responsibility and others paying the bills, although they are not serious enough in thought to even consider that others need to sacrifice to pay the costs.
5) The Libertarian Democrats.
These are nine percent of the Democratic Party. Forty-nine percent are women. Eighty-five percent voted for the Clintons. One percent voted for Dole. Ten percent voted for Perot.
These people are practitioners of eternal angry selfish empty rebellion. There is a difference between a degree of enlightened selfishness in which a person demands respect for themselves as opposed to a selfishness that believes the entire world revolves around themselves at the expense of others and the future. These are proponents of the latter.
Their interpersonal relationships tend to be horrible or nonexistent. They are angry fortresses inhabited by empty emotional refrigerators. They can’t tolerate each other any more than their group can tolerate other groups. More than 40 percent of the entire group are divorced. That’s 40 percent of the entire group including a large proportion of people in the entirety who have not, and do not, engage in close interpersonal relationships, including marriage, of any kind. They want to be a subject of some kind of sterile awe and worship in their personal lives. They are would-be stern demanding Germanic gods expecting to be worshipped.
They hate government but are Democrats because they believe the Democratic party is atheistic and they hate religion more than they hate government. They tend to be people who have destroyed their personal lives and in too many cases religion reminds them of it. They are also vehemently polarized from the authoritarian simplistic faith-based reasoning found at many churches. They are of the belief that acceptance of any type of moral code would make them similar to the rote bible-thumping faith-based systems that they hate. They have exchanged rote blind bible-thumping for rote blind atheism-thumping.
They believe they are sophisticated. In their belief in their own sophistication, they don’t believe in any rules except the ones they make up themselves for their own life. But, they don’t seem to be smart enough to come up with a working set of rules for life. Consequently, they tend to mess up their lives, and are angry about it. They mistakenly believe all rules for life and reality come only from religion.
In their complacent belief in their own sophistication, beneath which is really a shallowness, many of them are the most tedious and boring people imaginable. They are narrow, obsessive, and boring.
If there is truth in the old adage that a man all wrapped up in himself makes a small package, these are people who have achieved a state of miniaturization to be envied by the semiconductor industry.
There is another infused or parallel sub-subcultural branch of the libertarian subculture that is mentioned in other studies and crosses over into the Republicans and into portions of the Libertarian party. This part of the subculture is primarily oriented toward one issue. The people subscribing to it want recreational drugs to the point of obsession. They are unreliable for anything else. They are stunted mentalities fixated at immature levels, lacking a broader or comprehensive view of life. Regardless of what they say, if Ivan the Terrible were to guarantee them access to drugs, they would accept him with open arms or vote for him. They are temporarily aligned with the movement toward a weaker smaller government as a type of manipulation because they believe such a government would have less power to interdict their drug supply.
Once they have access to enough drugs to stay stoned, any other commitment or concern decays into doubtfulness or non-existence.
There is nothing wrong with America that using drugs is going to fix. Not once in 40 years have I seen drug use add to anyone’s quality of life. On the other hand, there is much that using drugs has made worse, individually and socially. The legacy of drug use has been to inflict on America legions of soft immature personalities who show a remarkable capacity for continuing to function at the level of logic they have become accustomed to under the reality-anesthesia of drug use. It’s a quality of functioning well-adaptable to the soft unreality of socialism.
1) Liberal Republicans.
These make up 19 percent of the Republican party. Fifty-eight percent of them are women. Thirty-four percent of them (you read that correctly) voted for the Clintons, 48 percent for Dole, and 12 percent for Perot.
They seem to be Republicans rather than being Democrats because of the snob appeal of the Republican party. They believe they bathe more frequently, wear fancier clothes, have fancier educations, have better table manners, discourse with more subtle wit, and are more suitable for management positions than the rather crude laboring people or non-perfumed coarse radicals stereotyping the traditional Democratic party.
In terms of political activism, they work to see that the most liberal candidate becomes the nominee of the Republican party. After working for that, they then vote for the even more liberal Democrats on election day.
These are often people living life in the personal fast lane. The women tend to screw around a lot in what they believe is a higher class manner than the vulgar Democrats, and they want abortions afterward. The men they are screwing around with want them to get those abortions afterwards because they don’t really want to be stuck with either the women or their babies. Abortion is a major thrust in the liberal Republican agenda.
2) Big Business Republicans.
These make up 22 percent of Republicans. Forty percent of them are women. Twenty percent of them ( yup ) voted for the Clintons. Fifty-eight percent voted for Dole. Fourteen percent of them voted for Perot.
These are people whose dominant or only interest is money money money. They are either relatively unconcerned about morality, or their disapproval of classical immorality is passive and distanced. Few of them are religious. Contrary to the stereotype of people in big business, many of them believe they can make more money under quasi-socialism.
3) Big Government Conservatives.
These make up 23 percent of Republicans. Fifty-five percent are women. Eighteen percent of them voted for the Clintons. Fifty-eight percent of them voted for Dole. Sixteen percent of them voted for Perot.
They are moderately religious. They are the least prosperous of all Republicans. Sixty percent of them never went beyond high school. Forty-five percent live in the South.
Sixty percent of them believe the government “Should do everything possible to improve the standard of living of all Americans.” That is translated into a wish for greatly enlarged government, government support, and programs —which is why so many voted for the Clintons.
(Note: At this point a pattern is evident. A major and critical amount of the Clintons’ political strength, and the strength of people like them has been in the Republican party—and particularly among Republican women. )
4) Religious Conservatives.
These are 29 percent of Republicans. Thirty-nine percent are women. Nine percent of them voted for the Clintons. Eighty percent of them voted for Dole. Five percent of them voted for Perot.
Many years ago there was a movie adapted from an old script in which Burt Lancaster played a western sheriff in the 1800s. As a sheriff entering an unknown town, the first thing he would do was examine the churches to determine the character and temperament of the people. As he came into one town he remarked some other towns had churches where people knelt down in submission and prayer. But in this particular town the people stood upright when they addressed their god.
Most Republican religious conservatives are of a nature who stand upright before their god and all else. Submission and compliance are alien and immoral. They say what they believe is the truth regardless of whether people want to hear it. They allow no slack in their own lives, or in the lives of those around them. They are repelled by extramarital sex, homosexual marriages, or casual abortion,
No emotional blandness here. They will crack heads in an eye-for-an-eye fashion rather than turn the other cheek. When something goes wrong, they want to know exactly why, and what somebody did to cause it. Prayer will come only after honest brutally frank accounting. Like the cold-blooded libertarians, 68 percent of them believe in a five-year limitation on welfare benefits. According to their god, for those who don’t use a helping hand to discipline and improve themselves, the free ride stops.
Their preference for rigorous cold logic and personal accountability regardless of anyone’s personal discomfort makes them hated by those people who are chronic screw-ups looking to concoct a story to sell somebody. This subculture doesn’t accept stories.
Their integrity and self discipline serve them well. They are apparently the most highly educated and prosperous of the political subcultures. One in seven have gone to graduate or professional school. More than half were making over $50,000 per year in 1998 and one quarter were making over $75,000 per year. They are the most serious advocates of, and participants in, free enterprise and entrepreneurialship of any of the political subcultures. They are basically what remains of the backbone of America.
They vote strongly Republican in desperate defense against what they conceive of as the total degeneracy and madness of the liberal Democratic Party.
They are looked upon as an inconvenience and annoyance within the Republican party, but the party needs their votes and therefore tolerates them with discomfort.
What follows was not part of the Harvard study.
The Third Party Subculture
Third, and other, parties were not mentioned in the study, but most certainly exist.
The third party is the dominant party, but runs no candidates itself. It strongly affects the candidacy and issues in the Republican and Democratic parties. The Third Party is essentially the media and entertainment industry further supported by the educational establishment. Somewhere about 89 percent of the Washington press corps voted for George McGovern in 1972, which is more conclusive evidentiary demonstration of clear aggressive insanity than could be derived from administering Rorschachs and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventories. About the same percentage voted for the Clintons, suggesting the condition is both permanent and passed to, or is a requirement of, successive professional entrants. The relationship between the political values of the media versus the ordinary public has ranged from sharply divergent to crusadingly adversarial during the last 40 years. The gap is closing as the machinations of the monolithic media have taken effect.
People in the media and entertainment professions live a life much like the European fops of several hundred years ago who sat about dressed in wigs and gaudy clothes impressing and entertaining each other through demonstration of affected effete childishness and with their distance from reality and the vulgar world of physical productivity. The media and entertainment elite, and university educators belong in a closely parallel class, inhabit that artificial world where they can remain entranced by their self-conferred superiority. It’s a subculture of fops, fools, and court jesters who have contempt for all others other than themselves and their world.
But the American public’s knowledge and image of history and events is channelized into, and filtered or distorted through, the media, particularly TV. There, political-social ideas or candidates can be subjected to subtle ridicule, there can be selective presentation and distortion of candidate image, there can be cultivation or development of recognition and appearance of leadership or importance of selected people in a virtual reality, while just as importantly fop-disapproved ideas and candidates are sentenced to oblivion in terms of public knowledge or awareness through deleted presentation. This is the most highly developed monolithic propaganda and information control system in history. It is voluntarily and almost religiously adhered to and operated. With power such as this, a political party doesn’t need its own candidates. It creates and determines issues and political candidates and injects them into other political organization and in the nation’s cultural institutions.
This political party tends to believe in liberated sex, casual abortion, same sex marriage, government welfare programs, one-world economics and socialism, and they advocate what they consider to be this sophisticated view. In fact, living within their social and intellectual inbred separation and isolation that they inhabit, the existence of serious valid opposing views is inconceivable to them or thought to be held only by primitives and eccentrics in distant ignorant regions.
The increasing thrust of media lives and the media industry (and educators) is unrestrained sadistic imposition of outrage coupled with feeling of their own narcissistic superiority. From the time you get up in the morning the listening or reading audiences are assaulted with declarations of what is wrong with America —-and what is right about the political and lifestyle left. Outrage procures attention and TV ratings as well as contributing to their sense of self-importance. So does theatrical lunatic politics.
Under the revision and filtration process the public learns Viet Cong atrocities never took place, leftist subversives and revolutionaries are blandly relabeled social activists with new ideas who are persecuted for thinking differently, Eleanor Clift and Gloria Steinem are serious spokespeople worthy of repeated presentation. Gun control is of prime importance —and so on. Other people and views are non people or non existent —or are represented in as distorted a manner as possible.
Minor Parties (erroneously called third parties)
These are small parties ranging from socialists, to libertarians, to constitutionalists, to environmentalists.
In the world of real politics, candidates or parties need to meet three criteria to become elected.
1) They need to receive media, particularly TV, support, or need some way to get around left-wing media opposition and filtration. Without that, few people will know they exist. Party and candidate credibility is established by certifiers and supporters in the media, particularly by certification on TV.
2) Any party or candidate needs enormous amounts of money to buy glitter, presentations, and TV time. TV is where the contest of politics takes place. Companies spend $300,000 to $600,000 a pop advertising automobiles or concoctions guaranteeing underarm niceness because those commercials work. Those commercials are a necessity to counterbalance commercials from alternative companies and maintain a share of the market. Similarly, to even begin to run, a national presidential candidate requires $50,000,000 to do the same thing companies need to do.
3) Any minor party must have a presentable candidate with what passes for ideas. Major parties don’t seem to need ideas at the present time. Major party candidates seem to do little but accuse their opponents of calling them nasty names and waging negative campaigns.
Minor parties and minor party candidates invariably lack items one and two of the above. As a consequence, those of us in realistic politics realize they have no serious chance of winning a presidential election within those conditions. While it is true that Abraham Lincoln could win the presidency in what was then a splinter party, he could do it from horseback without needing to spend $300,000 a shot for minutes of TV time.
Perception of a party’s being able to win is important as a determining factor in receiving votes. This is independent of the validity of the party’s ideas or quality of candidates. That is, if there are two major political parties, one of which is 95 percent incompetent and terrible, and the second of which is 85 percent terrible, and a third party that is quite good, with good ideas, but relatively unknown with little money and with little visibility and public recognition, most people are of the belief that the third party has no chance of winning. Hence, the voting public is forced to try to salvage what little it can by voting for the party that is only 85 percent lousy on election day. Or they stay home in depressed resignation.
What has evolved is a skillfully constructed system of implicit blackmail in which people are threatened with being afflicted with the worst of two clowns running for president if they withdraw their vote from the second worst clown and caste it for someone in a splinter party with integrity. I’m constantly assaulted with that in political discussions. “A vote for a minor party is the same as a vote for Al Gore,” say the Republicans.
As a practical matter, any political system that has splinter parties produces this intrinsic conflict between voting one’s conscience versus losing leverage and ending with the worst major party candidate instead of the second worst candidate.
In most cases a so-called third party vote is an angry protest over the existing condition of American politics. The splinter parties are so fragmented in ideology and personalities that none of them have the resources to mount a significant campaign.
The Largest Subculture: the Other People
The largest single political group in America is composed of people who don’t vote. This group has been growing steadily in America for the last 40 years. The percentage of people voting in American presidential elections has declined nearly linearly from 63.1 percent in 1960 to 49.1 percent in 1996, with one major exception which will be examined in a moment.
Let’s look at some numbers of people registered to vote, number of people voting, and percentage of eligibly-aged people voting in recent presidential elections in America.
|Year||# Voting||% Eligible||% of Eligible Voting|
The percentage of registered voters showing up at the polls to vote is as follows:
1964 95 %
1968 89 %
1972 80 %
1976 77 %
1980 77 %
1984 74 %
1988 72 %
1992 78 %
1996 66 %
These figures can be found in any of the almanacs. I’m using the 1998 Time Almanac.
Readers may be puzzled as to how more people voted than were registered in 1960. Although this was always standard procedure in Chicago under the old Daley Cook County Democratic Party machine, it isn’t the major reason. Several states did not report their number of registered voters for that year.
With two exceptions, one minor and one major, to be discussed, the percentage of eligible voters who vote has declined almost linearly over the last 40 years. Greater numbers of people register to vote each year, but smaller proportions show up at the polls on election day. Even the popular President Reagan, who was the minor of the two exceptions, failed to generate the proportion of voters showing up at the polls eight years earlier. Why?
These non-voting people are the crux of American politics and need to be explained. We can postulate several theories to account for them. We can postulate the interpretation that recent generations and people in recent years simply have no political interests. We can venture the hypothesis that there is some sort of generational phenomenon in which recent generations will not go to the polls.
If we postulate some sort of generational phenomenon in which recent generations are politically disinterested or will not vote, is there anything that would refute this hypothesis? Yes, and the answer lies in the 1992 election in which there was the only significant increase in voter turnout over the previous four presidential elections in 40 years, to provide the highest percentage turnout in 20 years. If we draw the overall voter participation decay line, we would expect to see a proportion of voters at about 49.7 percent for 1992. Instead, we see a strong surge to over 55 percent. How can this be accounted for? What happened in 1992?
For the moment we’ll call the 1992 surge the Perot Phenomenon, which is an oversimplification.
The consistency within the last 30 years is that there is a base of 39,000,000 Republicans who will turn out to vote for a Republican presidential candidate under nearly any conditions or quality of candidate. Anything above that is an expression of an exceptionally frightening and lunatic Democratic candidate or a charismatic Republican candidate.
Indications are that there are now the same or a slightly higher number of solid Democrats with their number increasing each year.
In the last 40 years the American people have shown progressive disinclination to show up at the polls to support the products of the Democratic or Republican parties who are really media manipulated/filtered and produced products in a virtual reality. People are tired of childish Democrat, Republican, and media, antics. The splinter parties are an exercise in futility. Consequently, people have withdrawn from political participation in reaction to the virtual reality theater of the absurd being pushed upon them from remote TV studios. An ever-greater proportion of the American people seem to have withdrawn from a political system in which they have no leverage or relationship.
So what happened in 1992? What occurred was the entering into the political presidential campaign of an exasperated Ross Perot who, like many others, was clearly disgusted by the condition of America and the direction it had been going for some time.
Perot had several things going for the Reform Party. Being a multi-billionaire he was well funded and could afford TV time to circumvent the control exercised by the leftist media and thus create both visibility and the perception that the party could win.
Love him or hate him, agree or disagree with him, Perot talked to the listening audience straight as if they were human beings. He conducted his presentations as though they were serious business meetings. There were no brass bands or circus performances. He had his charts and graphs and explanations delivered in his peculiar homespun Texas style. Whether you liked them or disagreed with them, he had his conceptions and ideas in an honest and frank form where they might offend some people, but listeners knew where he stood. For many millions of people it was a breath of fresh air and a blessed relief to listen to someone who wasn’t presented as a slickly packaged fashion model programmed to say as little as possible.
The Perot campaign took off like a rocket. At one time the polls showed him with somewhere in the order of 30-35 percent of the vote.
There was a major flaw in the campaign. Perot was much too serious a person to survive a political campaign. He expected much more seriousness, more honesty, more maturity, and less goofing around in choosing a president than the way it actually was. He thought he would be dealing with the caliber of serious people he was accustomed to interacting with. He was in for a shock. Actually, the weakness was not Perot’s. Elections to determine the American government should not be conducted like carnival side shows.
His frustration with the silliness and dishonesty in the political process began to build. The end came when he appeared before a Black organization somewhere in Florida. Most of the people there didn’t give a damn. Finally, in pained frustration, surprise, and disbelief, Perot exclaimed something to the effect, “Don’t you people want to do anything?” —-you people—? Cries of “racism” went up from a chorus of voices from media-attended stages throughout America. Perot shortly withdrew from the presidential race in disgust.
In fact, the ungiven answer to Perot’s question before the group he was addressing was, no. The people attending were looking for groveling guilt-ridden support for presenting themselves as victims deserving special privileges and an absence of accountability as compensation.
It seems somewhat evident that Perot became frustrated and disgusted beyond his levels of personal toleration and withdrew from the presidential race. The reasons he gave for his withdrawal my have been somewhat evasive and contributed to an erratic public image that was being spun by his adversaries.
After watching Bush and Clinton continue to campaign, Perot became further exasperated and reentered the race in disgusted desperation. But at that point his campaign was permanently scarred and too many people felt wary or betrayed by his earlier withdrawal. At that point Perot was permanently destroyed politically beyond complete remedy by his previous withdrawal.
A number of assertions have been made about Ross Perot. Most of what is said is foolishness and spin. I don’t know Ross Perot personally and have never met him. I’ve known or met people similar to him.
So who was, or is Ross Perot. To understand Perot, I’ll begin with a true story. When I was a teenager I was a good chess player. There was a middle-aged local small town lawyer I had acquaintance with who had played chess at various times in his life. I asked him if he wanted to play a game and he agreed with interest. Being an impulsive 15 year old I punctuated my moves with comments about how I had him. His quiet replies were, “Um, hum.” Finally he quietly declared, “Forced mate in three.” He hit me with a brilliant line of play that came out of nowhere and he won the game. I asked him if he wanted to play another game. He respectfully replied that he didn’t have time.
When GE and another large company wanted to effect a merger some 50 years ago, they had their choice of all attorneys in the country to represent both parties. They chose this man to negotiate the merger for a percentage of the stock. The reason was, he was one of the best attorneys in the country and they wanted to make certain nothing went wrong. He was one of the best legal minds in the country and could practice any kind of law, at any level, before any court in the county, or probably, the world.
I’d unknowingly tangled with one of the sharpest men in the country who was a quiet unpretentious man. The typical 15 year old kid doesn’t understand that beforehand. I quickly grew to understand it. I learned a lot that day—including a strong dose of humility. It’s a lesson I have never forgot and though it still embarrasses me, I am thankful for it. It’s something many adults have never learned.
Beneath his folksy manner Ross Perot is in the same league as that attorney. You will recognize and understand it out of experience with such people if it’s within your capacity and willingness. Ross Perot is a man who works quietly and whose word is accepted unconditionally by top people in the business and economic world. There is little doubt in knowledgeable circles that Perot could probably buy and sell entire continents if he wanted to do so. The typical view of the economically and personally naive is to retort, “If he could do it, then why doesn’t he do it and make more billions of dollars?” The answer is, more money is useless to Perot. He has no need or interest in it. More money is useless to anyone in his position.
Few people can understand what it is like to be Ross Perot. If Perot wanted another ten or twenty billion dollars, he could probably make it in the snap of a finger. Anyone of any stature and seriousness knows it. It’s also a fact that Ross Perot could spend $300,000 a day for the remainder of his life and never run out of money. But, as a practical matter, if most people tried to spend $300,000 a day on themselves, at the end of a month they’d be in a state of nervous breakdown trying to find something to buy or do next. Perot is in a financial state such that more money is useless to him. There is nothing more he can do with it. It won’t buy him any more of anything and he’s smart enough to know it. It wouldn’t be worth Perot’s time or effort to walk across the street to pick up $1,000,000 if someone were to offer it to him for nothing.
Then in his 60s, and now 70, Perot’s primary concerns are simple interests, such as his family. Secondarily, he has interests such as the condition of the country. He was president of his class at the Naval Academy and his personal national commitment and outlook have not changed since that time. Perot’s interests are such that he is the only person ever allowed to take a copy of the Magna Carta out of Great Briton, whereupon he placed it in the American National Archives next to the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. The Perots have contributed more than $100,000,000 to various charities and organizations.
But Perot’s personal world and integrity of operation are ill-adapted to politics. He wrongly expected the same level of competency, maturity, and seriousness in political life that he conducts in his own business and personal life. Instead, he faced a circus.
One subject to address here is the Perot election urban myth. The assertion is made by a class of amateurs with political interests that the reason the Clintons either entered or continued in the White House was because of people changing their support from Republicans to Ross Perot. But few of these people have looked at the election statistics. The reason the Clintons either entered or continued in the White House was not because of Ross Perot. The reason the Clintons continued in the White House is because 20 percent of Republicans voted for the Clintons. That is how they entered the White House. You cannot win an election with 20 percent of your own party voting for the opposition candidate. The differential between Democrats voting for Dole and Republicans voting for the Clintons was over 12 percent. Assuming a initial 50/50 split in Democratic/Republican party affiliation, a net 12 percent shift brings a landslide final vote tally of 62 percent for the Clintons and 38 percent for the Republicans within party lines. For Republican candidates, it was catastrophic. For the Clintons, it was a signal for celebration.
There are various myths and theories saying Perot cost the Republicans the election, or that Perot made some kind of strange private agreement with the Clintons or mysterious political/economic forces and societies to enter the race and elect the Clintons. But the fact is, send the Democratic Perot voters back to the Democratic party and the Republican Perot voters back to the Republican candidate, and the Clintons win. You can not win an election when 20 percent of your own party votes for the opposition. It’s a loser. Notice that the average turnout for Democrats voting for the Clintons was about 85 percent. If Republicans voting for Perot had instead voted for Dole in 1996, Dole still doesn’t obtain that necessary support percentage. It was Republican votes for Clinton that put the Clintons in office. It was Republicans who reelected the Clintons. The Clintons didn’t need Perot.
People who argue Perot cost Bush the election in 1992 often do so while making the doubtful assumption that the people who voted for Perot would even bother to vote if Perot were not running. That’s a very doubtful assumption. Note that the percentage of voter turnout for Bush’s win in 1988 was a very poor 50.1 percent. If Perot votes by Republicans and Democrats in 1992 are subtracted from the proportion of people voting and the totals for Republicans and Democrats are evaluated exclusive of the Perot vote, what is obtained is a percentage of active voters closing in on the poor 1988 turnout.
What occurred is that Perot did not change the election outcome by taking votes away from Bush, but, rather, he brought additional people into the voting booths who would otherwise not have voted. That accounts for the large increase in percentages of eligible voters voting and registered voters voting in 1992.