Deja Perot All Over Again …

May 3, 2012

Ross Perot was a genuine phenomenon.  He was iconic, he was (seemingly) unflappable, he seemed totally divorced from politics and politicians.  He was a man of the moment – he was to Larry King what Donald Trump is to Greta van Susteren – someone who could always get a gig, and who always drew a crowd, and who was always so over-the-top that people couldn’t get enough of him.  He seemed to speak to common sense – he seemed to reflect an earlier time in America when the people were seen as truly sovereign, not as drones or “followers.”  Of course, that was a myth, but like all good myths, there was enough truth behind it to make it appealing.

He arrived at a time when Bush 41 had seemed (after his triumph in Desert Storm), unbeatable, so the really “serious” Democrats stayed away from the Presidential election contest in droves.  Then, after it was too late for the serious Dem-dudes to throw hats in the ring, Bush’s “Read my lips” turned into “I betrayed you” to millions of low-tax conservatives and millions of other Americans who believed that Presidents shouldn’t lie (at least about such big and important issues).

So Bush was vulnerable – very vulnerable – while at the same time, the Democrats had a gaggle of political or moral midgets running for a nomination that, in ’91, looked worthless, but in early ’92 suddenly looked promising.

Perot appeared on Larry King, with his savvily primitive-looking visual aids, at a time when Americans were tired of career politicians – Presidents who couldn’t keep their word, candidates who couldn’t keep it zipped – and here came a man who seemed business-savvy. A man who understood the economy, had no vested interest in a government that was too big and too expensive.  A man who looked (implausibly) like he could cut through the red tape.

Nobody seemed to notice that he was such a complete outsider (being neither Democrat nor Republican) who had no support in Congress, suggesting he’d never be able to pass any of his “common-sense” solutions.  But he was fun and funny and quirky and … different, at a time when Americans were just fed up with “the same.”

Of course, he eventually melted down, right after his verbal gaffe at the NAACP Convention in Nashville, then dropped out of the race (only to drop back in a few weeks later), but that’s not what this blog is about.

Until Perot melted down – then again, when he got back in the race – Perot had a rare gift of attracting dynamic, energetic, totally emotional and illogical “true believers” who believed everything Perot said and did.  These Kool-Aid drinkers (do you know where THAT phrase came from?  See the PS below) also found a way to overlay Perot with every dream, every passion, every fervent wish they had for their country.  Perot didn’t have to say it, let alone promise it – true believers “knew” that he’d bring in the new millennium almost a decade early.

In that way, Perot inspired an unreasoning belief that was very much like the belief Barack Obama inspired in 2008 – in that year, under the amorphous banner, “Hope and Change,” Obama’s fanatic true-believer followers imputed to him every one of their dreams.  Who can forget the woman interviewed at the inauguration who said that now she wouldn’t have to pay her mortgage anymore, because Obama had been elected …

After he melted down, then tried to restore his candidacy, Perot had no chance at all. None.  Period.  But he still drew 18.9 percent of the vote – enough to allow William Jefferson Clinton to win the Presidency with an almost unbelievable 43 percent of the popular vote.  However, Perot’s true believers were still so committed that he polled a ridiculous 8.4 percent in ’96 – that total, with what Dole brought in, would have created a dead-heat tie akin to the 2000 election, but with Perot’s 8 million votes, Clinton sailed to an easy second term – still with just a minority (a plurality) of the vote, but enough to easily and decisively win a second term.  And winning, that’s what counts.

Fast forward to 2000.  Perot had shot his bolt, and in this election he was no longer a factor.  However, where Perot had taken far more votes away from Bush 41 and Senator Dole than he had from President Clinton, in 2000 an ultra-long-shot third party “Green” candidate Ralph Nader took votes away from the Democrat, Al Gore.  Nader received 2.9 million votes, for 2.74 percent of the popular vote – in Florida, Nader had almost 100,000 votes – more than enough to give the state, and the election, to Al Gore, who was obviously far closer to Nader’s beliefs than was Bush 43.   All of those who voted for Ralph Nader knew that he couldn’t win – but many of them were “true believers” who cared more about following their guru than electing Gore, who largely shared their Green environmental beliefs.

Which all leads us to 2012, and Ron Paul.  Like Ross Perot and Ralph Nader before him, Ron Paul has attracted cultic followers who are irrationally convicted that Ron Paul not only is RIGHT in all things, but that he can and will win, and those who don’t believe that are blind, and perhaps even part of a conspiracy to keep the truth from Americans.  Think of all of the recent news stories (some recounted in blogs here at Nevada Conservative) about plans that Ron Paul’s followers are executing on to:

  • Stack the deck in district and state party conventions to secure for Paul far more delegates to the Republican National Convention in Tampa – examples of this from Alaska to Massachusetts have been published by the Washington Post, the New York Times, and many other news sites and blog sites – in Massachusetts, where Romney got nearly 80 percent of the popular vote, Paul’s delegates have, through parliamentary tricks and deception, grabbed well more than 50 percent of delegates to Tampa
  • Violate the party’s rules, as well as lie and deceive others to secure their dominance
  • Play what would be nothing more than college fraternity pranks – if they didn’t subvert the will of the electorate – to deny others access to conventions – for instance, this is unfolding in Texas, where all the secured hotel rooms were grabbed within a half-hour of becoming available, something that could only occur via a coordinated national effort to flood the hotels with “reservations” before real delegates could get the rooms set aside for them
  • Pass the word (wink, wink) to Paul delegates that, despite party rules, delegates ought to be able to “vote their conscience” instead of representing their state’s voters – which is what they are in Tampa to do – and in the process, at the very least, throw the Convention into chaos as delegate after delegate tries to break the rules and disenfranchise literally millions of primary and caucus voters

If Ron Paul’s true-believer followers actually succeed in disrupting the Republican convention live and on national television, they will not get Paul the nomination – let alone the election – but they will succeed in immeasurably helping elect Barack Obama, the way Perot helped elect Bill Clinton (twice) and how Nader helped elect Bush 43.

The only prevention against deception on such a massive scale is the sunlight of truth.  So if you see any parallels between 1992 and 2012, check out the news stories which cover this – Jon Ralston’s break-down-the-door column in the Las Vegas Sun, Ray Hager’s several articles and columns in the Reno Gazette Journal, as well as national coverage in the Washington Post and the Washington Times (one clearly liberal, one definitely conservative), and all of the other news stories that are emerging.  Then decide for yourself.  I think you’ll be amazed – as I was – at the remarkable parallels between Perot and Paul, Ross and Ron.

Ned Barnett – Nevada Conservative

Ned Barnett has worked in campaigns, and as a speechwriter to candidates and elected officials, since he was the “mascot” to the local Young Republicans in 1964 (Goldwater) – he has managed media and strategy for three state-level Presidential campaigns, and worked hand-in-glove with the legendary Lee Atwater in South Carolina in the Ford Campaign.  In 2009-10, as an active Tea Party supporter, he served as both the Clark County/Las Vegas and Nevada Republican Party Communications Director.  He owns Barnett Marketing Communications in Las Vegas, and provides a full range of PR, marketing, issues-management and fund-raising services for clients in Las Vegas, around the country, and in several other countries.  He can be reached at 702-561-1167 or …


PS – Kool Aid Drinker.  In 1978, a weirdly charismatic and psychotic religious cult leader, Reverend Jim Jones, fled with his followers to “Jonestown” – a clearing in the jungles of Guyana in South America, to escape criminal charges of child abuse (he had a taste for young teen-aged daughters of his followers).  When it looked like US authorities were closing in, Jones brewed up a batch of Kool Aid laced with cyanide, a potent poison, and had all of his more than 900 followers drink it along with him.  They all died – men, women and children – because they were “true believers” who did whatever (and believed whatever) they were told.  The term “Kool Aid Drinker” came into our political jargon, to mean anyone who follows a weirdly charismatic leader and will believe anything he says, and do anything he says, and always – always – come to a bad end.  David Koresch was one of these – and all of his followers died in Waco, Texas.  Heaven’s Gate’s followers committed suicide to be “translated” to meet God on a comet.  And Ron Paul followers are ready to sabotage the Republican Party that they believe they’re trying to take over – oblivious to the fact that the most likely outcome of their actions will be to give the election to Obama, the way Perot gave two elections to Clinton, and Nader gave the contested 2000 election to Bush 43.

PPS:  A New Conspiracy Theory – Notice that Ron Paul, Ross Perot and Ralph Nader all have first names with begin with “R” – and that the two most “cult-like” of them, Ron Paul and Ross Perot, have the same first- and last-name initials.  As another not-quite-sane “true believer,” Roy Neary (in Close Encounters) said,  This means something. This is important.”

And of course, this last item is a joke, mocking the conspiracy theories so beloved of the true believers …



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