Many Camp Campaign readers may be too young to remember Ross Perot’s failed bid for the Presidency of the United States of America. Perot is a billionaire businessman who decided that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats were willing or able to get the job done. Perot had the means to try to step in and do something about it. He launched the most successful third-party campaign in modern American political history.
He scored 19% of the popular vote in 1992, although he was completely shut out of the electoral vote by the arcane rules of the Electoral College. Exit polls showed that if all the voters whose responses started with “I was going to vote for Perot but I didn’t want to throw my vote away so I voted for…” had just voted for Perot, he would have been the 42nd President of the United States of America.
Perot’s Reform Party could have been brought the start of real change to the political system. But his relative success in 1992 brought an all-out concerted effort by the establishment to marginalize the potential for a third party to break the chokehold that the Donkeys and Elephants hold over the country.
Fast forward to 2013. The two major parties are even more polarized and even more entrenched than ever before. Nearly half the country has been indoctrinated to believe that anything a politician with a little (D) next to his or her name says is, by definition, right. Most of the other half believes the exact opposite. Sadly, the majority of the precious remaining few freethinkers have settled on one party or the other, despite their differences, because they see it as the better alternative between two poor choices.
In other words, the establishment won. Perot’s shakeup came to nothing. Ron Paul tried to take up the banner to a degree, but he tried to work within the Republican Party framework rather than a true third party movement. And although Paul is an absolute rock star to his devoted followers he has not been able to break through the two-party stranglehold to catch on with a broad enough following to bring about any real reform.*
Sure, the Libertarians are out there. So is the Green Party and a few others. But not in numbers sufficient to make the deadened, party-line populace stand up and take notice.
Poll after poll screams that the people are fed up with a do-nothing, deadlocked, partisan, childish Congress. Yet every election cycle it seems the average voter becomes more entrenched in the notion that every ill can be blamed primarily on the officials of the other party and that the only alternative is to elect more (fill in the blank: Republicans / Democrats) to office. Just a few more (Republicans / Democrats) in Congress and we’ll be able to break the obstructionist agenda of the other guys. Then America will become that great nation that we just know it could be.
I have just one question for you, America. To quote the great philosopher Dr. Phil, “How’s that working out for you?”
To put this into perspective, consider that out of 535 members of congress, exactly two are affiliated with party other than the Big Two. Do you really believe that out of 535 political races across the Fruited Plain, there were only two cases in which the best candidate for the job was NOT a Republican or a Democrat? That’s just under 4/10th of one percent.
We’ve all heard the quote attributed to unparalleled genius Albert Einstein. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” It is so well known that it is generally accepted as a truism. And yet when it comes to politics we do the same thing over and over again, voting for the Democrat or Republican that promises to be different than every Democrat or Republican to come before, and believing that he or she is going to bring the change we so desperately seek.
All I’m saying is maybe, just maybe, Ross Perot had the right idea after all.
* A special note to all the Ron Paul supporters out there. I’m not bad mouthing the guy. There’s no need to get hysterical. I like him, really I do. But the facts are the facts and unless I missed something he still hasn’t been elected president.