The Perot Revolution

People keep asking me if I support Ross Perot for president. Well, they'll never find out. I'm not in the business of endorsing candidates for office. But I will tell you what I think the Perot phenomenon means. The Ross Perot candidacy is part good news, part bad news. The good news is that Perot reminds us we live in a country where we enjoy the freedom to express our political discontent. Protesting the establishment is part of every American's birthright. Supporting Ross Perot has given millions of Americans the chance to do just that--in ways no one would have thought possible. After only two dozen television interviews and half a dozen speeches, he is leading in the polls over an incumbent president and an attractive young Democratic governor. The major parties are scrambling, and the people seem to love it. Perot vowed he would spend $100 million or more of his own money to run for president. But so far he hasn't needed it. He has drummed up support not by slick advertising but just by expressing the anger that people feel: their frustration with the political establishment. People think their current leaders need to be grabbed by the lapels and shaken. Ross Perot is more than willing to lead a hand. The strange thing is that it doesn't seem to matter what Perot actually says or stands for. People are supporting him not because of his policies but in spite of them. I've seen pick-up trucks with confederate flag decals and full gun racks--sporting a Perot bumper sticker. Don't they know Perot supports gun control? I've talked to pro-lifers wearing T-shirts that say "Ross for Boss." Don't they know Perot is strongly pro-abortion? I've met economic conservatives who think Perot can help set the U.S. economy right again. Don't they know Perot wants to raise taxes? He has said that government "needs all the taxes it can get." To Perot supporters, none of his actual positions seem to matter. When it comes right down to it, they seem to be more attracted to his personality than to his position papers. They like his grit, his courage, his let's-get-things-done approach. They seem to want Perot to run a raid on Washington just like the commando-style strike he ran on Iran during the Khomeini era, when he rescued two of his employees who were trapped there in jail. The Perot phenomenon has been called the first revolution ever led by a billionaire. And it is a revolution. It threatens to overturn the way America's two-party system has done business for a century and a half. Thomas Jefferson recommended a little bit of revolution now and then. It reminds government that it's the people who are ultimately in charge. It encourages the kind of humility a public servant ought to show. But a revolution sweeps away the old to make way for the new. And there's the question: What kind of new system would Perot usher in? What would take the place of the old system being swept out? This is where the bad news about Perot comes in. Tomorrow I'll explain why.


Chuck Colson


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