Donald Trump’s emergence as a possible 2012 GOP presidential candidate has to be compared to the last billionaire, Ross Perot, who burst onto the political scene in February 1992 on CNN’s "Larry King Live" and completely altered that race and, in effect, elected Bill Clinton over President George H.W. Bush.
There are a few similarities between Perot and Trump:
- As billionaires they are seen by the public as too rich to be corrupted by our dirty political culture.
- In a time of national economic distress, billionaires are seen as guys who know how to make money when none of us can; they know how to do all the things we cannot do. Many people think billionaires are smarter than anyone else; this is ironic as most people think billionaires don’t pay their fare share of taxes yet they still want the billionaire to be the savior.
- Ross Perot and Donald Trump do share several characteristics that come from being rich: they are both their own bosses and thus the normal political and media rules do not apply to them.
- They have enormous egos.
- They don’t listen to people very well.
- They can get on any show any time they want — something only a sitting president can do.
Now, how are Perot and Trump different?
- Perot is a Naval Academy graduate and thus was always a straightlaced person who wanted to focus his campaign not on himself but more on the debt status of the federal government.
- Perot’s true, and heretofore-unknown, reason for running in 1992 was to ruin George H.W. Bush’s chance of being re-elected for issues relating to POWs in Vietnam.
- Donald Trump is all about himself. Period. Will it become The Trump White House if he wins?
- Trump’s business and personal behavior over the years is not on the same level as Perot’s pioneering career in computers. Gambling casinos and three marriages are not going to sit well with the still-powerful religious right even if much of what he (now) says on China and OPEC and Obama strikes a responsive chord.
While our country is floundering in a weak economy, the allure of the billionaire savior can be intoxicating. But American does not need a savior. We are America’s saviors!
Do not fall for the (momentary) allure of the easy fix . . . the idea that one rich man knows better than we do.
No, as we see with the tea party movement, we, the American people, are fighting to change our country’s economic future. We are saving the country.
We just need to keep on pushing, and, like the Founding Fathers, God’s grace will shine on us.
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