Friday, December 18, 2015
Lessons Trump learned from H. Ross Perot
As Donald Trump rose in the polls, Republicans warned that Trump would become an H. Ross Perot and run independently, enabling Hillary Clinton to win.
But that never really seemed to be an issue. Trump seems to have learned from Perot's quixotic run in 1992, which led to a balanced budget in 1998, even though Perot failed to get a single Electoral College vote. Trump does not plan to finish third, however.
We tend to brush Perot off as your crazy aunt, but he did more than most politicians have. In 1969, Perot tried to bring food and medical supplies to our POWs held in Hanoi. Rebuffed, he nevertheless became involved in the POW/MIA movement. And Trump is applying lessons from Perot's life:
1. Do something with your life first. Perot was an early computer billionaire who started in the 1960s. As a CEO and a wise investor, he made a mark on the industry. Trump was an early investor in the casino industry as it moved beyond Las Vegas. He diversified into books and television. He is a far more artful communicator.
2. Never lose your audience. The more you stand for your supporters, the more they will stand by you. Even after Perot quit the race in August 1992, his supporters remained true and would not support the first President Bush. That loyalty was so strong that Perot re-entered the race not to let them down.
3. They will go after you and your little dog too. Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin are some of the milder epithets thrown at The Donald.
4. Don't form a third party. That was Perot's mistake. Just as the communists took over the Democratic Party and turned it into the seething anti-American mess that it is, so must capitalists like Perot and Trump take over the Republican Party. Forming a third party requires too much paperwork. It was easier to primary Eric Cantor in 2014 than to beat him in a three-way. By the way, Paul Ryan, you are next. The Wisconsin primary is April 5, 2016.
And Number 4 is the most important lesson. Jeb Bush now says he will support Hillary instead of Trump. In so doing, Bush admits that Trump is looking more and more like the Republican nominee. Working within the system was not an option for Perot, but it is for Trump and it seems to be working.