PEOPLE Make a world of difference ! We’re proud of our employees and their contributions to your success and ours. Call us for quality printing, binding, mailing and data processing services. Get to know the people at Futura. FUTUM P.O. Box 17427 Austin, TX 78760-7427 389-1500 COMMUNICATIONS, INC Continued from pg. 5 public perceives that there are two tendencies competing. Tsongas and Perot were both able to gain support by being in the second camp, as has, to some extent, Clinton. They are the ones who seem to offer promise of renewed effort to regain America’s footing as an economic superpower. Bush’s decline in popularity surely has something to do with his identification as the leader at a time in history when America stopped investing in the future. While the country seems to be falling apart, he’s merely waiting for the recession to end. These, then, are the two parties that actually exist on today’s political scene: the old-line Republicans, led by Bush \(with Pat Buchanan the ever evolving Republican/Democratic party of progressive corporatists. Ralph Nader and others have called this the Republicrat party. This year Tsongas has been the most strident voice for the Republicrat agenda and he has most of the Democratic corporate base with him. But Perot has turned out to be the most innovative and clever of the fusion candidates. What makes the fusion movement appealing to many voters is that it seems to rest on a common sense plank: You can’t have prosperity if you are “anti-business.” In a recession, the argument carries strength. It’s always more difficult for government to impose regulatory burdens when business is bad. The leverage of organized business is increased by the perceived need to do everything possible to create jobs. And for the voter on the unem ANDERSON & COMPANY. COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 51 2 4531 533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip ployment line all else is mere abstraction. Perot is inspiring hope that the economy could be better managed. His candidacy is another sign that the Reagan-era belief that “government is the problem” is losing its hold. People are looking to Perot out of a belief that the rational, competent management of public affairs is still possible. The ’70s seemed to suggest that the Democrats weren’t much good at it, and the ’80s showed that Republicans didn’t much care about it. But if citizens are following Perot as a neither/nor choice, they may be fooling themselves. He is more accurately seen as both Republican and Democrat. He is leading a friendly takeover in which the right wing of the Democratic party marries the moderate wing of the Republican party and names H. Ross Perot as CEO. The guiding principle will be the usual corporate imperative: What’s good for big business is good for America. The clever stroke on Perot’s part is to sell himself as a populist candidate the outsider who will buy the Presidency on behalf of the people. He touts his campaign as a grassroots phenomenon and makes frequent use of the rhetoric of democracy. . He wants to return power to “the owners” of the country. What one finds in Perot’s vision of democracy, though, is once again the mindset of the corporate executive. He yearns for what all executives pine after: Unity of goals and strategy, greater control, less dissent and, above all, greater efficiency. Since the late ’60s he has cherished the idea of hooking the citizenry up in “electronic town halls” and often holds forth the idea to demonstrate his dedication to the democratic process. Yet each time he speaks of the idea it is in the same form; he seems to have thought no further about it than to recognize its technological efficiency. He seems to have nothing to say about the possibility of propagandistic manipulation. He seems to have no real argument that democratic participation can be made effective through television. If it saves time and trouble, it must be a good product. There are other valid reasons to worry about Perot. He has shown little appreciation for civil liberties and other democratic niceties that sometimes seem to get in the way of his objectives. When he joined Gov. Clements in the Texas War on Drugs campaign, he had no compunction about giving state police new authority to plant wiretaps on phones and bugs in the homes of citizens suspected of drug crimes. Nor has he shown respect for the privacy rights of his corporate employees or his business competitors. Anyone who has studied Perot’s background must know that fundamentally he would stand opposed to the democratization of the nation’s financial institutions. No businessman truly believes that the people ought to have a say in controlling the economic institutions that rule our lives. Surely Perot wouldn’t favor an activist Congress on economic matters one that sought new oversight over Federal Reserve control of monetary policy, or that sought to strengthen the Community Re-investment Act so that banks were forced to be less discriminatory in making loans, or that insisted that by sinking so much tax money into bank bailouts there ought to be new public control over those institutions. Perot has already expressed his desire to take away Congress’s power to raise taxes. And of course, Perot could fairly easily get away with shifting power from Congress to the Executive branch because Congress has so discredited itself. By serving so long as handmaiden of the moneyed interests, Congress is not seen as a realistic repository for the people’s democratic hopes. But if Perot were a true thinking democrat, this is where his concern would lie. He would advocate ways of increasing the public’s power through all levels of representative government. The test is not whether he favors giving the people an electronic referendum. The right to vote and to participate was won in previous decades. The true democrat in the post-Cold War world is the one who is thinking of ways to give people control of government and then give the government control of the economy so that it is run in the interests of those in the middle and at the bottom. That’s a lot to expect from someone who has lived so much of his life handing down decisions from the top. With Perot in the race there’s not the slightest chance of predicting the outcome of November’s election. Any guess is as good as another right now; it wouldn’t be kooky to wager that Bill Clinton will be the first Democrat in modern times to lose Massachusetts where he is hugely unpopular and win the White House. Or, he might be the only Democrat ever to carry Arkansas and no other state. It’s hard to imagine Perot’s coalition of potential voters holding together. His loyal core is made up of small businessmen and would-be entrepreneurs who look at Perot with something approaching hero-worship. He has also attracted his share of MIA fanatics, paramilitary buffs and other “superpatriots.” But will he be able to keep the sensible and moderate independents and those who want to desert the two parties? After the inevitable negative TV ad blitz against him, he is bound to lose some of that support. But even if the fates bring us four more years of Bush, the nation is clearly ready for something else, and either the Democratic Party or some other party will have to step forward to be that something else. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 29
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