Magazine article Monthly Review

Notes from the Editors

Magazine article Monthly Review

Notes from the Editors

Article excerpt

It seems that Ross Perot eventually came to see his bid for the presidency in much the same way as we did. We welcomed the Perot candidacy from the outset on the ground that it was likely to upset the apple cart and in the process provoke a serious political crisis. If there is any proven universal law of history, it is surely that nothing ever really changes except in response to a crisis. In this case the crisis might lead directly or indirectly to the breakup of the Republocrat cartel which has been the effective guardian of the status quo in this country for the past half century or so. And that in turn might open the way for political realignments that could set the country on a new course. As we pointed out in this space in the May issue, something similar has happened before on at least two occasions, in the 1850s/60s and in the 1930s. In a statement explaining his withdrawal from the race, Perot said that at the beginning there seemed a good chance that he could win the election outright, but that by July this no longer seemed possible, citing as a reason the rejuvenation of the Democratic Party. He had concluded that a three-way race would not produce a winner and would be likely to force the decision into the newly elected House of Representatives which would not be able to act until January. He didn't spell out why he thought this was such a big problem, and some commentators concluded that it was just a weak excuse for quitting under pressure. We prefer a less personal interpretation: that Perot now figured a hung election, far from solving anything, would only mess things up and might precipitate the kind of crisis we thought would be good for the country. But Perot, of course, is no radical. Faced with such a prospect, it is not surprising that he would pull out, with an implicit boost for the Democratic Party which, even if not really rejuvenated, at least presents an alternative to George Bush whom Perot is reliably reported to hold in low esteem.

So what's the lesson of the Perot candidacy? Apparently, that it is unrealistic to expect the U.S. ruling class, in the conditions that prevail in the world today, to generate from within its ranks a movement that might weaken, let alone destroy, the rather shaky institutional arrangements that assure its unchallenged dominance. …

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