Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Perot's Candidacy Will at Least Make It Interesting

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Perot's Candidacy Will at Least Make It Interesting

Article excerpt

THE prospective candidacy of Ross Perot has the potential for turning this year's presidential election into one of the most interesting of the century. It also will have the effect of raising important questions about the way we conduct our national political life, questions that might not have arisen without a strong independent candidate. And quite as obviously it raises an air of uncertainty as we begin the summer.

Given the patent dissatisfaction with the way government is operating at the federal level, the candidacy of someone with the attention-getting power of Mr. Perot should not be compared with any third-party effort in memory. Perot has said that he will not be caught defining his position on major subjects in sound-bites for television. This should not obscure the fact that he has already shown himself a master of the earthy kind of one-liners that appeal to much in the American psyche. Whatever the final judgment on him, we will all be listening.

The candidacy raises questions about the ways in which we finance our campaigns. Quick to answer the charge that he is trying to buy the presidency, Perot counters that he is using his own money and not the taxpayers'. As a nation, we have not been in the habit of turning our backs on some of our wealthy families, such as the Rockefellers, who have rendered decades of major public service. His candidacy will certainly raise questions about the role of political action committees (PACs), particularly in the funding of congressional campaigns.

The candidacy may also raise questions about the future role of the two major political parties. Over the course of this century, they seem to have been less successful at the national level at harmonizing conflicting regional interests than they once were. Do the two parties actually represent something different in the stream of American thought today? Most of us would say that the Republicans stand more for the emphasis on individual freedom, at least in the economic sphere, and the Democrats for the emphasis on fairness and justice in this democracy. …

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