Does anyone else remember when Ross Perot ran for President of the United States? He was a funny looking little guy with big ears and a Texas drawl that wouldn’t quit. He was a third party candidate in the election that included George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Bush was defeated in his bid for a second term and many folks thought that Perot was the reason that he lost, noting that Perot took votes that the President may have received. Anyway, Perot was a much tougher guy than he appeared to be. He had amassed a fortune making him a billionaire, and when Iran took several Americans hostage, he was the guy who planned, financed and executed their escape. He became a kind of folk hero in spite of his somewhat wimpy appearance, and at some point his groupies encouraged him to run for the highest office in the land on two different occasions. In many ways he was the precursor of Donald Trump, but with a more pleasing kind of “aw shucks” personality.
Perot was most notable for giving visual presentations of his views on the American economy. He used posters and a pointer to demonstrate the problems in our nation and the solutions that he advocated. While people poked fun at his methods, there was something about his way of explaining things that brought clarity to ideas that had previously been rather difficult to understand for the average person. He won over a number of followers because he laid out his ideas with his charts and graphs in a highly understandable folksy manner. He was a cross between a kooky professor and a cowboy, a strange fellow who had managed to outfox the bullies and the naysayers in real life.
I didn’t vote for Mr. Perot, but I still think about his visual aides and I often find myself wondering if we need someone with similar tendencies today to show us the truth about the various issues that we face in today’s supercharged atmosphere. There is a great deal of chatter about various topics, but very little effort to elucidate what various ideas and laws really mean. I have learned for example that there is real confusion over the so called Dreamers, immigrants who were brought here illegally by their parents when they were children. Many people feel little or no pity for their cause because they think that they should have done the work to become citizens before now, little realizing that it was not possible for them to become citizens because of their illegal status.
I sometimes imagine Mr. Perot with an easel and a set of posters outlining all of the truths about the Dreamers, one visual at a time. Of course his instructional moments would need to take no more than three minutes or so, because I have learned over time that few people have the ability to concentrate and comprehend for more than a couple of minutes before they begin to drift away into their own thoughts. Still I think that with a targeted series of demonstrations everyone would eventually understand all of the issues surrounding DACA and the Dreamers far better than they presently do.
Knowledge is power, but we are provided with so little of it these days. Instead most of our leaders leave us with soundbites, tweets, rants and memes that keep us in a state of ignorance. Mr. Perot on the other hand actually wanted us to know the facts, and while I didn’t exactly agree with his points of view or solutions for problems, I liked his style. Perhaps because I am a visual, linear learner I appreciate the clarity provided by seeing a sequence of visual explanations for things. They don’t have to actually be old school posters on easels. A nice Power Point presentation might work just as well, but then again there was something rather catchy about Mr. Perot’s homespun looking presentations without the bells and whistles of today’s Instructional programming. They were eye catching simply because they were so primitive.
So I’d like to suggest that either a politician or a journalist be very very honest in outlining all of the information surrounding the big issues of the day. We need to be taught about chain immigration including when and why it came about and what it’s effects are today. We must know more about what actually happens when the government shuts down and which agencies and individuals are actually affected. It would be good to take some time to go through lessons on the constitution, where we might learn about how each branch of government is supposed to work. Our discussions might move from the irate to the rational with proposals for solutions that actually reflect the realities of various situations. It would be quite a change from the ignorance that is almost encouraged these days to keep us in the dark and in political trances. Perhaps even our memes would change to brief but accurate sources of information. The possibilities are wondrous.
Somewhere along the way we’ve been led down a garden path. The politicians know that we are rather busy and can’t get around to gathering all of the information that we need to make good decisions, and so they have learned how to play on our emotions and turn us against one another. While we’re busy brawling, they are kicking the can of responsible governing farther and farther down the road. They leave office with guaranteed health insurance, pensions and usually more money than they had when they arrived. We in the meantime are more confused than ever about what to think. Let’s bring back Mr. Perot and his pointer. He’s only eighty seven. Surely he has the energy to be our guide once again. We don’t want to know his philosophies or ideas, just the facts, only the truth. Perhaps his true destiny has finally arrived.