As Republicans size up their candidates, as they did in Iowa, and
listen to calls for a third party standing on hard-core conservative
principles, they should not forget what happened in 1992. Although Bill
Clinton won the election by winning 370 electoral votes in 34 states, he
received only 43 percent of the popular vote. Which means that 57
percent of the voters did not want Clinton as president. Yet, we got
him and Hillary, and have had to suffer what became the most corrupt and
squalid White House administration in American history.
In other words, in 1992 we had a conservative landslide and a liberal
victory. Actually, the vote that year was a massive repudiation of the
Democrat Party and the liberal philosophy of government it represents.
In other words, the supposedly most moderate of the Democrats could not
muster more than 43 percent of the popular vote, even though Dukakis got
45.6 percent in 1988. Only a split of the conservative vote permitted
Bill Clinton to take power in the White House.
The liberal strategy of splitting the conservative vote worked back
in 1912, when Teddy Roosevelt split Republicans between his Bull Moose
Party and the GOP, which backed Taft for the presidency. That split
permitted liberal Woodrow Wilson to become President. And it was under
Wilson that we got the federal income tax, the Federal Reserve System
and entry into World War I.
Was Perot set up in 1992 to deliberately split the conservatives and
permit the Democrats to win? Perot had no consistent philosophy of
government, but he used a lot of charts to alarm Americans about the
deficit. Those who voted for Perot were certainly not liberal
Democrats. The Perotistas would have voted Republican had Bush been a
true-blue conservative instead of a Jim Baker pragmatic, country-club
“moderate.” The problem with Bush was that he was never an ideological
conservative in the Reagan mold, and he could never convincingly
articulate conservative principles because they were never part of his
The only time Bush sounded like a true conservative was when he made
his famous “read my lips” speech written for him by Peggy Noonan.
Conservatives had hoped that he had undergone a conversion and really
believed in what he was saying. But when he took the advice of Richard
Darman and surrendered to liberal congressional pressure and agreed to
raise taxes, conservatives felt betrayed and humiliated.
Moreover, it was the flippant, uncaring way that Bush reneged on his
promise of “no new taxes” that angered conservatives. Instead of going
to the public on TV and explaining why he could not keep his promise, he
behaved as if promises were made to be broken — especially promises
made during an election campaign.
Bush had stood up to Saddam Hussein and gained an unprecedented
approval rating of over 80 percent. Had he stood up to the
tax-and-spend Democrat-controlled Congress and held firm on his “no new
taxes” promise, he would have had an equally high approval rating from
the vast majority of Americans. But Bush preferred the advice of Darman
and Baker over the advice of Helms, Buchanan and other conservatives.
The result was disaster for the Republicans in 1992.
The Buchanan vote in the primaries of that campaign indicated the
degree of anger and betrayal conservatives felt. Bush simply didn’t
realize how much he owed conservatives, and since then he hasn’t let on
that he believed he owed them anything. He, Baker and Darman, moderates
to the core, just assumed that conservatives would back the Republicans
because they had nowhere else to go.
In addition, then-Vice President Quayle made it clear that he
believed the Bush tax increase was responsible for the prolonged
recession. In other words, Bush not only reneged on his pledge of “no
new taxes,” but helped bring about the very recession that undermined
Obviously, in 1992 Perot took more votes away from Bush than from
Clinton. And it is quite possible that Perot would have actually done
better than Bush in many states had he not quit in the middle of his
campaign and made a fool of himself about his daughter’s wedding and
chosen a more credible running mate than “who am I and why am I here.”
Nevertheless, Perot managed to garner 20 percent or more of the popular
vote in 30 states!
Further, those states in which Perot did well were not only
conservative states like Utah and Idaho, but also in such liberal states
as Massachusetts and Connecticut. And now, with the popular,
charismatic Jesse Ventura representing the Reform Party in a more
positive light than its eccentric founder, who knows what will happen in
the year 2000?
If the conservative vote is again divided in 2000 between
Republicans, Reformers, and another conservative party, Al Gore or Bill
Bradley may actually become president with a vote of 40 percent or even
less. Jesse Ventura won in Minnesota with a vote of less than 40
percent. Can George W. Bush or Steve Forbes get 45 percent or more of
the vote in 2000?
There is still a long way to go before the election in November of
2000. But the lessons of 1992 should not be forgotten. Too much is at
Samuel L. Blumenfeld is the author of eight books on education,
including “NEA: Trojan Horse in American Education” and “The Whole
Language/OBE Fraud.” Blumenfeld’s books are available on
from the Paradigm Company, 208-322-4440.