I was in grade school the first time I saw Ross Perot on TV. I was instantly enamored by the way he spoke. Even at a young age I knew I was fascinated by the things he talked about. I was young enough I didn’t fully understand, after all I was barely in the 3rd grade. But he is absolutely the reason I became so fascinated not only in politics but also business. The way he presented his argument with those charts, it just mesmerized me.
It wasn’t long before I started developing that interest in politics into a passion. I still remember Nickelodeon making fun of Perot in a number of skits as part of its All That program. The show might have contributed to my awareness of the individual. While I was in 5th grade my interest in how our government works increased tremendously following a field trip to the state capital. It was one of those times where I knew whatever life threw my way I was going to find a way to be involved in politics one way or another.
When I was in high school I turned my interest in politics into a term as student council president of my entire school. That experience was a game changer for me. I distinctly remember the first time we sat down in a room to discuss something as simple as hosting a dance for the school. It turned into a divisive yelling match that demonstrated how polarizing politicking can be at even a young age. Ultimately we never came to terms on the dance and it was handed down to the eighth grade body who took it over while we washed our hands of it. It wasn’t the high note of my young political career. It was a hardy reminder of how different people can be and how hard it is to get them to agree on even something as basic as hiring a DJ.
Even following his passing I was reminded how complex people can be listening to all the responses of others who had their own memories of the man. I admittedly never met him nor did I have any work related to his life. I have interviewed politicians before for my newspaper but never Ross Perot, sadly. Based on the stories I was told by colleagues who had that opportunity I can say I kind of wish I had been given a chance to cover him at some point but alas it is not to be.
I don’t want to write an editorial on his life or even a commentary on his political views. Rather I just want to remember as fondly as I can how one man’s campaign for president inspired me to get interested in politics in general.