Americans who rallied to the banner of H. Ross Perot are entitled to sympathy, not only because they were taken by a Texas swashbuckler but because they now will be wooed by the Republican and Democratic Establishments they rebuffed in the first place. Their initial temptation, we suspect, is to say the hell with it and boycott the political process. This temptation should be resisted.
What was attractive about the Perot voters, despite their gullibility, was their desire to do something about a political system that needs a lot of fixing. Now, having been burned once, they should not quickly jump to George Bush or Bill Clinton. Perot adherents may indeed have been naive, but they instinctively knew something was wrong. They were wary of the Washington gridlock, the cozy interplay between a Republican White House and a Democratic Congress which Potomac politicians profess to hate but really love.
And so Perot supporters turned to a panacea-peddler who thought or pretended to think that running a good government was as "simple" as running a business he dominated utterly. What did in Mr. Perot was his misunderstanding of democracy -- of the unsimple way in which contending forces wind up in messy solutions that form the continuum of public life. That he could not handle a political campaign is a pretty good indication he could not have handled a government.