Sunday, October 21, 2012

In 1972, The Better Man Didn't Win

... he lost in a landslide.   But McGovern had the last laugh when Nixon's paranoia and ambition caused his presidency to implode.

Rest in Peace George McGovern

I wonder how many people remember that this soft-spoken man who became everyone's stereotype of the "bleeding heart liberal" was an ace fighter pilot in World War II and a decorated hero of the Battle of Guadalcanal (together with another famous "bleeding heart liberal," the late Bishop Paul Moore).  If anyone had a right to condemn a pointless war, a colonial war we inherited from the French that made a lot of people a lot of money (the real winners were the military contractors like Kellogg Brown and Root, or "Kellogg Burn and Loot" as it was known to American troops), it was George McGovern.

If time and chance had conspired differently, and McGovern won in 1972,  the USA would have been out of Vietnam much sooner with fewer dead on all sides.  The outcome of that war would still have been the same.

George McGovern was the last heir to that populist progressivism that once included everyone from Eugene V. Debs to William Jennings Bryan.   That progressivism saw all Americans as stake-holders in their country regardless of wealth or position.  And now the imperial oligarchy McGovern resisted all his life seems poised to take over permanently and bring to an end the world's oldest constitutional democracy.  Perhaps in the end, the real prophets of the future will be Dick Cheney and Vladimir Putin.

May George McGovern have the Peace that Passes All Understanding as the American Empire he resisted so stubbornly buries him with grudging ceremony.


During my years in Congress and for the four decades since, I've been labeled a 'bleeding-heart liberal.' It was not meant as a compliment, but I gladly accept it. My heart does sometimes bleed for those who are hurting in my own country and abroad. A bleeding-heart liberal, by definition, is someone who shows enormous sympathy towards others, especially the least fortunate. Well, we ought to be stirred, even to tears, by society's ills. And sympathy is the first step toward action. Empathy is born out of the old biblical injunction 'Love the neighbor as thyself.'
—George S. McGovern, What It Means to Be a Democrat (2011).


Leonard Clark said...

I too remember this fine man (and the man that he lost to in a far different light). Thank you for this tribute to Governor McGovern who was also my choice for President. Rest in Peace


Amen to all of that. Nicely written, as always.

JCF said...

I hadn't heard he died (I've been gone over the weekend, away from the internet).

George McGovern was the first politician I chose to work for. I was 10 (yes, I got a ride to his HQ and events w/ my mom, who was working for him, but my involvement was strictly voluntary!).

He came to Sacramento late in the '72 campaign. He came to Cal Expo (the State Fair site). He was HOURS late (as was typical of him and the Dems at that time. Who said "I'm not a member of an organized political party: I'm a Democrat"? Will...Will somebody). I'd made a huge rolled up sign that said "Sacramento Needs McGovern" . . . but then I was afraid to ask a stranger to help me unfurl it (my introversion was already strong!). I honestly don't remember what he said when he finally got there (midnight or later?). I mainly remember his campaign slogan: "Come Home America!" (from frickin' Vietnam)

When Obama was elected in '08, I thought that he was the best Presidential candidate I'd had SINCE McGovern (whom of course I didn't get to vote for: why can't they lower the voting age to 10? ;-p).

...but he was still a distant second to the True (Democratic) Blue Bleeding Heart.

RIP, George.

Ciss B said...

I voted for him, and was miserable when he lost. We lost a fabulous leader, a true hero, and a true Democrat.

MarkBrunson said...

I really didn't know much about him, and, as I've learned more, I'm sorry I didn't know much about him.

Counterlight said...

I must confess, that I DIDN'T vote for McGovern in 1972 (too young), and I didn't support him at the time. Remember, I grew up in a Republican household in Texas, and at the time, I was a true believer along with my father (who suffered with Nixon all the way to the end). My first vote 4 years later was for Jerry Ford.

What changed my mind? Oh lots of things, including the discovery that I wasn't what I thought I was or was expected to be, and that this discovery put me outside my native tribe. But that was much later.