Sunday, October 21, 2012

George McGovern: Acts of Faith

"Politics is an act of faith; you have to show some kind of confidence in the intellectual and moral capacity of the public."
"No man should advocate a course in private that he's ashamed to admit in public."
"The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one's country deep enough to call her to a higher plain."
"For many years, I wanted to run for the presidency in the worst possible way - and last year, I sure did."
"I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in."
George McGovern, July 19, 1922-October 21, 2012
Early this morning, former Senator George McGovern died in hospice in Sioux Falls, SD. He was 90 years old and surrounded by friends and family.

McGovern was a proud liberal till the very end. A man who had "learned to hate war by waging it" as a decorated World War II bomber pilot, he was the Democratic Party's nominee to challenge President Nixon's re-election in 1972.

While I had been somewhat aware of the players in the 1968 Presidential election, and as a kid in Massachusetts, certainly was caught up in the tragedy of of Bobby Kennedy's assassination, it was the election of 1972 - and its aftermath - that first truly sucked me into the life of a political junkie. At the age of eleven I walked our precinct with my mother getting word out about McGovern, and on election day we stood outside the polling place (in the snow) with our last-ditch effort electioneering.

Of course, the result was that Nixon was re-elected in a landslide, carrying 49 states, and ceding to McGovern only the District of Columbia and Massachusetts. I was both devastated and fascinated by the results and began collecting souvenirs of the trouncing: bumper stickers bearing the slogans "Massachusetts the One and Only" and "Nixon 49/America 1," a pin that simply read "OS4MY" (for, "Oh Shit, Four More Years!"), and other memorabilia that I only wish I could still find.

Of course, even before the election was over, there was some question of dirty tricks involving Nixon's team doing something over at the Democratic Headquarters located in the Watergate Hotel and office complex. I followed the Watergate hearings closely. As for many others of my generation, this was hugely formative in how I would see politics and government for the rest of my life.

By the middle of 1974 both Nixon, and his VP, Spiro Agnew, had resigned in disgrace, and I had moved to California. I would eventually earn a BA in Politics and a Master of Public Policy and Administration. My career would allow me to have meetings with legislators at all levels of government. I would volunteer on a few more Presidential campaigns. But the inspiration and dedication of that first candidate, George McGovern, and the lessons of 1972-1974 have never been far behind.

My thoughts go out to the McGovern family and all those who knew this great man and hero to the left. I only hope that before he passed, he sent in his absentee ballot.
The blogger in 1972; the t-shirt says, "Vote."
Read more at:
The McGovern Center
George McGovern @ Wikipedia


  1. lovely post. was this the year of the 'don't blame me, i'm from massachusetts' slogan? or was that the earlier nixon election? a good man, mcgovern, and to say that of a mainstream politician is to say a lot......

    1. Yes, that was another of the bumper stickers I had, "Don't Blame Me; I'm From Massachusetts." Thanks for reminding me :^)

  2. Reading your post brought back so many memories of past elections and thank you for sharing your story. It is our history to make and be a part of. They will then be our memories and our legacy.


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