The Democratic Party’s 1972 Presidential nominee George McGovern has died at the age of 90. The despicable campaign against him by Tricky Dick and CREEP created the template for future GOP campaigns. McGovern was demonized, characitured and slandered in a race that Nixon would have won anyway. McGovern was a decorated bomber pilot in World War, who was accused of treason over his opposition to our stupid war in Vietnam by GOPers whose own standard bearer spent WWII in uniform but safely out of the combat zone. Sound familiar?
McGovern spent 3 terms in the Senate, and along with Bob Dole, was one of the creators of the food stamp program, which was aimed at helping farmers as much as poor folks. That aspect of the program has been forgotten, alas.
The 1972 election was the first one I was old enough to pay attention to. It was a horror for Democrats as not only did we lose but we looked horrible doing so. It wasn’t just Trick Dick and the ratfuckers: McGovern’s disastrous pick of Tom Eagleton and the serial turn downs by his top replacement choices sealed his fate. BUT his primary campaign was a classic, it was essentially the model for most subsequent nomination candidacies. Yup, it wrote the template. 1972 was a big template year.
I do feel that McGovern had a case
that he shouldn’t be portrayed as a loser, but a victim. Not even a
noble loser because that sends a message that all morally driven
politics is destined to fail nobly. He was the victim of a crook and
liar covering up an illegal war killing our own people and countless
innocent Asian peasants. He was the misfortune of competing against a
man who had no regard for the Constitution he had sworn to defend.
Looking back now on my phone conversation with McGovern, I think I
thought at the time he was being unrealistic. If so, I was wrong.
I think George McGovern deserves to be remembered as a winner.