Sunday, October 21, 2012
Greatness has Left the Planet: George McGovern dies
In Memory George McGovern (July 19,1922-Oct 21, 2012)
That's all my brother and I ever had to call him. We knew which Senator we meant. His ill fated Presidential bid in 1972 was our baptism of fire into the world of politics. No more egar, idealistic, stary eyed kids ever burned up the spare time of their sophomore high school year than us. My first crushing political defeat, so devastating it led to my first drunk (the defeat party) and my first hang over (which felt like death).
From the defeat party they dorve me to the home of some guy they knew in the Hill Crest area of Dallas. Upper middle class homes. I'm left in the car while they do in. This guy has an Eastern European name which I wont say but that night I was so drunk I could not say it. So I began wondering the neighborhood knocking on doors and going "is this Less snlorebloxk bosh kie house?" They had to track me down several houses down the way from where they left me.
McGovern was born July 19th, that day day keeps popping up in m life. Herbert Marcuse, another hero died on July 19th and that same July 19, 1979 the Nicaraguan revolution triumphed.
He was a bomber pilot in WWII, he flew a B-24 and was decorated for valor.. Elected to the senate from his native South Dakota in early 60s, he pushed a program of "food for peace," fighting communism by feeding the third world. The Senator was one of the first to speak against the war in Vietnam, a courageous pioneer who was mocked and ridiculed, labeled a communist but who stuck to his guns. When Robert Kennedy was assassinated McGovern was ask to stand in as the replacement candidate for his campaign.
He ran for President again in 84 or 88. and of cousre lost in the primaries and fairly early. He spent his last years in Eruope working for United Nations. See Los Angles Times coverage. McGovern was a Methodist when to a Wesleyan college on the GI bill after the war. He was an avid reader of philosophy and in his college days was taken with the works of Walter Rauschenbusch a leader in the "social Gospel" the forerunner movement of liberation theology.
His 72 Campaign got off to a rocky start then went down hill. He said he was behind Egalton "a thousand percent." Then dropped him form the ticket when it was revealed he had been in a mental institution. He chose Kenndy bother-in-law R.Sargent Shriver (father of Maria) to replace Egalton. Everyone began to say "O he just flip flopps all the time and can't make up his mind." Nixon, the master of atheist style campaigning, branded him a communist. People said "he's a wild eyed radical it would be a disaster if he was in." They never read his campagin literature, they didn't know his popsitons on anything. They were certain he was a dangerous radical. He changes his mind all the time. I had debats in every calss I was in. The other side was always stunned with how rational he sounded when I got through. No one changed their minds.
During the campaign I couldn't keep track of how many people said "it doesn't matter, that Watergate thing is no big deal." That next year after Watergate summer everyone said "O guess you were right." some said 'I guess I should have voted for McGovern after all." I lost count of how many people said I see you were right after all.
Just the way people are. they don't reason, they don't bother to learn the facts they just go along get along until it's too late then look to the past and go "we should have listened." But we are not going to listen now!
I think McGovern appealed to the Texan upbringing of my brother and I. We raised to admire the Alamo and the fight-to-the-death-for-your-beliefs mentality. That's what McGovern always symbolized for me. He was a symbol of my youthful idealism, my compassion or the oppressed, and the never say die fighting spirit that's willing to risk and lose all for higher beliefs.