... and all I'd have to lose is my point of view.”
-- “A Good Time” John Prine
-- “A Good Time” John Prine
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I’m thinking today about George McGovern, politics in general, and what it all means to me.
McGovern died yesterday morning at the ripe old age of ninety. Senator George McGovern is a hero of mine. As anybody over the age of forty-five can tell you, McGovern met an ignominious defeat at the hands of Richard Nixon and his merry band of “ratf*ckers” - as they referred to themselves - in the 1972 presidential election. If you want the full story of how bad that election was for McGovern, you can find a pretty good short history here, or if you want a more in depth version, read Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland. It’s a great read and one of my all-time favorite books.
Senator George McGovern was a WWII hero who opposed the Vietnam War. McGovern, who flew thirty-five missions in a B-24 over enemy territory during WWII, opposed the Vietnam War early on and very vocally, and history shows that he was right. George McGovern was also responsible for democratizing the Democratic Party after the Chicago convention debacle in 1968. Thanks to McGovern, Democratic presidential candidates are now chosen openly, rather than in the smoke filled backrooms of yore. You can read about McGovern’s career in any number of reputable history books, so I won’t waste time or space here. Long story short, he wasn’t perfect, but George McGovern stood up for what he believed in.
Conservatives and middle of the road Democrats have vilified McGovern for years for representing everything bad about the Democratic Party, but he really didn’t. On the contrary, try imaging America without Richard Nixon’s malignant influence: no Watergate scandal, and no CIA backed 1973 Chilean coup that put another evil man, Augusto Pinochet, in power, to name just a few of Nixon’s slimy actions. George McGovern was an honorable man, and this would be a better country had he been elected in 1972.
Politics to me is what sports are to a lot of people, only my Super Bowl happens every four years. The earliest presidential election that I was fully cognizant of was the 1972 election. My dad was chairman of the Wasatch County Democratic Party, and he used to get all kinds of cool election paraphernalia in the mail. I remember he once received a large George McGovern campaign button, which he gave to me. I wish I still had it. This is it, right here:
Anyway, I’m a Democrat by choice and a liberal by inclination. I’ve been vocal about where I stand in this election - I don’t like or trust the Republican candidate for a variety of different reasons. Here in Utah, that is a big deal, because the Republican candidate for president is a member of the predominant religion, and the vast majority of people here feel as if they have a personal stake in seeing him succeed (despite his slipperiness). I’ve lost a few Facebook friends because of my outspoken attitude about the election, which seems absurd to me, but whatever. If I dropped every friend who disagreed with me with me politically, I’d have about ten friends left. Hell, I’m sure I have many friends and family members who disagree with what I wrote about McGovern in this blog post. So be it.
John Prine said it best in the Nixon era song I posted above. I can live with it.