Remembering George McGovern | Street Jazz

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Remembering George McGovern

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 1:19 PM

It has become fashionable over the years (especially among those who weren’t actually around at the time) to sneer at the late George McGovern, the Democratic candidate who was was so badly beaten by Richard Nixon 40 years ago. Ironically, it often seemed to be George McGovern that Mitt Romney was channeling in last night’s debate, with his prattling about how we all want to live in a world that is at peace.

McGovern, an actual World War II flying ace, knew more about war and peace than Mitt Romney could ever hope to learn.

For so long in America, you had to be 21 years of age to be able to vote. But really, as the argument went, if you were old enough to die for your country, you were surely old enough to help pick its leaders, and so, wisely, our nation changed with the times.

I was living in Germany during the bulk of the 1972 presidential campaign, as my father was stationed at Zweibrücken Air Force base. But just because we were living overseas didn’t mean that we didn’t have access to American magazines and newspapers.

It was an exciting time in America, to say the least.

But it was also a nation highly divided. The Vietnam War, civil rights, integration of schools in Boston - we watched in all unfold from thousands of miles away.

There are those who would assume that military dependents would automatically be conservative, and I suppose that some are. But Zweibrücken was an oasis from the world of conservatism - something that is difficult to describe even to those attended the same school many years later.

When there was a national day of protest against the Vietnam War, and millions of Americans wore black armbands, many in our school - on a military base - did the same thing.

When I read Newsweek, Time or our daily paper, Stars and Stripes (which pulled in stories from AP and UPI) it seemed that the country was ready for George McGovern. I knew that I was, at the age of 18.

The night that he won the nomination, I listened to it in the wee small hours of the morning on Armed Forces Radio. I followed the race intently, especially after we returned to the states that summer, landing in my father’s hometown in Pennsylvania.

If I had been surrounded by young people who were knowledgeable about politics and world events in Germany, the exact opposite was true in Pennsylvania. Most of my classmates were conservative - though not not from any careful analysis of the facts in their own minds. They, like so many other young people, simply adopted their parents’ world view, without a second thought.

There was, literally, nobody in this school to talk to about the upcoming election with.

That hardly dampened my enthusiasm, however.

In my mind, it was a foregone conclusion that the country would vote out Richard M. Nixon, a man who had proven time and again to be unworthy of their trust. Sadly, this was not to be the case.

I truly thought that most people believed as I did, with the values that I gotten from church, reading, and, yes, Boy Scouts.

My own personal sense of loss was doubled when I opened the paper and discovered that NBC had cancelled Bonanza the day before.

Over the years I have seen only one other Democrat even approach McGovern’s level of liberal idealism, and that was Jimmy Carter. I have heard hundreds of sneering references to that 1972 campaign over the years, usually, as I wrote, from people who were never around in the first place.

But also, over the years, I have met many who still remember their support for him in 1972, and we drink a toast to days-gone-by, to innocence and hope for the future. And like me, many still retain the beliefs they held 40 years ago, and haven’t let the cynicism of others dampen their resolve.


TV westerns and liberal idealism

It actually was sort of fitting that Bonanza was cancelled the same week that McGovern lost the election. More than one activist has said over the years that the values they learned watching television westerns formed their political and social beliefs, and Bonanza, one of the most liberal shows of the 1960s, was no exception.

You think I’m wrong?

Watch a few episodes.


Mass Shootings and Gender Equity - II

No sooner had I written of the Florida killings, when along comes the incident in Wisconsin - another sickening story where women are shot down in the work place.

Yes, this time it made front page news, but will it start a conversation about gun violence?

I won’t even answer that one.


Charlie Collins versus the “liberal Washington DC machine”

Republican Charlie Collins - who is actually quite a personable fellow when you meet him - has sent a flyer out warning us that that the liberals in Washington DC are attacking him in his race for the Arkansas legislature.

I’m not going get into the specifics of Charlie versus the World here, but it’s been pretty apparent that the last few years that most (if not all) of the criticism of Comrade Collins and his votes in Little Rock the past few years have come from folks who actually live in Arkansas, and are affected by how he votes.

Claiming that some political machine in the faraway land of Washington DC is trying to destroy him - and, by extension, I suppose, the people of our fair state - will only only appeal to hardened Republicans and those sad folks known as known as “Low Information Voters.”

Nice try, though.


Second Amendment News: Children kept off playgrounds after 22 random shootings

In Wixom, Michigan, five schools in the community are keeping kids off playgrounds after a series of random shootings in the area.

Folks are also changing their routes to work.


Quote of the Day

The foolish person seeks happiness in the distance; the wise person grows it under his feet. - James Oppenheimer



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