Of George McGovern Senator Robert Kennedy once said, “ He is the most decent man in the United States Senate. Perhaps the only decent man in the United States Senate.” After his disastrous 1972 presidential campaign such decency helped propel McGovern into a political punch line for decades but the joke, ultimately was on us: instead of a man who would have ended the Vietnam war in a week, we got Nixon who prolonged it for years resulting in the pointless slaughter of thousands more American soldiers and many more thousands of Vietnamese men, women and children. Instead of intelligent liberalism, we got Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton and Bush father and son culminating in a steady Right ward drift so pronounced that Richard Nixon would be to the Left of both Obama and Romney on almost all major issues. And Nixon was no liberal. Indeed, after McGovern’s run we slowly slipped into such a state of political and intellectual depravity that the very words “liberal” and “liberalism” — words that describe the very political tradition and foundation on which the nation was formed — became, in many circles, the worst kind of put down — a political trajectory that has led many a former blue collar liberal down the suicidal yellow brick road of the Tea Party.
But not for George McGovern who knew of what he spoke and cared about what he saw happening to his country and his compatriots.
Until and unless men and women of the integrity and decency of McGovern can not merely obtain office but hold real sway in the American political landscape – seemingly impossible in an age of oligarchy and corporate domination of everything – we are doomed to shills like Romney and Obama ever deepening oligarchy and corporate domination of everything. And we doom ourselves.
Rest in peace, Senator McGovern. You did your bit and you did it nobly and fearlessly. You kept the flame in a time of ever deepening darkness. You fought the good fight.
Now it is our turn.