In Memoriam: George McGovern
Yesterday, October 21, 2012, former U.S. Congressman and Presidential candidate, George Stanley McGovern, passed away at age 90. Here, Joshua M. Glasser, author of The Eighteen-Day Running Mate: McGovern, Eagleton, and a Campaign in Crisis, eulogizes McGovern using insight from the candidate’s own notes.
Joshua M. Glasser—
Twenty years after his 1972 campaign, George McGovern contemplated a final run for president. He scribbled a memo to himself, “Why I May Run for President in 1992,” outlining his case for another try. The perceptibly radical “McGovern Army” had by then become the Democratic Party establishment, and he wrote on his scraps of paper, “I cannot walk down any street in America, or ride on an airplane, or visit a restaurant, hotel lobby or public building without being told by strangers that the high point of their political experience was working in the ’72 campaign.” McGovern also recalled the mission of his 1972 run for the presidency and assessed how history had proven him right on so many issues. “We were right in denouncing the Vietnam War as a major disaster and calling for immediate U.S. disengagement,” McGovern observed. “We were right in contending that America was exaggerating the military challenge to the country while underestimating the economic challenge from abroad. . . . We were right about the danger of environmental pollution, educational mediocrity, and declining productivity. We were also right in calling for reform of the tax system, welfare, healthcare, and defense. Needless to say, we were right in worrying about Watergate and corruption in the Nixon administration. Indeed, the platform of 1972 seems amazingly in tune with the needs of today.” Alas, much of the McGovern campaign’s platform still speaks to the issues facing America today.
Joshua M. Glasser is the author of The Eighteen-Day Running Mate: McGovern, Eagleton, and a Campaign in Crisis, now available from Yale University Press. He is also an associate producer for Bloomberg Television in New York and a magna cum laude graduate of Amherst College, Eagleton’s alma mater. He lives in New York City.