George McGovern died today. The first year I was old enough to vote for president was 1972, thanks to the 26th amendment to the constitution, which lowered the voting age to 18 and enfranchised many of us for the first time. I voted for McGovern. Forty years later, I am glad I did, and wish I could have voted for him again.
Nixon won 49 states. McGovern won Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. The greatest landslide in history. Since then, McGovern has been regarded by Republicans as something of a joke. And by many Democrats as well, eager to run the other way. Their loss. He was a good man. An honest man. And he was right about many issues, the Vietnam War most notably. While Nixon was busy committing war crimes and lying to the country, McGovern spoke the truth.
Here we are again, with a Republican presidential nominee who is incapable of telling the truth and with a Democrat, I’m sorry to say, who seems to have learned more from Nixon than from McGovern, Nobel Peace Prize notwithstanding. (But hey, Nixon’s parter in war crime, Henry Kissinger, won the prize too, for ending the Vietnam War. Words fail.)
May we honor George McGovern with greater honesty in our political discourse, starting with the third presidential debate tomorrow night.