RIP George McGovern

The brilliant former senator and Democratic nominee for the presidency in 1972 passed away this morning at the age of 90. McGovern was a fierce advocate for women’s rights, LGBT rights and a foreign policy aimed at promoting peace long before any of the above were popular. I never had the opportunity to meet the man, and was born well too late to have had the chance to vote for him. I know him mostly through my study of American history and through Hunter S. Thompson’s seminal Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail: ’72. Yet I agree fully with Thompson that this was a great and principled man. He will be sorely missed. 

McGovern — as Chris Hedges points out — never abandoned his principles, took the position he thought was right rather than what was convenient. It’s highly unlikely — given Citizens United and the nature in which we select presidential candidates nowadays  — we’ll see a politician of his calibre again: someone fearless, unconcerned with polling or popular opinion, but striving to do what’s right for the sake of the fact that it’s right. Contemporary politics is so dominated by behind-the-scenes money, stage-managing, and the false belief that polling data provides a blueprint for true leadership. McGovern wouldn’t stand a chance in the current political environment, but he remains a scion of what America at its best does at its best — support a man or woman whose convictions genuinely lead to a better future.

My condolences to his family and friends, but a great American from whom we all can learn has left us today. May he rest in peace.

Sen. George McGovern (1922-2012)

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~ by Benji on 21 October 2012.

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