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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Vote for McGovern!

That's what I did, in 1972,  in Greenwich Village, and it was my first vote.  Wasn't exactly a tough one, given Nixon and the war and everything else.   We had just put McGovern on the cover of Crawdaddy, including endorsements from the likes of Abbie Hoffman and Jane Fonda and Joseph Heller.  How badly did McGovern lose?  He even lost New York.  No matter.  He stuck to his guns for the forty years afterward.  Now comes news of his passing.

Actually, I met him, sort of,  four years before that, in Chicago, at the riotous Democratic Convention.  I was there covering it as a summer intern for my local newspaper, after founding  the Gene McCarthy for President group on my campus.  McGovern had agreed to carry the torch, and the delegates, of the Robert F. Kennedy faction after the RFK assassination.  There was no love lost between the Kennedy and McCarthy campaign activists, although they were united in opposing LBJ, Humphrey and the war.  The McCarthyites felt Kennedy had been too afraid to enter the race until their man had bloodied Johnson (which was true) but the Kennedyites believed McCarthy had no chance to win and didn't care enough about the poor (which was partly true).

But after RFK's death the fight went out of a dazed and disgusted McCarthy even though he now had a clearer path to a showdown with Humphrey.  The McGovernites were the passionate crew now.  In Chicago, I attended a couple of McGovern press conferences and literally bumped into him at one of them. He was full of vigor--unlike McCarthy who had taken on a sad, poetic air.  George seemed like a great guy. He told me, in passing, that a third party run was not out of the question.

Later, when I joined the crowd in the streets on the night of the infamous "police riot" (see my account here),  McGovern delegates and other supporters joined us after marching from the convention hall. McGovern never stopped marching in the years after.

1 comment:

Mike Pearson said...

Being younger, Canadian and and non-political, I was drawn to George McGovern through his association with Hunter Thompson. Footage of those days, and later McGovern interviews about their time together showed a very compassionate and caring man.