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Forum Post: George McGovern died today, if you care about people and peace, this is a sad day.

Posted 5 years ago on Oct. 21, 2012, 8:16 a.m. EST by factsrfun (8733) from Phoenix, AZ
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[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Rock on: George McGovern's candidacy a landmark for counterculture

Article by: HILLEL ITALIE , Associated Press

Updated: October 22, 2012 - 3:17 AM

NEW YORK - Abbie Hoffman sobbed that fateful night at the downtown Manhattan apartment of fellow activist Jerry Rubin. So did Rubin and Allen Ginsberg. John Lennon was drunk, and out of control, shouting "Up the Revolution!" in mock celebration of a dream defeated.

It was November 1972 and George McGovern had just been whipped in a landslide by Richard Nixon.

McGovern, who died Sunday at age 90, was the earnest son of a minister, raised on a South Dakota farm. He wasn't a longhair and he wasn't charismatic, not a man you'd expect to win the loyalty of rock stars or win the heart of Hoffman, the Yippie prankster who just four years earlier had suggested a pig run for president and said what America needed was nonstop sex in the streets.

But the candidate's steady liberal principles, and the timing of his run, made McGovern the first presidential nominee of a major political party to attract a broad and public following from the rebels who had come of age the decade before.

"He was the first candidate I voted for," says the activist and historian Todd Gitlin, who was in his late 20s at the time. "I think the support he got was a sign that the era of radical obstinacy was over."

The optimism was understandable. Hubert Humphrey had lost by fewer than 600,000 votes to Nixon in 1968, and the 1972 election was the first presidential campaign since the minimum voting age had been lowered from 21 to 18, potentially adding millions of (presumably) liberal young people to the rolls. And McGovern, in opposing a war expanded and advocated by Democratic presidents, had shaken the party's post-World War II tradition of aggressive anti-Communism.

"Humphrey was anathema to us in `68, and then we got McGovern and America suddenly seemed like a place where real choices were presented," says historian Jon Wiener, who has written often about the politics and culture of the Cold War era. "I remember election night, 1972, as like the worst night in American politics in my life. Here was this stark choice between war and peace, truth and lies, and the American people rushed to embrace truth and lies."

For many, McGovern's campaign promised the fulfillment of what Robert Kennedy might have achieved if not for his assassination in June 1968. Kennedy was just 42 at the time, energetic and wavy-haired. "Bobby Is Groovy," supporters' posters had read. His candidacy inspired one of the first presidential fundraising concerts to feature rock stars, when the Byrds played at a May 1968 concert that also included Sonny and Cher and gospel great Mahalia Jackson. (Humphrey's campaign attempted, in vain, to get a song out of Jefferson Airplane.)

When McGovern, aided by party rules he helped revise, became the surprise contender in 1972, the left felt revived. Hoffman and Rubin had mellowed just enough since 1968 to accept the nominee of a mainstream party. Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Julie Christie were among the young Hollywood stars who backed McGovern. Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner was an enthusiastic supporter, and McGovern was the rare candidate regarded sympathetically by the magazine's hell-raising reporter and Robert Kennedy admirer Hunter S. Thompson, who called McGovern "the most honest big-time politician in America."

The rock community gave McGovern the kind of hip cachet that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama would later receive. Simon & Garfunkel, who had broken up in 1970, reunited to perform on McGovern's behalf. Country Joe McDonald, known for his profane anti-war "Fish Cheer," also sang for him. The popular band Chicago was so dedicated that cultural historian Peter Doggett, in his book "There's a Riot Going On," referred to their 1972 tour as "virtually a McGovern roadshow, with every concert offering voter registration booths and Democratic propaganda."

Neil Young wrote "War Song," a jagged rocker with a hopeful chorus, "There's a man says/he can put an end to war." Ushers at a Madison Square Garden show, which starred Simon & Garfunkel and Dionne Warwick, included Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman and Gene Hackman. Tina Turner, "Mama" Cass Elliot and Judy Collins were among the singers at another Garden concert, "Star Spangled Women."

Lennon, who had emigrated to New York from England the year before, had been radicalized through his marriage to the artist Yoko Ono and through his friendships with Abbie Hoffman and Rubin. He was writing militant chants such as "Power to the People" and was anxious to help bring down the hated Nixon. By late 1971, he and Rubin were planning an all-star tour and voter registration drive. The idolized ex-Beatle probably could have had his pick of fellow rockers to join him.

Republican officials were worried. "If Lennon's visa were terminated, it would be a strategic counter-measure," read a memo prepared for Nixon's attorney general, John Mitchell. The administration began a long effort to deport the British native, based on a 1968 drug bust in London. Tied up in immigration proceedings, afraid that he was being followed and possibly in physical danger, Lennon called off the tour. But he remained a McGovern believer, and, Rubin would later explain, was sure that the Democrat would win as the singer and others gathered on election night.

"This is it?!" Lennon shouted as the results came in. "This is IT?!"

[Way before OWS and the birth of most of it's "members," we had the 60s-70s and a massive protest movement against the autocratic, Right Wing, MIC, System. And a great leader in (D) Senator George McGovern, for which Gary Hart and Bill Clinton, among others, worked. The movement and the Democratic Party were united in opposition to (R) POTUS Richard Nixon, but were fractured and sabotaged going into the 1972 election, and McGovern lost. Two years later, Nixon resigned in disgrace for various acts of treason, including the sabotage of the Democratic Party, known as the Watergate Scandal. Many of Nixon's men, like Cheney and Rumsfeld, went on to perpetrate in other RepubliCon regimes, Raygun, Bush and W's. McGovern went on to write books, like What it "Means to be a Democrat," and endorse (D) POTUS candidates like Barack Obama.

McGovern was a great American, liberal/progressive, and we were all cheated by his sabotaged loss of the presidency, but he was not perfect. Let's not let the lessons of this great man's life and our blundering political history be forgotten... or go unheeded.]

[-] 2 points by 99nproud (2697) 5 years ago

Excellent article and marks the start of anti war dems/election defeats as a result of effective "weak on defense" labeling by low life hawkish repuglicans.

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

And it lives on today. But now it works both ways: too weak for Republicons, too hawkish for Unicorn Chasers. Probably why Rombot agreed so much in last night's foreign policy debate.

[-] 2 points by 99nproud (2697) 5 years ago

I hear Romoney was trying to appeal to women with his embrace of dovishness & strategy of not attacking Pres Obama.

Epic fail

[-] 1 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Any means are justified for their end.

[-] 2 points by 99nproud (2697) 5 years ago

The repubs have no honor. Lying indiscriminately. Saying whatever it taks to whoever they are taking to! Pandering unashamedly, "The Audacity of Etch"

[-] 1 points by factsrfun (8733) from Phoenix, AZ 5 years ago

Thank you I did not know that Lennon was also influenced by McGovern.

[-] 3 points by 99nproud (2697) 5 years ago

Lennon was great. His involvment with anti war movement was a huge boost to the movement, & a huge risk to him since it exasperated the Nixon govt harrassment of Lennon.

McGoverns loss was so thoroughly demoralizing that the left anti war movement was wounded and never truly recovered.

Nixon was an evil genius. Bastard!

[-] 2 points by factsrfun (8733) from Phoenix, AZ 5 years ago

McGovern had a huge influence over the years though, so did Nixon, but we are forgetting the biggest lesson from Nixon. (the GOP are scum)

[-] 3 points by 99nproud (2697) 5 years ago

I haven't forgotten, Some have! you are correct. But not the informed intelligent ones.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

Yes, John counted on the surviving liberal/progressive Dems after the Summer of '68 to take care of the War and assassinations and corruption of our system primarily perpetrated by the Republicons. When they did-in McGovern, too, he began to be disheartened. After a hiatus from music and politics he decided it was time to get back into it, shortly afterward he was assassinated, too.

[-] 2 points by factsrfun (8733) from Phoenix, AZ 5 years ago

I even liked Yoko's side of Double Fantasy.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

He had a political popularity resurgence, and he had plans to use it.

[-] 2 points by factsrfun (8733) from Phoenix, AZ 5 years ago

I have heard that as well.

[-] 2 points by WSmith (2698) from Cornelius, OR 5 years ago

The left has certainly earned its/our martyrdom, many times over! When the fuck do we cash in??

[-] -2 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

You dont. You get used. Thats how the system is set up.

[-] 1 points by nomdeguerre (1775) from Brooklyn, NY 5 years ago

Rest in peace George. A true Dem. A happy warrior for justice.

Modest to a fault. Wouldn't even mention his war hero record while Nixon attacked him for being a peace wimp. In WWII, McGovern brought in a crippled bomber, after suggesting his crew bail out before the landing attempt. They didn't and he landed it.

[-] 2 points by factsrfun (8733) from Phoenix, AZ 5 years ago

John Kerry served too came back and fought against the war, Bush did the same thing to him, Republicans are just scum.

[+] -4 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

It must have been nice to have anti-war candidates speaking out against war.

Wait, we have them now. But they just dont get any love from the left anymore.

[-] 1 points by factsrfun (8733) from Phoenix, AZ 5 years ago

I saw Obama speak out against war even end one, who you talking about?

[-] -2 points by hchc (3297) from Tampa, FL 5 years ago

I see him bragging about sanctions that are starving people, bombing yemen, bombing somolia, full scale attack of Libya, increasing troops in Afghan, bombing pakistan, sending marines into guatemala, sending marines into Uganda, bombing sudan and now sending marines into Turkey to get ready for Syria/Iran.

Oh ya, and making it so that American citizens have the same rights as terrorists- zero- if need be.

Thats what I see.

PS- 5k mercenaries around Baghdad is still an occupation.

[-] 2 points by factsrfun (8733) from Phoenix, AZ 5 years ago

Your guy Romney kind of sucked last night.