A tireless and shameless advocate for those principles of the Democratic party that Republicans loved to deride in the 80’s, George McGovern passed away last night at the age of 90. A man who never backed down from his pro-worker, anti-war and pro-people principles, George McGovern’s legacy will live on. Although the Republicans and corporate media have loved to refer to him as if an aged and ailing icon of the defeat of liberalism, McGovern never swerved and never changed his positions or beliefs because they existed at the core of who he was as a man and a politician.
In August of 2011, Daily Kos writes on the highlights of a Harper’s magazine essay written by McGovern. See here for an inside look into a man that hid behind a calm and somewhat bland demeanor, a man who had a good grasp of policy and politics and spoke out tirelessly for justice.
Daily Kos: George McGovern’s Open Letter to President Obama
McGovern opens his letter by recognizing some facts of our current situation. He says that only FDR and Obama have inherited serious economic crises within the past 100 years. He notes that FDR got through Congress most of the New Deal programs with little opposition. However, he notes:
Like Roosevelt, President Barack Obama has inherited a serious economic crisis, but in his first two years in office he has met with an even worse problem: the rigid opposition of the rival party leaders to national health care and nearly every other proposal he has made…Neither during my four years in the House of Representatives, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House, nor through eighteen years in the U.S. Senate, under John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, have I witnessed any president thwarted by the kind of narrow partisanship that has beset Obama…What has happened, one is compelled to ask, to the love of nation?
I think that this is important for us to hear, for as much as we’ve seen the political system evolve to where the GOP is the most obstructionist opposition in the post-Reconstruction era, it did not used to be this way within living memory. McGovern probably has the likes of Everett Dirksen, who helped usher through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, despite the protests of the Southern Democrats. Consider this: 13 Republicans voted FOR the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. That would be impossible today.
In explaining this, McGovern takes the high road and suggests its about resistance to change by voters, “strengthened by powerful interests.”
Read the rest at Daily Kos