A longtime progressive who stood for tax reform and a national health insurance, George McGovern was also a serious opponent of the Vietnam War and conducted his 1972 presidential campaign on ending it.
“Never a showman, he made his case with a style as plain as the prairies where he grew up, often sounding more like the Methodist minister he’d once studied to be than a longtime U.S. senator and three-time candidate for president.
“A decorated World War II bomber pilot, McGovern said he learned to hate war by waging it. In his disastrous race against Nixon, he promised to end the conflict in Vietnam and cut defense spending by billions of dollars. He helped create the Food for Peace program and spent much of his career believing the United States should be more accommodating to the former Soviet Union.
“McGovern was tortured by the selection of Missouri Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton as the vice presidential nominee, and 18 days later, following the disclosure that Eagleton had undergone electroshock therapy for depression, the decision to drop him from the ticket despite having pledged to back him “1,000 percent.
And McGovern never shied from the word “liberal,” even as other Democrats blanched at the label and Republicans used it as an epithet.” (NYT)
What follows are excerpts from McGovern’s 1972 acceptance speech and excerpts from the 2005 documentary narrated by Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!,” “One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern,” written, directed and produced by Stephen Vittoria.
1972 Democratic Presidential Nominee – U.S. Senator
Address Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida
July 14, 1972
So tonight I accept your nomination with a full and grateful heart.
This afternoon I crossed the wide Missouri to recommend a running mate of wide vision and deep compassion, Senator Tom Eagleton.
I’m proud to have him at my side, and I’m proud to have been introduced a moment ago by one of the most eloquent and courageous voices in this land Senator Ted Kennedy.
My nomination is all the more precious and that it is a gift of the most open political process in all of our political history.
It is the sweet harvest of the work of tens of thousands of tireless volunteers, young and old alike, funded by literally hundreds of thousands of small contributors in every part of this nation. Continue reading