Long-serving South Dakota Senator and 1972 Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern has died at the age of 90.
George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, has died after a short stay in a Sioux Falls, South Dakota Hospice, after what his family termed a "combination of medical conditions."
He was 90 years old.
A 22-year veteran of the House and Senate from South Dakota, McGovern was one of the most storied American politicians of the 20th century. McGovern was best known for his outspoken opposition to the Vietnam War and advocacy for agricultural and world hunger issues.
McGovern lost the 1972 presidential election to the incumbent President Richard Nixon in one of the biggest landslides in American history, winning only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Nixon later resigned from the presidency in 1974 due to the Watergate scandal.
McGovern, a former World War II bomber pilot, was one of the most prominent "doves" of his time. He flew 35 combat missions over Nazi-occupied Europe and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for leading an emergency landing of a damaged plane that saved his crew.
He first won election to Congress in 1956. His longtime advocacy on the behalf of farmers and the poor began with his service on the House Agriculture Committee. The panel's longtime chairman, Rep. Harold Cooley (D-NC), said, "I cannot recall a single member of Congress who has fought more vigorously or intelligently for American farmers than Congressman McGovern."
McGovern chaired the Democratic party panel that rewrote the rules on delegate selection. He took advantage of that knowledge in 1972 with a surprise victory over Hubert Humphrey and other, better known, Democrats.
I'll never forget his acceptance speech - delivered at 1:00 AM because the platform fights had pushed his speech back several hours. His peroration could have been delivered by Barack Obama:
From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America
From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America.
From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick -- come home, America.
Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.
Come home to the belief that we can seek a newer world, and let us be joyful in that homecoming, for this "is your land, this land is my land -- from California to New York island, from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters -- this land was made for you and me."
Standard, boilerplate far left liberalism. One might argue that McGovern - and Obama - advocate socialism. I'm sick of having that argument. But there's no denying the fundamental, disastrous changes advocated by both men.
McGovern will have a mixed legacy - honorable service in World War II, fierce advocate for the hungry in America, and a politician who could not read the temper of his times, nor understand what America was really all about.