One of my favorite all-time Democrats is none other than former Senator George McGovern. I voted in my first election that year in Winona, Minnesota (attending Winona State College, later was changed to Winona State University). I was 18 then. The Nixon administration had actually gone to court to stop students from voting on campus, citing residency issues. Nixon lost that battle and that has been law ever since.
And I proudly voted for McGovern.
McGovern lost in a landslide to Richard M. Nixon, yet Senator McGovern maintained his dignity and integrity all these many years later.
So much of what he stood for, resonates today. He was painted by Nixon as this wimpy dove, yet the fact was he was quite a war hero (World War II) and never used his war record to his political advantage.
He should have.
In his acceptance speech in 1972, he called for America to “Come Home.” Today, America needs to “Come Home.” In this excerpt about Vietnam, we can apply it to this insane war in Iraq. We could be in Iraq a hundred more years, but we cannot ever win (as Bush defines victory). This excerpt is haunting against the background of the 2006 election where Americans “thought” the message was bring our soldiers home. Many voted for Nixon in 1968 because they “thought” he was bringing the troops home, yet another 20,000 American boys died. How many more must die, before America comes home.
“And this is also a time, not for death, but for life. In 1968 many Americans thought they were voting to bring our sons home from Vietnam in peace, and since then 20,000 of our sons have come home in coffins.” George McGovern, 1972 convention
And then these closing remarks that apply to us today as much as it applied then.
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.”
So let us close on this note: May God grant each one of us the wisdom to cherish this good land and to meet the great challenge that beckons us home.
And now is the time to meet that challenge.
Good night, and Godspeed to you all.
George McGovern, 1972 convention
Come home, George McGovern.