Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ode to McGovern

I can say nothing about George McGovern you might not read elsewhere,  more elegantly and informatively stated.  I will only summarize here by saying  the man was an old school politician and a decorated World War II pilot - a  US Senator of considerable influence for many years who knew the real cost of war. 

He thought the price was too high. 

In November of 1972, I was one of the brand-spanking-new 18-year old voters lining up to exercise my recently ratified right under the 26th amendment to the US Constitution.  I was a sophomore in college.  I had been too young in the late 60s, really, to have understood fully - much less participated in - the Vietnam War, the work of Students for a Democratic Society, or Woodstock

My primary concern in the fall of 1972 was whether or not I had a date on a Saturday night. 

But, I was fired up about voting. 

A new precinct had been added to my college campus.  We enthusiastic 18-year old voters were feeling quite santicmonious.  After all, we spouted with indignation whenever anyone would listen, "If we're old enough to fight - we should be able to vote."   

But there was no 24-hour news cycle or Twitter or online access to the New York Times.  These were the days of the Yellow Dog Democrat majority in Texas - which made me slightly wary of any candidate on that ticket. 

So here's how I decided who to vote for.  I asked my dad.  He told me to vote for Nixon or expect the end of the material world I'd come to know and depend upon. 

And that's what I did.  I voted for Nixon.  Along with 61% of America.  George McGovern won only one state on November 7, 1972. Massachusettes. 

Less than two years later, I sat on a stool in a dark television studio control room, watching the place counter on a two-inch video tape machine.  I was looking for a sound bite to air on the 10 o'clock newscast I produced. Richard Nixon was resigning, in shame, from office.

I decided on that night I would never rely on anyone else to tell me who to vote for.  Ever. 

Are you listening to your own hearts and voices young voters of America?  
It's a secret ballot.
Choose your own candidate. 

Today - 40 years later - I celebrate the man who really spoke my mind in 1972: George McGovern.  May he rest in...


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