FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

McGovern’s Legacy

by KARL GROSSMAN

George McGovern, who died yesterday, was prescient about America. When he ran for president 40 years ago, he well-understood what the federal government of the United States had become, among other national dysfunctions.

It’s a shame he wasn’t given an opportunity to, as president, change things.

In June 1972, I conducted a half-hour interview with then Senator McGovern as he campaigned for president on Long Island, New York, where I was a reporter for the Long Island Press.

“This administration,” he said of the Richard Nixon’s presidency, “is dominated by big business and big oil and big utilities.  It’s really a big business operation. They give them anything they want: tax concessions, wage-price controls that have no restraints on big business.”

The Nixon administration had just quashed a Department of Justice anti-trust action against International Telephone & Telegraph, ITT, emerging then under its CEO Harold Geneen as the model of a modern monopoly extending its reach by gobbling up companies. The Nixon administration “let ITT buy their way out of” this anti-trust action, McGovern charged.  ITT provided Nixon with major campaign contributions.

As to the situation if Nixon were re-elected president, “I really have a grim view of another four years of this kind of trickery and manipulation and credibility problems and secret deals and power politics and special interest politics. Letting the ITTs of the country run the government instead of the other way around,” said McGovern. “I really believe this present administration is dominated by the greediest interests in the country.”

The Vietnam War was still raging, and McGovern said: “The Vietnam War has virtually destroyed the unity of the nation, destroyed the unity of the Democratic Party. But I think a new coalition of peace and change priorities here at home is now forming around my candidacy. I believe I now stand in the mainstream of the American people.”

As to the difference if he became president instead of Nixon, “First of all there wouldn’t be any war.  Secondly, I’d remove wage and price controls.  I don’t think that it would be necessary to keep them if the war was over. Thirdly, there’d be a very substantial shift of resources away from war spending to building up the country, in terms of better facilities of all kinds: housing, transportation, health care, education and so forth.”

At the time, the oil industry was pushing to drill in Atlantic offshore waters—as it is again—and McGovern took a stand against it declaring that “the technology is not sufficiently advanced to protect us against oil spills.” He described offshore drilling in the Atlantic as “a threat to the beaches, the fishing interests, to the purity of the water.”  Of nuclear power, he said “we have to delay further nuclear plant construction” because of the thermal impacts of nuclear plants on water bodies. He said “to operate those nuclear plants you have that hot water being dumped into nearby streams. That eventually destroys the stream, or the lake, or whatever it is into which the spill-off occurs.” As to sources of energy, he emphasized “solar power and other cleaner sources of energy.”

As to how the nation could adjust to a termination of the Vietnam War, McGovern said: “After World War II we dismantled a military machine that was consuming 40 percent of our gross national product. We did it without any recession. People went into other jobs because the priorities were set in such a way that there was employment. I can think of various things: the building of public transit facilities, construction of environmental protection devices…any number of things that are needed where that talent and labor can be utilized.”

Of the then infamous and huge generation gap, he said: “My candidacy could bridge the gap because there’s certain interests that young people and older people share in common…Everybody would welcome a return to trust and confidence in a president.”

He stressed his consistency on issues. “I’ve not gone back on my word. I’ve consistently followed through. I’ve not switched around. I’ve stuck to my principles.”

And, indeed, he was a man of principle.

Sadly, McGovern lost the 1972 election to the unprincipled Nixon.

Forty years later, we have suffered through much that could have been avoided if George McGovern had become president back then.

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
Stansfield Smith
North Koreans in South Korea Face Imprisonment for Wanting to Return Home
Hamid Yazdan Panah
Remembering Native American Civil Rights Pioneer, Lehman Brightman
James Porteous
Seventeen-Year-Old Nabra Hassanen Was Murdered
Weekend Edition
June 23, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Democrats in the Dead Zone
Gary Leupp
Trump, Qatar and the Danger of Total Confusion
Andrew Levine
The “Democracies” We Deserve
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
The FBI’s “Operation Backfire” and the Case of Briana Waters
Rob Urie
Cannibal Corpse
Joseph G. Ramsey
Savage Calculations: On the Exoneration of Philando Castile’s Killer
John Wight
Trump’s Attack on Cuba
Dave Lindorff
We Need a Mass Movement to Demand Radical Progressive Change
Brian Cloughley
Moving Closer to Doom
David Rosen
The Sex Offender: the 21st Century Witch
John Feffer
All Signs Point to Trump’s Coming War With Iran
Jennifer L. Lieberman
What’s Really New About the Gig Economy?
Pete Dolack
Analyzing the Failures of Syriza
Vijay Prashad
The Russian Nexus
Mike Whitney
Putin Tries to Avoid a Wider War With the US
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail