Derik Schneider Online

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Richard Nixon Library: Oral History- Tim Naftali Interviewing George McGovern

This piece was originally posted at FRS FreeStates

George McGovern was someone with one hell of a political and professional resume. Who represented South Dakota in both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate as a Leftist-Democrat in one of the reddest states in the union. And yet he represented South Dakota in Congress for twenty-two years. Who served as Director of the U.S. Food For Peace Program, who won the Democratic Party nomination for President in 1972, who rebuilt the Democratic Party almost on his own. By bringing in so many new Democrats. Who thought the Democratic Party was still the Dixiecrat Party that didn’t welcome ethnic or racial-minorities or women and so-forth.

Senator McGovern benefited the Democratic Party by 1976 with Jimmy Carter being elected President in 1976. Who was a Liberal Democrat from the South, but not as far to the left as the national Democratic Party. George McGovern was a man who truly believed in public service. That it was about representing the public and not furthering your career financially. George McGovern grew up in the New Deal era in the Democratic Party era. The Democratic Socialist or Progressive Era of Franklin Roosevelt and thought this was the politics of the future. And something that he believed in and was the dominant political philosophy up until the late 1960s or so.

The problem that Senator McGovern had was that by the time he was a national Democrat and becoming a major contender For President of the United States, Senator McGovern was still a New Deal Progressive Democrat. During a time when the country was moving to the right on economic policy and when high taxes, Welfare, big government were becoming unpopular.Yet Senator McGovern was not just running as a New Deal or Great Society Progressive Democrat, but as someone who in his 1972 presidential campaign wanted to create round three and create a real welfare state in America. And create a national healthcare system to use as an example. When high taxes were becoming unpopular.

The main difference between Barry Goldwater and George McGovern’s landslide presidential losses, is that Senator Goldwater was ahead of his tome and the country wasn’t quite ready for his let’s call it conservative-libertarianism in 1964. At the heart of the Great Society era in the country. But in Senator McGovern’s case the country moved past his and LBJ’s progressivism and democratic socialism. And that we just didn’t need t have the New Deal and Great Society. But that we needed to expand it and create a real welfare state in America. Like they have in Scandinavia to use as an example. With things like a national healthcare system universal higher education run by the Federal Government. Americans by in large, weren’t ready for democratic socialism in the 1970s.

Senator McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign, wanted a lot more Federal funding for public-schools in this country as well as regulations and so-forth. And the country simply didn’t want to pay the taxes to finance all of these new public programs. By 1976 the New-Democratic wing in the Democratic Party (the real Liberal wing of the party) that has a healthy skepticism of governmental-power in the economy and our personal lives, but not anti-government, was already forming. And were replacing the Dixiecrats in the party that were becoming Republicans. Jimmy Carter perfect example of that. So by 1976 the Democratic Party and country were moving past FDR progressive policies and Lyndon Johnson. So of course they weren’t ready for a Democratic Socialist (the Bernie Sanders of hims time) in George McGovern.

But what I call the McGovern wing of the Democratic Party, that’s different from the FDR or LBJ wing, was forming, but hasn’t had the power to nominate another McGovern Socialist to run for President in the Democratic Party. They tried with McGovern again in 1984, Jesse Jackson in 84 and 88, Dennis Kucinich in 2004 and 2008. But none of these Far-Leftist Democrats, have come even close to being a major contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. And we are now seeing McGovern-Democrats running for President in social democratic third-parties. George McGovern’s legacy for the Democratic Party, is that he expanded it. Taken it away from the right-wing Religious-Right of the South. And giving the Republican Party a Christmas gift from hell. And turning the Democratic Party into more of a Northern and West Coast party. That relies on minorities and women, to be successful politically.