George McGovern, 1922-2012

George McGovern campaigning in Houston, TX, in 1972; Courtesy Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries;

When I was first eligible to vote in a US presidential election in 1972, I went to a little elementary school a few blocks from the rental house where we lived in Pasadena (CA, US) and cast my vote for George McGovern. I never liked his suits, but I really liked his positions. Not only was I in favor of getting US troops out of Vietnam, but I thought McGovern was right about equal rights for women and a guaranteed family income for those with demonstrated need.

In 1972, I was still reeling from the loss of my favorite candidate from the 1968 campaign. For the ’68 election, not only I was 20 years old and—therefore—ineligible to vote, but Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated. McGovern was, in a way, also a link back to RFK for me, adding to my interest in voting for him.

And, of course, I was unhappy with the policies of the incumbant, Richard Nixon. He seemed to me to be surfing on the public relations side of issues, talking about doing good things while curtailing them substantively with financial cuts behind the curtains, out of the usual public view. In retrospect, President Nixon’s positions look rather liberal in the context of 2000-teens Republicanism; some Tea Party supporters would probably be hounding him about his policies.

So, I was glad to cast my first presidential vote for Senator McGovern. I appreciate his effort to conduct that campaign 40 years ago. Our country would have gone in a different direction and be in a better place, I think, had he won that election.


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