The Associated Press is running an article by Brian Bakst and Chet Brokow eulogising the late George McGovern as ‘the conscience of our nation.’ Which nation are Baskt and Brokow referring to in their piece? They write:
Three former Democratic presidential candidates paid personal respects Friday to George McGovern, whose 1972 campaign for president galvanized the party’s liberal wing and ushered in a new generation of political activism.
Indeed, McGovern did win the historically significant 1972 Democratic presidential nomination (with 25.3% of the vote), barely edging out fellow Northern Leftist Hubert Humphrey (who got 25.7% but won fewer States) and Southern conservative George Wallace (with 23.48%). McGovern’s victory helped to cement the Left’s control over the traditional party of Southern conservatives, prompting a White Southern exodus from that party as it became the party of Northern Leftists, labour unions and non-White voters. McGovern proved too Leftist for a United States not yet radically changed demographically by the 1965 immigration act. He won only Massachusetts.
Left-wing US leaders such as Walter Mondale, John Kerry and Gary Hart can hail McGovern as their inspiration. Over at the Huffington Post they can remember fondly the first presidential candidate they voted for as young people. At the Washington Post they can remember how McGovern inspired them to liberal activism and a career in journalism. Clearly McGovern was loved by many US media figures and politicians. But he was rejected by most Southerners in 1972 and the take-over of the South’s traditional party by McGovern and his political allies led to Southerners fleeing that party. If McGovern was the conscience of a nation, it wasn’t the Southern people. It wasn’t the ‘American people’ as a whole, as no such thing truthfully exists anyhow. If Northern Leftists and the people of Massachusetts wish to claim McGovern as their conscience then let them have him. He was certainly not the conscience of Dixie.