In case anyone who reads this blog noticed all the deleted comments under my post a few days ago of one of George McGovern's great quotes, it's because the rightwing stalker of this blog kept trying to use misquoted out-of-context comments McGovern supposedly made to show he was somehow aligned with rightwing Republican ideology. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The tragedy of insulting the memory of George McGovern with this kind of typical rightwing distortion is that this is the same kind of misrepresentation and misinformation and outright lying that helped Nixon defeat McGovern in 1972. The Nixon machine, in fact, was the first to perfect the rightwing propaganda tactic of "the big lie"—repeating over and over things that aren't true but people begin to believe if repeated enough. It had been attempted before, against FDR specifically, but never gained any traction until Nixon and his machine figured out how to use racial and other divisions (all the ones they still use, gender, immigrants, etc.) to convince working people that Republicans had their best interests in mind.
Unfortunately George McGovern was a soft spoken, kind, humble, good hearted liberal who didn't fight the Nixon propaganda machine's attempts to paint him as among other things a coward, because he was a World War Two combat hero and a decent man who didn't realize the level of evil he was up against (much as John Kerry, the Vietnam War hero, whose men praised and honored him for saving their lives in the kind of courageous action almost no Republican politician has ever even attempted let alone done in generations, thought it unnecessary to defend himself against the "Swift-boaters" whose lies contributed to his electoral defeat).
I find this kind of behavior despicable, beneath contempt really, the way the right has reframed all politics in terms of who can get away with the biggest lie (the present campaign tops all previous ones in the number and level of lies propagated by the right, which now is the same as saying The Republican Party). Obviously most of the media is either owned by supporters of rightwing policies (mostly ones that allow the owners to pay less taxes and face fewer regulations etc.) or afraid to make them angry, so portray most lies from the right as equally viable or at least worthy of equal attention with the facts.
McGovern may have been the last of the kind of liberal politicians who believed that reality would trump false allegations, that truth would win out, though Obama sometimes behaves as if he believes it's that simple too. But it is no longer the case for a large portion of the electorate, raised on the Nixon-Reagan-Bush-Romney/Ryan continuum of "big lie" tactics that have so often proven to win the day despite the facts.
As Michael Moore and others constantly point out, a vast majority of "Americans" agree with almost every position and policy that could be labeled "liberal" if stated in nonpolitical terms. But the right has learned that it can turn that on its head and actually convince so-called "middle-class" voters that policies which have ended the USA's position as the society with the most upward mobility, and increased the gap between the wealthy and the rest of us, are actually good for them!
George McGovern, perhaps the last of his kind. Let's hope not. [Here's the New York Times obituary.]
[In 1972 I considered myself a radical, far to the left of McGovern. But I knew that it would be either him or Nixon who would be elected so supported him and was impatient with his inability to attack Nixon as viciously as Nixon and his machine attacked him. But I always respected and liked the man for his decency and solid liberal values which it turned out I shared more than I understood at the time.]