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Pre 2012 Archives

Lessons from an old disaster

By Mike Andrew

George McGovern was the first presidential candidate I ever voted for. I was 20, and I meant my vote to be a vote against the war in Vietnam, and the toxic residue it was leaving in American politics.

The election of 1972 turned out to be a disaster. In spite of my vote, Nixon swept every state except Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. McGovern couldn’t even carry his home state of South Dakota.

When I heard on Sunday that he was dead, I remembered how disappointed I’d been on election night 40 years ago. But I also remembered some other things.

First, I remembered how hopeful we’d been about McGovern’s campaign, even though all the evidence pointed to the fact that he was going to lose, and lose big.

I also remembered how terrified Nixon must have been of even the token opposition McGovern represented, so terrified, in fact, that he gambled – and lost – his presidency on a crackpot scheme to break into Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate Apartments.

Finally I remembered phoning my Republican father the day Nixon resigned to say “I told you so.” He said, “Yeah, you did.” It was the first time he ever acknowledged that I might be right about politics.

All this remembering is by way of asking you to become a PSARA member if you’re not already, and to recruit a new member if you are. Help us to meet our goal of bringing 250 new members into PSARA by the end of this year.

One of the lessons of that 40-year-old disaster is that corrupt and powerful leaders actually fear ordinary people, fear them under all circumstances, but fear them most of all when they are getting organized and are hopeful about the future.

Regardless of the outcome of this year’s election, if we still have hope for the future, we need to get organized to get ourselves there. You can help PSARA get where we need to be by joining today. If you’re already member, renew your membership and recruit a friend.

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