George McGovern’s 1972 Address at the Democratic Convention
In Miami, on July 14, 1972, Senator George McGovern (July 19, 1922 – October 21, 2012) was nominated as the Democratic candidate for President. A Congressperson, Senator, Candidate for President, and Activist, Senator McGovern held strong beliefs against social ills and became a model for American liberalism. While his candidacy has allowed the Republican party to position Democrats as weak on defense (which has had far-reaching consequences for the Democratic party) Senator McGovern’s speech at the Democratic convention floor in 1972 is poignant. More importantly, it is somewhat spectral how relevant a 1972 speech seems to America’s current state of affairs.
You may read the full transcript at The American Presidency Project.
BohoMamma has highlighted portions that seemed most poignant to today’s landscape of political discourse.
“Let the opposition collect their $10 million in secret money from the privileged few and let us find one million ordinary Americans who will contribute $25 each to this campaign, a Million Member Club with members who will not expect special favors for themselves but a better land for us all.”
“This is the time for truth, not falsehood. In a Democratic nation, no one likes to say that his inspiration came from secret arrangements by closed doors, but in the sense that is how my candidacy began. I am here as your candidate tonight in large part because during four administrations of both parties, a terrible war has been chartered behind closed doors.”
“Let us say to Americans, as Woodrow Wilson said in his first campaign of 1912, “Let me inside the government and I will tell you what is going on there. Wilson believed, and I believe, that the destiny of America is always safer in the hands of the people then in the conference rooms of any elite.”"
“I have no secret plan for peace. I have a public plan. And as one whose heart has ached for the past ten years over the agony of Vietnam, I will halt a senseless bombing of Indochina on Inaugural Day.”
“I believe that the greatest contribution America can now make to our fellow mortals is to heal our own great but very deeply troubled land. We must respond — we must respond to that ancient command: “Physician, heal thyself.”
“I believe that the greatest contribution America can now make to our fellow mortals is to heal our own great but very deeply troubled land. We must respond — we must respond to that ancient command: “Physician, heal thyself. Now, it is necessary in an age of nuclear power and hostile forces that we’ll be militarily strong. America must never become a second-rate nation. As one who has tasted the bitter fruits of our weakness before Pearl Harbor in 1941, I give you my pledge that if I become the President of the United States, America will keep its defenses alert and fully sufficient to meet any danger. We will do that not only for ourselves, but for those who deserve and need the shield of our strength — our old allies in Europe and elsewhere, including the people of Israel who will always have our help to hold their Promised Land.”
“National security includes schools for our children as well as silos for our missiles. It includes the health of our families as much as the size of our bombs, the safety of our streets, and the condition of our cities, and not just the engines of war. If we some day choke on the pollution of our own air, there will be little consolation in leaving behind a dying continent ringed with steel. From the entrenchment of special privileges in tax favoritism; from the waste of idle lands to the joy of useful labor; from the prejudice based on race and sex; from the loneliness of the aging poor and the despair of the neglected sick — come home, America.“
Photography Credit: Bob Daugherty / AP Photo