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Opinion I knew George McGovern. Bernie Sanders is no George McGovern.

17:45  28 february  2020
17:45  28 february  2020 Source:   washingtonpost.com

I worked hard for McGovern and he was doomed. Sanders backers, please don't repeat 1972.

  I worked hard for McGovern and he was doomed. Sanders backers, please don't repeat 1972. McGovern spoke to my teen aspirations for wholesale change in US foreign and domestic policies. My generation went for broke and woke up empty handed. Sanders won 51% of voters ages 18-29 in the New Hampshire primary, exit polls showed. He boosted that to 54% in the Nevada caucuses, according to entrance polls, and won 60% of voters under age 45.I fear that 2020 will be the second coming of 1972.In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson’s vice president, Hubert Humphrey, a moderate Democrat who won the Democratic nomination after Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination, lost in a nail biter election to Nixon.

George McGovern of South Dakota rode that issue all the way to the Democratic Party nomination. I witnessed that journey firsthand. All I know is that fear and anger are all too present in the American voter. Sanders is speaking in clear English to that anxiety and uncertainty.

Former Sen. George McGovern , in a photo taken on June 30, 1972. (Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division). Bernie Sanders ’ big win in New Hampshire has given his campaign a big boost, but even Sanders knows that there’s still a long primary season ahead.

Bernie Sanders wearing a suit and tie: Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks Wednesday during a midweek service at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C. © Salwan Georges/The Washington Post Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks Wednesday during a midweek service at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, N.C.

Gary Hart served as U.S. senator from Colorado from 1975 to 1987.

With the emergence of Bernie Sanders as the seeming front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, there is now much talk about whether the Vermont senator is another George McGovern, the party’s 1972 presidential nominee, and whether the party is therefore poised for a 1972-level wipeout.

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I served as national campaign director for then-Sen. McGovern, before becoming a U.S. senator and presidential candidate myself. I can’t confidently predict the outcome of a Sanders nomination. What I can say, having known George McGovern, is that Bernie Sanders is no George McGovern.

McGovern’s personal and political biography made him a far different candidate from Sanders. As much as he is viewed by the conventional wisdom as one of the most liberal nominees ever to have been selected as the Democratic standard-bearer, McGovern was far less liberal, in terms of expansion of government, in his time than Sanders is now.

Both ran against the Democratic establishment, yet the comparisons between the two men are more facile than fitting. McGovern was much too complicated to be boxed into a “far-left liberal” category. It might be convenient journalistically, but it is not accurate.

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McGovern won two House races and three statewide Senate races in the conservative state of South Dakota, not liberal Vermont. He was a decorated World War II bomber pilot who flew 35 combat missions, often landing with his B-24 bomber badly shredded by anti-aircraft fire.

In the 1972 campaign, McGovern offered nothing like a Green New Deal, major overhaul of national health insurance, or any one of a number of sweeping increases in the size and reach of the national government. He did advocate something called a “demogrant,” anticipating Andrew Yang by half a century by proposing an annual grant of $1,000 to all American families, back when that was real money.

As the commentariat searches for Sanders’s predecessors, it is a reach to make McGovern a far-left icon. His economics and foreign policy were much closer to those of John F. Kennedy than to those of Hubert Humphrey. Although the signature policy that brought McGovern to national attention was his crusade against the Vietnam War, McGovern’s push to end the war did not mean that he wanted to see America’s diplomatic withdrawal from the world. Rather, he was an ardent internationalist, the former head of the U.S. Food for Peace Program, who believed in our post-war democratic alliances.

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Bernard Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is an American politician who has served as the junior United States Senator from Vermont since 2007 and as U.S. Representative for the state's at-large

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Still, there are lessons that Sanders and his fellow Democratic colleagues can learn from McGovern’s landslide defeat. Because of the barrage of attacks and mischaracterizations — started by his fellow Democrats and then picked up by President Richard Nixon — McGovern’s defeat was virtually inevitable.

The division within the ranks of the Democratic Party helped set the stage for that defeat. Ironically enough, the foundation-laying attack came from former vice president Hubert Humphrey, the embodiment of the waning New Deal, who took it upon himself in the California primary to label McGovern as “too liberal.” I watched this snap George’s head back during their televised debate. This assault by anti-McGovern forces of the old Democratic Party continued into the very contentious Democratic convention a few weeks later.

Republicans were only too happy to build on this Democratic dissension. Nixon, the incumbent president, painted McGovern into a “liberal” corner on social issues: “acid, amnesty, and abortion.”

If he wins the nomination, Sanders could lose as badly as McGovern did. But if he does, it will be for reasons that are much more complicated than that he is too liberal. History shows that massive increases in the size and power of government occur most readily when our economy is in deep trouble.

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Sanders is trying to create his own New Deal at a moment when the economy, at least on its surface, seems to boom. But he is arguing for big government at a time when disaffected Republicans and independents want saner leadership to keep the perceived economic growth continuing, not revolutionary change.

In sum, two different men, two different times. McGovern ran when New Deal programs were becoming less economically effective due to the rise of international competition; he and those of us with him were not prepared for a sweeping new response to the two revolutions of globalization and the shift of the economic base from manufacturing to technology.

Sanders proposes a massive increase in the scope of government, necessitating a major restructuring of the economy when, on the surface at least, it seems to be humming along. Smashing them both into a mold called “liberalism” is simplistic and misleading.

Read more:

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How Bernie blew it .
Former Vice President Joe Biden won what looks to be at least a narrow delegate victory in yesterday's Super Tuesday contests, which will award a third of all delegates to the Democratic National Convention in July. While the campaign is far from over, Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-Vt.) march to the nomination that looked so likely just a week ago is a long-gone dream for the progressive left. As he and his campaign look upon the wreckage of what could have been a casual romp en route to Milwaukee, they absolutely must correct course and start the difficult process of appealing to mainstream Democrats if they want to have any hope of winning.

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