Nytt

George McGovern (90) døde søndag og hans bortgang kan synes som en «blip». Men McGovern tar mye historie med seg i graven: han var den første kandidaten som 68’erne kunne omfavne.

McGovern var 100 % ærlig og idealistisk. Han tenkte ikke taktisk: han var for borgerrettsbevegelsen, mot Vietnam-krigen, han ville få slutt på the draft, dvs. militærtjensten som mange hatet pga krigen, han ville gi amnesti til alle draft-resisters som hadde rømt til utlandet eller gått under jorden, han ville legalisere marihuana, heve skatten på de multinasjonale selskapene, innføre borgerlønn, og anerkjenne Kina og Cuba.

Han lanserte det demokratiske parti som en regnbuekoalisjon av minoriteter – indianere, svarte, latinos, gay, som innevarslet det som skulle bli en stor og tung samfunnstrend: identitetspolitikk.

Dermed forlot Demokratene deres tradisjonelle velgergrunnlag blant arbeiderklassen.

Det lød flott. Men resultatet var knusende: McGovern vant bare to stater! Det er det mest knusende resultat i amerikansk historie.

 

Mr. McGovern’s liberal stances were a handicap in the 1972 presidential race against the Republican incumbent. He urged diplomatic recognition of Cuba and China and pledged to decriminalize marijuana, offer amnesty for draft evaders, raise corporate taxes and guarantee a minimum national income. He was blamed for turning the Democratic Party away from the working class and toward the embrace of minorities, women, gays and other practitioners of «identity politics.»
Mr. McGovern received only 38 percent of the popular vote, carrying just Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, for 17 electoral votes. Nixon won 520 electoral votes.
The race against Nixon was seen by most as a sure loss. The revelations of the Nixon administration’s involvement in the Watergate scandal – which stemmed from a 1972 break-in of Democratic National Committee headquarters – had not yet sunk into the public’s consciousness.
At the 1973 Gridiron Club dinner in Washington, Mr. McGovern was able to joke, «Ever since I was a young man I wanted to run for the presidency in the worst possible way – and I did.»

Resultatet var en stor skuffelse for 68’erne: de var overbevist om at de hadde rett og hadde historien på sin side. Dermed oppsto forestillingen om at det var noe galt med lederne og folket: Richard Nixon var en skurk og selve systemet han representerte var skurkeaktig. Folket var ikke stort bedre som valgte slike ledere.

Ekko av disse holdningene gjenfinnes i de politiske korrektes forestillinger om «grums» i folkedypet. Thorbjørn Jagland og Inge Lønning stoler så lite på folket at de vil ha skrevet menneskerettighetene inn i grunnloven, slik at nordmenn en dag ikke kan finne på å være slemme mot muslimer.

Slik lever arven etter 68’erne videre.

Mye gjenfinnes i McGoverns kampanje. Han var den første som vant stor oppslutning blant filmstjerner og rockemusikere.

Humbert Humphrey hadde forsøkt i 1968, men han var for mye en del av systemet til at de radikale kunne godta ham.

Etter hippiene oppsto en bevegelse kalt yuppier: en krysning mellom hippier og politisk radikale. De skulle ikke være så kjedelige som sosialister, – mer plass til dop, sex og gale påfunn. Jerry Rubin og Abbie Hoffman var ledere.

De foreslo en gris som presidentkandidat og dro til Demokratenes konvent i Chicago for å demonstrere.  Forholdet mellom politi og demonstranter var den gang dårlig. De sto milevis fra hverandre kulturelt, og Black Panthers krig mot politiet, som kun ble kalt pigs, var alvorlig nok. Mens Humphrey talte inne i konventsalen, slo politifolk løs på demonstrantene utenfor. Det så stygt ut på TV og var dårlig reklame for Humphrey. Han tapte mot Nixon.

«The 1968 Chicago convention became a lacerating event, a distillation of a year of heartbreak, assassinations, riots and a breakdown in law and order that made it seem as if the country were coming apart. In its psychic impact, and its long-term political consequences, it eclipsed any other such convention in American history, destroying faith in politicians, in the political system, in the country and in its institutions,» Haynes Johnson wrote in a recent issue of Smithsonian magazine.

Men fire år senere hadde motkulturen, blandingen av hippie og politikk, modnet. De fant McGovern decent og sympatisk, og gikk inn for han med fulle mugger. Det var den første kampanje som rockekulturen omfavnet. Rocken skulle bli stor og mainstream. Denne omfavnelsen skulle derfor få konsekvenser for politikk og kultur i stort.

«He was the first candidate I voted for,» says the activist and historian Todd Gitlin, who was in his late 20s at the time. «I think the support he got was a sign that the era of radical obstinacy was over.»

The optimism was understandable. Hubert Humphrey had lost by fewer than 600,000 votes to Nixon in 1968, and the 1972 election was the first presidential campaign since the minimum voting age had been lowered from 21 to 18, potentially adding millions of (presumably) liberal young people to the rolls. And McGovern, in opposing a war expanded and advocated by Democratic presidents, had shaken the party’s post-World War II tradition of aggressive anti-Communism.

«Humphrey was anathema to us in `68, and then we got McGovern and America suddenly seemed like a place where real choices were presented,» says historian Jon Wiener, who has written often about the politics and culture of the Cold War era. «I remember election night, 1972, as like the worst night in American politics in my life. Here was this stark choice between war and peace, truth and lies, and the American people rushed to embrace truth and lies.»

For many, McGovern’s campaign promised the fulfillment of what Robert Kennedy might have achieved if not for his assassination in June 1968. Kennedy was just 42 at the time, energetic and wavy-haired. «Bobby Is Groovy,» supporters’ posters had read. His candidacy inspired one of the first presidential fundraising concerts to feature rock stars, when the Byrds played at a May 1968 concert that also included Sonny and Cher and gospel great Mahalia Jackson. (Humphrey’s campaign attempted, in vain, to get a song out of Jefferson Airplane.)

When McGovern, aided by party rules he helped revise, became the surprise contender in 1972, the left felt revived. Hoffman and Rubin had mellowed just enough since 1968 to accept the nominee of a mainstream party. Warren Beatty, Jack Nicholson and Julie Christie were among the young Hollywood stars who backed McGovern. Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner was an enthusiastic supporter, and McGovern was the rare candidate regarded sympathetically by the magazine’s hell-raising reporter and Robert Kennedy admirer Hunter S. Thompson, who called McGovern «the most honest big-time politician in America.»

The rock community gave McGovern the kind of hip cachet that Bill Clinton and Barack Obama would later receive. Simon & Garfunkel, who had broken up in 1970, reunited to perform on McGovern’s behalf. Country Joe McDonald, known for his profane anti-war «Fish Cheer,» also sang for him. The popular band Chicago was so dedicated that cultural historian Peter Doggett, in his book «There’s a Riot Going On,» referred to their 1972 tour as «virtually a McGovern roadshow, with every concert offering voter registration booths and Democratic propaganda.»

Neil Young wrote «War Song,» a jagged rocker with a hopeful chorus, «There’s a man says/he can put an end to war.» Ushers at a Madison Square Garden show, which starred Simon & Garfunkel and Dionne Warwick, included Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman and Gene Hackman. Tina Turner, «Mama» Cass Elliot and Judy Collins were among the singers at another Garden concert, «Star Spangled Women.»

Lennon, who had emigrated to New York from England the year before, had been radicalized through his marriage to the artist Yoko Ono and through his friendships with Abbie Hoffman and Rubin. He was writing militant chants such as «Power to the People» and was anxious to help bring down the hated Nixon. By late 1971, he and Rubin were planning an all-star tour and voter registration drive. The idolized ex-Beatle probably could have had his pick of fellow rockers to join him.

 

Barack Obama er alt 68’erne noensinne drømte om: han er svart, idealistisk, pragmatisk, intelligent. Han bygger bro mellom WASP-kulturen og minoritetenes USA:  han får det hvite liberale USA til å føle at de har overvunnet fortidens synder.

Han representerer drømmen, og de vil ugjerne slippe den. Fire år senere er mye blitt brødpolitikk, men nå er det enda mer fundamentale ting det handler om: det liberale USAs forestillinger om hvordan verden er skrudd sammen.

Røttene til disse premissene ble for en stor del lagt i 60-årene, og McGoverns kampanje var den første hvor motkulturen gjorde seg gjeldende. Den tapte med et brak, men skulle bli mainstream.

Men fortsatt finnes mistilliten til folket og folkedypet. Den har ikke forsvunnet, hverken i USA eller Europa. De liberale elitene frykter folket og aner egentlig ikke hva de tenker. Men kontrollen med massemediene og populærkulturen gjør at de kan beholde grepet, en stund til.

Rock on: George McGovern’s candidacy a landmark for counterculture

McGovern candidacy a cultural landmark

By HILLEL ITALIE | ASSOCIATED PRESS |

 

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/George-McGovern-powerful-lawmaker-dies-3969988.php#ixzz2A0yrdPm1