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Comparing Bernie Sanders with George McGovern



Comparing Bernie Sanders with George McGovern
by M. Dennis Paul, PhD

February 12, 2016
In the past week, various media have been offering comparisons of Bernie Sanders and the late George McGovern (some writers have also attempted comparison to Eugene McCarthy with little notice or effect). Most all such comparisons, it seems, are written, or voiced, with the intention of promoting the imminent failure of Sanders as opposed to casting positive impressions. Whether these messages are being foisted by the Clinton campaign, the RNC or any of the GOP current crop of candidates… or even the DNC… is of no real concern here. This offering simply wishes to expose the known realities which example similarities and differences. Are the two actually comparable and if so, how? W hat, if any, are the differences?

This writer will offer perspectives of available historic record as well as first hand knowledge from experiences arising out of early grooming for candidacy by the Democrat Party which allowed access to the late McGovern in both private and public settings, house strategy meetings and sponsorship to formal Fundraisers. Born into the era of “torchlight parades” of the 50’s and 60’s and quickly embraced by local Democrat committees at a very early age… followed, upon returning to NH from a brief move to the West Coast, by introduction to the State committee and subsequent sponsorships (admittedly, already “radicalized” prior to the West Coast move and having associations with the Black Panther Party, SDS/WU, SWP and other groups… including YIPPIE. Certain facts that the State committee was, at that time, unaware and which afforded this writer and a few associates an opportunity to create the first East Coast “Free School” called Mautoban Community.. a mentorship High School ).

Yes… this writer did work and support Eugene McCarthy, however, did not sign on to the “Get Clean For Gene” sellout and allowed the long hair to flourish.

In comparing Bernie and George, it is notable that George voted for the Gulf of Tonkein Resolution which put the US officially in the illegal war against North Vietnam and, subsequently, the dirty excursions into Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. Bernie did not sign the Congressional Authorization bill regarding the illegal assault on Iraq. Both, however, continued to vote for yearly appropriations in support of these criminal incursions.

It is also notable that both George and Bernie had/have long histories of blind support for Israel and consistently voted funding for both the State and its military. In George’s favour, his thinking altered to a measurable, yet still faltering, degree after he made a genuine effort to visit Palestine and meet with Yassar Arafat. By 1976, George had become vocal regarding a not well formed belief in a two-state solution and even offered some criticism of the Israeli government settlements. This writer had spoken with George several years earlier, at a private dinner in the home of a local architect, regarding his support of Israel. His response was quite dogmatic (holocaust, friend of US, only democracy, etc) and became visibly strained under challenge. He later told the host that he was insulted having been challenged by someone so young. Bernie is equally stressed responding to challenging questions regarding his on-going support for Israel and makes every effort to avoid the subject. Bernie has supported the military assaults on Gaza, makes no comment on settlements or BDS and has, through proxy, taken funds from AIPAC.

In that uncomfortable dinner (for George), he made it clear he would not run as an Independent should the nomination pass by his camp and that he would firmly stand behind the Party’s choice which, at the time, was Edmund Muskie of Maine who had fared well as a VP choice in the previous election (1968). When asked if he thought he might be a “sheepdog” used by the Party to corral and subdue the more “left” leaning elements of the youth associated with the on-going anti-war movement, he became visibly offended and refused to respond. It was known, by some, that this was, in fact, the intention of the DNC regarding Eugene McCarthy who was thrown under the political bus in favour of Party lapdog, Hubert H. Humphrey, who was nominated despite refusing entrance into the caucuses and primaries. Bernie made it very clear, upon announcing his candidacy, that he would firmly stand behind the Party’s nominee, obviously refusing to run as the Independent he has long claimed as his status. This status has always been a front as Bernie consistently caucuses with the Democrats and has consistently voted 90% or better with the DNC dictates. Bernie is this election cycle’s sheepdog for the DNC… gathering the disaffected and disenfranchised former sycophants of master illusionist Barack Obama back into the fold of the Party.. From the onset of this election cycle, it has been no secret that Hillary Clinton is the Party favourite.

Eugene, to his credit, actually made a later run for the Presidency as an Independent. It was a lackluster run and was very short lived.

A fact, of which many are not aware, is that Bill and Hillary Clinton (at that time still Hillary Rodham) were McGovern’s Texas campaign Managers. His overall Manager was Gary Hart whose later political ambitions were trashed by planted stories about an affair and who, in 2014, was appointed by Barack Obama as US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland.

Making comparisons regarding electability is a challenging endeavor as circumstances were markedly different in 1972 compared with 2016. Bernie is not facing an incumbent. McGovern faced the seemingly inexplicable incumbency of Richard Nixon. The Nixon camp were a highly skilled team of dirty tricksters, a fact proved unequivocally shortly after his re-election. McGovern was not untouched by their greasy fingers. Conservative hack journalist, Robert Novak, was the source for one such trick. Immediately after George had secured the Massachussetts State primary, Novak began spreading rumour that a Senator had claimed of McGovern, “The people don’t know McGovern is for amnesty, abortion, and legalization of pot. Once middle America—Catholic middle America, in particular — finds this out, he’s dead.” After the death of former Senator, Thomas Eagleton, Novak claimed the quote was from Eagleton. No genuine evidence was ever produced to support this claim.

McGovern, however, did himself no favour by flip-flopping on his support for VP candidate Thomas Eagelton. Initially proclaiming “1000%” support for Eagleton, McGovern quickly dropped him when it became highly public that he suffered periodic bouts of depression and had received electroshock therapy. McGovern had a prime opportunity to show genuine support and create national discussion about depression which, unfortunately, did not occur until decades later. George negated an opportunity to become a pioneer while showing the compassion that was errantly ascribed to his character. This dismissal of Eagleton greatly diminished the perception of his worth… something he overcame through support from his constituency which gave him Senate victories in both 1974 and 1980. He later found placement as adjunct Professor of Public Affairs at Washington University.

Perhaps it was lack of sleep and the stress of campaigning that reared infrequent bouts of negativity and outright verbal nastiness toward workers from McGovern. This writer believed otherwise and warned workers that his impending loss would produce a clearer picture of the beleaguered politician.

At the time of the Eagleton issue, George had tossed Chicago Mayor, Richard Daley out of the DNC. Under considerable pressure and threats of loss of support from many corners, George apologized to Daley (Known for his mishandling of the ’68 Democrat Convention with heavy handed police assaulting protesters and conventioneers and creating the Chicago Seven [8]) and gave the VP slot to Sargent Shriver, a long time supporter of Daley and a Kennedy in-law.

Upon his election bid loss, George gave the public expectation of support for his team and workers. In a more private setting, he unceremoniously showed himself as a bitter loser casting blame in all directions.

He would go on to support Humphrey. He would also become a supporter of Gerald Ford and further support Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon (a bitter tasting memory for many of his previous supporters).

Bernie, perhaps tired as well for one reason or another, was captured at a town hall meeting barking at an individual who challenged his remarks on Israel and Palestine. In years prior (1999), a number of his workers became upset over his support for the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and his support for the continuing actions in Iraq. After ignoring their complaints, 25 entered his office and held a sit-in to get his attention. Bernie’s response was to call the police and have them arrested. Bernie had participated in a sit in many years earlier.

Bernie began his career in politics with challenge to the 2-party system and ran as an Independent. To his credit, he has always eschewed the corruption money brings to politics (although this did not stop him from collecting proxied AIPAC dollars or $10,000 from HillPac.. Hillary Clinton’s 2006 PAC). Nor did it stop him from accepting favours, for acquiescence to DNC wishes, such as having no Democratic challengers to his Senate runs and having Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer stump for him. Upon election to the Senate, Bernie rapidly lost any validity to his Independent claim. In fact, he would go on to denigrate others who did make independent runs for office… especially Ralph Nader.

George never ran as an Independent. He did take corporate money.

There are many other comparisons to be made, however, the similarities and differences of consequence are fairly represented here. What can honestly be ascertained, jointly, about Bernie and George is that they were politicians. A breed of self deceivers unlike any other. A breed of men/women so inclined by the nature of rising within a corrupt political system who, themselves, become corrupt and through self deception go on to careers of deceiving others with smiles and promises as empty as the pockets they casually fleece either in electoral process or through legislation. In contrast to whatever programs of denial they might use to convince otherwise, they are Party hacks, wags and useful tools of a corporate controlled theatrical production. Careerists, they are a most highly incestuous bunch who, despite the appearance of public difference and even anger or disdain for each other, all somehow manage to comfortably sleep in the same bed.

Every 2 and four year cycles, Americans dutifully surrender critical thinking and mass to primaries and general election to imagine themselves electing people to represent them. What they get is something quite different… Politicians… scoundrels who will spend whomever’s money they can get to represent themselves and their opportunistic careers.

Line up, folks… It’s votin’ time!


{This writer took it upon himself to invite several of his YIPPIE compatriots to a sponsored McGovern fundraising dinner.  Peggy Cass and Shirley MacLaine were guest speakers along with a visit from George. It was the last sponsored dinner for this writer and his last connection directly, however tenuous, with the Democrat Party. He never became a US Senator  **grin**}


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