Although I look like I’m only 42, I swear, I was twelve years old when McGovern was running against Nixon in 1972. Nixon would go on to crush McGovern, of course, but my brother and I and our friend Jim volunteered for the campaign and converted at least one voter: my Mom.
My Mom was planning to vote for Nixon, as I recall. But my brother and I talked to her and changed her mind and, in the end, she actually signed up to drive folks to the polls on election day.
We three kids held big McGovern signs across the street from our school, which was the neighborhood polling place, as Republican ladies in our largely Republican town sniffed and harrumphed past us on their way to keep Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, and Henry Kissinger in the White House for four more years.
e got our news from newspapers then, and every morning I would read the Boston Globe, first the sports section, then the editorial pages. I was kind of a weird kid, I guess, to be reading Art Buchwald and Mary McGrory and the other great voices of the day.
We had to write an editorial in social studies class that year, and a few years ago I found it at my parents’ house. Have a look.
It was called, “The U.S. Voters Picked the Wrong One,” and I am pretty impressed with this kid who knew obscure facts and assembled them into a logical argument.
It shows what many people have forgotten: that the scandals that would take Nixon down were already in the public record in November, 1972. I was just a kid reading the Globe and Newsweek, which came to our house every week. There were no other sources. I wrote:
If George McGovern had had the money for his campaign that Nixon did, his chances would have been much better. Of course, to get this money, it would have taken chasing like the president did. Mr. Nixon got his money from the dairy farmers, in exchange for permission to raise their prices, ITT, in exchange for Nixon’s dropping of the law suit against the company, and from many other people.
Senator McGovern should have demanded a debate with Nixon….
How could anyone vote for a man who does special favors for people and companies who contribute to his campaign fund? A man who promised to stop the was and failed, instead killing millions of people with bombs, bombs being paid for by the taxes of the American people? A man under whom taxes, unemployment, and prices have risen too much? They deserve what we’re going to get, under Richard Nixon.
What a nerd.
I thought of all this yesterday when a diary written with me in mind briefly made the DailyKos rec list, and then was updated to insult me and question my connection to reality.
What is the thought crime of which I’m guilty? Apparently it is shining a light on a Democratic candidate during the primary season. Making an exhaustively researched issues chart (that’s been read well over 100K times, by the way) of how the two candidates compare because the ones floating around the internet were inaccurate and incomplete.
Researching and writing a very lengthy story making a case for why Hillary is not the candidate she claims to be and is, in fact, very vulnerable to losing in November.
I’m being divisive by pointing out Hillary’s record, I’m told. I’m in denial, I’m told. It’s backfiring, I’m told, because my insistence on reporting facts in her record turns people off.
Honestly, I don’t give a shit about what anyone here says about me. Knock yourself out. If the facts upset you — if the basic reporting that this candidate has, for example, voted in opposition to a ban on cluster bombs upsets you — then you are not my audience.
I have spoken out for justice my whole life (but not enough). I have worked for justice my whole life (but not enough). I love the possibility of what this country could be. I was an American Studies major in college because I needed to know why we so often fall short of our potential.
What did I write about in these recent stories?
I wrote about Clinton’s history of supporting war, arms sales, regimes with poor records on human rights, and corporate interests over the ability of families in Haiti to feed themselves.
Why am I doing this? Because I was writing about Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger in 1972. And because it breaks my heart to see what has become of the Democratic Party in my lifetime. I voted for Bill Clinton twice, because the alternative was worse. But it shames me to have had to vote for a man who left the campaign trail to execute a mentally incapable black man to show how tough he was on crime. A man so mentally incapacitated that, at his last meal, he asked if he could save his dessert for later.
And it shames me that the party I grew up with is rallying around a neocon whose actions do not reflect much concern for poor brown people in other countries.
If that is impolite, I’m guilty. But I think it’s true, and I won’t keep quiet. Because I am a white, educated man with significant privilege, and the very least I can do with my privilege is use it to speak for those who do not have a voice in our debate.
So I will, in my small way, give voice to people around the world who have no vote and who have suffered enormously because of Hillary Clinton and her friends and allies.
She supported a military coup in Honduras, for fuck sake. She pressured Haiti to keep wages low because Levi’s didn’t want to pay 62 cents an hour. She broke a 2008 campaign pledge to oppose a trade deal in Colombia because they were using violence to intimidate the unions (and made her family and its foundation far richer in the process).
If you have a case to make for why these things are okay, please make that case. If you are comfortable voting for her despite this record, you have every right to do so.
But please don’t ask me to keep quiet because the truth is embarrassing or divisive. I will keep shining a light on her record. Because it’s not about the party, it’s not about her turn, and it’s not about a woman in the White House.
It’s about respect for human rights, international law, and people over profits. And people outside our little bubble here care a lot more about those things than you might think.
My long story has been shared on Facebook more than 47,000 times [edit: More than 60,000 times as of 3/7/16.] Strangers on Facebook are saying it changed their mind, that it’s the most fact-based and least mean-spirited piece they’ve read this year.
This is the primary season and we have a right to have an informed debate about where the candidates stand.
And if Hillary wins? Then, as I wrote in 1972, the American people are going to get what they deserve.