George McGovern Is Gone and We Still Have Unfinished Work

George McGovern died this morning. In many ways, his acceptance speech from 1972 could be given today:

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….

Yet I believe that every man and woman in this Convention Hall knows that for 30 years we have been so absorbed with fear and danger from abroad that we have permitted our own house to fall into disarray.

We must now show that peace and prosperity can exist side by side. Indeed, each now depends on the existence of the other. National strength includes the credibility of our system in the eyes of our own people as well as the credibility of our deterrent in the eyes of others abroad.

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.

So while protecting ourselves abroad, let us form a more perfect union here at home….

We must also make this a time of justice and jobs for all our people. For more than three and half years we have tolerated stagnation and a rising level of joblessness, with more than five million of our best workers unemployed at this very moment. Surely, this is the most false and wasteful economics of all.

Our deep need is not for idleness but for new housing and hospitals, for facilities to combat pollution and take us home from work, for better products able to compete on vigorous world markets.

The highest single domestic priority of the next administration will be to ensure that every American able to work has a job to.

That job guarantee will and must depend on a reinvigorated private economy, freed at last from the uncertainties and burdens of war, but it is our firm commitment that whatever employment the private sector does not provide, the Federal government will either stimulate or provide itself.

Whatever it takes, this country is going back to work. America cannot exist with most of our people working and paying taxes to support too many others mired in a demeaning and hopeless welfare mess.

Therefore, we intend to begin by putting millions back to work and after that is done, we will assure to those unable to work an income fully adequate to a decent life.

Now beyond this, a program to put America back to work demands that work be properly rewarded. That means the end of a system of economic controls in which labor is depressed, but prices and corporate profit run sky-high.

It means a system of national health insurance so that a worker can afford decent health care for himself and his family…

And above all, above all, honest work must be rewarded by a fair and just tax system.

The tax system today does not reward hard work: it’s penalizes it. Inherited or invested wealth frequently multiplies itself while paying no taxes at all. But wages on the assembly line or in farming the land, these hard – earned dollars are taxed to the very last penny.

There is a depletion allowance for oil wells, but no depletion for the farmer who feeds us, or the worker who serves as all.

The administration tells us that we should not discuss tax reform and the election year. They would prefer to keep all discussion of the tax laws in closed rooms where the administration, its powerful friends, and their paid lobbyists, can turn every effort at reform into a new loophole for the rich and powerful.

But an election year is the people’s year to speak, and this year, the people are going to ensure that the tax system is changed so that work is rewarded and so that those who derive the highest benefits will pay their fair share rather than slipping through the loopholes at the expense of the rest of us.

So let us stand for justice and jobs and against special privilege…

And this is the time to stand for those things that are close to the American spirit. We are not content with things as they are. We reject the view of those who say, “America — love it or leave it. “ We reply, ”Let us change it so we may love it the more.”

…From secrecy and deception in high places; come home, America

From military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation; come home, America.

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.

Come home to the affirmation that we have a dream. Come home to the conviction that we can move our country forward.

Forty years later, and we haven’t made much progress.

For the young’uns and political recent comers, welcome, and realize that there’s a reason I keep arguing that Obama et alia are de facto Rockefeller Republicans. Because that speech will never be given by a ‘New’ Democrat.

And it should be. It must be.

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1 Response to George McGovern Is Gone and We Still Have Unfinished Work

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