The Argus in 1972: “George McGovern might very well be the man to lead the United States out of its present moral crisis.”
George McGovern, the United States senator from South Dakota and fierce antiwar advocate, died early yesterday morning in Sioux Falls, S.D, at the age of 90. Most students will recall McGovern as the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in 1972, when he was defeated by President Nixon in a staggering electoral landslide. (McGovern managed to carry a single state, plus D.C., to Nixon’s 49.) (Massachusetts was the single state.) (This later inspired bumper stickers reading, “Don’t blame me—I’m from Massachusetts.”) Most students will not know that McGovern was also a Wesleyan alumnus.
Dakota Wesleyan, that is—probably the only Wesleyan I haven’t been mistaken for attending. McGovern graduated in 1946, then returned to the school, where he had met his wife, only a few years later to teach history and political science. Today, a guest book appears on Dakota Wesleyan’s website.
Back to our Wesleyan. On May 5, 1972, the Argus editorial board formally announced its endorsement of then-presumptive Democratic nominee McGovern in an editorial titled “Nixon, No! McGovern, Si!” “Indeed,” the Argus proclaimed, “McGovern is probably the best man that the system has to offer who has a viable chance of winning the Presidency.” About that viable chance…
Here’s the Argus‘ reasoning:
“For years, George McGovern has fought tirelessly against the War in Indochina, for new national priorities, for a serious curtailment of the military, for an end to hunger for the country’s poor, for the rights of minorities, and for more equitable incomes. . . . Most importantly, George McGovern might very well be the man to lead the United States out of its present moral crisis.”
No word on their endorsement for VP, be it Thomas Eagleton or his replacement, Sargent Shriver. But this was 1972, and the voting age had just been lowered to 18, enfranchising the vast majority of (American) Wesleyan students. Naturally, much of the editorial focuses on the dangers of not voting McGovern—namely, four more years of Nixon:
One is never quite certain where Richard Nixon stands; he must have learned how to be evasive in college, either as a Speech major or else as a football player. Is Nixon still keeping his 1968 secret peace plan secret? He promised peace four years ago and look where we are now. Sure, only 65,000 troops remain in Vietnam, but the American air barrage is more devastating than ever. At present, few Americans die each week, but as many Vietnamese as ever, from both the North and the South, are being killed. It seems that Mr. Nixon has forgotten that the Vietnamese are human beings, too.
About those four more years…