In Memoriam: Senator George McGovern
October 21, 2012 • 11:10PM

What Would the U.S. Be Like Without FDR?

Much can be said, and is being said, about the long, full life of former Senator and Presidential Candidate George McGovern, who died on Sunday morning at the age of 90. But, we must emphasize that, fundamental to Senator McGovern's view of what he thought the country, and his Democratic Party should stand for, was his understanding of FDR's leadership.

In his autobiography, Senator McGovern described his reaction upon hearing of Roosevelt's death in April 1945, when he was a bomber pilot stationed in Italy. McGovern said, "Most of us had never really known the United States except with FDR as President. We did not think of him as a politician. He was that magnificent voice of the fireside chat who inspired all those who stood for freedom and decency in the war. What would the United States be like without him?"

In an interview with EIR, after Hurricane Katrina, McGovern contrasted the Bush administration's reaction to the emergency, with what Roosevelt had done after the crash of 1929. He said, "President Roosevelt acted to save the nation and the common good. He even closed the banks and then opened them up again, fit to serve the people and the nation. He passed regulations against the crime of speculation. He gave people hope against their worst fears."

A South Dakota native, Senator McGovern ran for President on an anti-Vietnam war platform in 1972, after a number of terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. He lost overwhelmingly, but he often joked, in numerous conversations with this author, that "even Dick Nixon would be happier if I had won."

He was critical of the lack of backbone among Democrats. In 2008 he published a call for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney in the Washington Post, emphasizing that they were far more guilty of high crimes than even Richard Nixon. Impeachment is "unlikely," he wrote, not only because of the Republican opposition, but because of "a lack of courage and statesmanship on the part of too many Democratic politicians." "Impeachment," he noted, is "quite simply, the procedure written into the Constitution to deal with Presidents who violate the Constitution and the laws of the land."

Senator McGovern was appointed by President John F. Kennedy as the first director of the U.S. Food for Peace program in 1961. President Clinton, who had been the campaign manager for the State of Texas in McGovern's Presidential campaign, appointed him U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. In 2008, in response a call by Helga Zepp-LaRouche to double food production, Sen. George McGovern told the LaRouche Political Action Committee (LPAC), that he would support all efforts to increase world food production around the Food and Agriculture Organization meeting. "We can't put hunger on hold," he said. "We have to look forward both to a larger world population, and to feeding them better." Looking back to John F. Kennedy's Food for Peace policy, McGovern said, "JFK developed a blueprint. We kept India alive, for example, until, through the Green Revolution, it became self-sufficient in food. That has to be our food politics, worldwide."