George McGovern Quotes

George Stanley McGovern, 1922 – 2012

Born: 19 July 1922, Avon, South Dakota
Died: 21 October 2012, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

McGovern grew up at nearby Mitchell. He lost a high school debate to Eleanor Stegeberg, married her in 1943. He graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University, took private flying lessons to overcome his fear of heights, then joined the Civilian Pilot Training Program before enlisting in the Army Air Force. He flew his B-24 bomber, named Dakota Queen, in 35 missions over enemy territory. After the war he went to seminary, was ordained as a Methodist minister, but left the ministry to take a PhD in history at Northwestern University at Evanston, Illinois. He returned to Dokata Weslayan as a professor of history. He was an active supporter of Henry Wallace and the Progressive Party in 1948, became a Democrat after hearing Adlai Stevenson in 1952. He served two terms in the House (1956-1960), served as director of Kennedy’s Food for Peace program, then won a Senate seat in 1962 which he held for three terms. He ran for president on an anti-war platform against Richard Nixon in 1972, losing in the most lopsided electoral defeat in modern history. Since leaving the Senate in 1980 he has taught history and campaigned for international food programs.

George McGovern quotes:

Ever since I was a young man, I wanted to run for the presidency in the worst possible way — and I did.
    George McGovern – Gridiron Club dinner (1973)

I always thought of myself as a good old South Dakota boy who grew up here on the prairie. My dad was a Methodist minister. I went off to war. I have been married to the same woman forever. I’m what a normal, healthy, ideal American should be like.
    George McGovern – interview with The New York Times (2005)

I am fed up with a system which busts the pot smoker and lets the big dope racketeer go free.
    George McGovern

I didn’t know a damned thing about mental illness and neither did anyone around me.
    George McGovern – interview with The New York Times (2005)

I don’t think the American people had a clear picture of either Nixon or me. I think they thought that Nixon was a strong, decisive, tough-minded guy and that I was an idealist and antiwar guy who might not attach enough significance to the security of the country. The truth is, I was the guy with the war record, and my opposition to Vietnam was because I was interested in the nation’s well-being.
    George McGovern – interview with The New York Times (2005)

I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.
    George McGovern

It is simply untrue that all our institutions are evil,… that all politicians are mere opportunists, that all aspects of university life are corrupt. Having discovered an illness, it’s not terribly useful to prescribe death as a cure.
    George McGovern

It was an issue-oriented campaign, and we should have paid more attention to image.
    George McGovern – interview with The New York Times (2005)

No man should advocate a course in private that he’s ashamed to admit in public.
    George McGovern

Politics is an act of faith; you have to show some kind of confidence in the intellectual and moral capacity of the public.
    George McGovern

So, I think that’s the centerpiece of morality: Don’t lie. But to do that, you have to go a step further and find out what the truth is.
    George McGovern

The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one’s country deep enough to call her to a higher plane.
    George McGovern

The longer the title, the less important the job.
    George McGovern

The trouble was, all people saw on television were a few of my outspoken supporters out front; and they came away thinking that was me.
    George McGovern

The whole campaign was a tragic case of mistaken identity.
    George McGovern

We are at a crossroads over how the federal government in Washington and state legislatures and city councils across the land allocate their financial resources. Which fork we take will say a lot about Americans and our values.

George McGovern

What It Means to Be a Democrat (2011)
We are the party that believes we can’t let the strong kick aside the weak. Our party believes that poor children should be as well educated as those from wealthy families. We believe that everyone should pay their fair share of taxes and that everyone should have access to health care.

George McGovern

What It Means to Be a Democrat (2011)
We reject the view of those who say, ‘America, love it or leave it.’ We reply, ‘Let us change it so we can love it more.’

George McGovern

acceptance speech (1972)
When people ask if the United States can afford to place on trial the president, if the system can stand impeachment, my answer is, “Can we stand anything else?”

George McGovern
You know, sometimes, when they say you’re ahead of your time, it’s just a polite way of saying you have a real bad sense of timing.

George McGovern
You never fully get over [losing a presidential campaign]. But I’ve had a good life. I’ve enjoyed myself 90 percent of the time.

George McGovern

interview with The New York Times (2005)

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