Nick Gillespie on George McGovern as Libertarian Hero at Bloomberg View

I eulogize the late senator and presidential candidate over at Bloomberg View. Snippets:

When you take a longer view of his career -- especially after he got bounced from the Senate in 1980 during the Republican landslide he helped create -- what emerges is a rare public figure whose policy positions shifted to an increasingly libertarian stance in response to a world that’s far more complicated than most politicians can ever allow....

McGovern believed that attempts to impose single-value standards were profoundly un-American and “that we cannot allow the micromanaging of each other’s lives.” But as governments at various levels expand their control of everything from health- care to mortgages to the consumption of soda pop and so much more, that’s exactly what’s happening.

In 1972, McGovern was out of step with the American public. Not anymore. Large majorities see the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as the mistakes and failures they plainly were. And his criticism of paternalism is wildly popular with everyone but our rulers. An August 2012 CNN/ORC International Poll found that only 40 percent of registered voters want the government to “promote traditional values,” a finding that is down from 57 percent in 2008. CNN also found that “six in 10 say that government is doing too much that should be left to businesses and individuals.”

These days, it’s politicians of both parties who are out of step with the voting public. As the nation prepares to pay its last respects to George McGovern, we can only hope that our leaders will learn from his example and become less confident in telling us how to live our lives.

Read the whole thing here.

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  • SIV||

    Among the horrors of that convention 40 years ago? Support for Title IX, which banned discrimination against women in federal education funding, and the Equal Rights Amendment. Other delegates spoke out in favor of gay rights, legal contraception for unmarried couples (still a touchy issue in 1972), and abortion rights.

    Liberaltarians luv dem sum Title IX. It's almost as freedom-y as government funded fetal stem cell research!

  • PapayaSF||

    Yes, Title IX sucks, because it's interpreted to mean that men's programs must be cut if there aren't enough women interested in sports.

  • johnl||

    And gender discrimination is fine, just not discrimination against women.

  • Emperor Wears No Clothes||

    Thank heavens for Title IX. How else would we have arrived in a world where campus administrators have to pretend cheerleading is a sport on par with football.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    McGovern believed that attempts to impose single-value standards were profoundly un-American and “that we cannot allow the micromanaging of each other’s lives.”

    I have a tough time swallowing this from the guy who started the US on the road to diabetes and obesity by pushing to standardize everybody's diet.

  • Mike M.||

    At least he eventually came to realize the areas in which he had previously been wrong and was willing to adopt a new perspective, something you don't see too often from politicians. He sounds like he passed away a very wise and mature man. R.I.P.

  • ||

    At least he eventually came to realize the areas in which he had previously been wrong and was willing to adopt a new perspective

    That's a long, long way from "libertarian hero" if you ask me.

  • Mr. Soul||

    yeah. It not very helpful that he came to his senses after he had any power. Presumably, Barry can do the same thing. America needs politicians who come to their senses before or while they have power.

  • C. Anacreon||

    Yikes, what an unflattering picture with a downtrodden expression McG has on that button -- is that really the best the campaign could do? I remember kids at my 7th grade class that year trying to pass out McGovern buttons but no one really wanted one, probably because no kid would want some ugly old guy's face on their lapel?

    Jeez, think of the unsightly mugs in the elections those days -- Nixon, McGovern, Humphrey. Even my mental pictures of them are of unpleasant, constipated, scowling men. Nobody that unattractive runs for POTUS anymore, even McCain is Cary Grant compared to those guys.

    Also, I think times have really changed. I'm almost 52, so older than McG was in that photo, but I think by current standards he looks closer to 65. Maybe nowadays 60 really is the new 40?

  • Bruce Hall||

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I wonder how much of either major party's public policy has been formed during campaigns, shaped solely as a counter to the other's.

    Also, I guess McGovern died.

  • JW||

    He's not dead yet. He's feeling better.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    He's dead, Jim.

  • geo1113||

    All one needs to do is read a few passages from his recent book, "What it Means To Be A Democrat", and it becomes abundantly clear that McGovern is not a libertarian hero.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Mr. Gillespie might be using this opportunity to once again put libertarian positions out there on the ideas market.

  • SIV||

    Or he is lazily recycling a tweet from one of his beltway buddies.

  • FTFY||

    Mr. Gillespie might be using this opportunity to once again put libertarian liberal positions out there on the ideas market as libertarian.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    There is an intersection of liberal ideas with libertarian ones.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Ideally, certain purported liberal ideas. None of the economic ones, of course.

  • BigT||

    Other than gay marriage?

    Keep searching in Palin's ass, you're getting warm.

  • Zeb||

    Liberal, not Democrat or progressive. Maybe I'm behind the times, but to be called "liberal" one really needs to support civil liberties in some strong sense.

  • ||

    An August 2012 CNN/ORC International Poll found that only 40 percent of registered voters want the government to “promote traditional values,” a finding that is down from 57 percent in 2008. CNN also found that “six in 10 say that government is doing too much that should be left to businesses and individuals.”

    This alleged eulogy valid in dictionary form only is another step in that road, methinks, as Gillespie likes to beat that "traditional values" drum, but never seems to ask that same group of poll respondents if they want someone else to pay for all that fun and frivolity of so-called "non-traditional values."

    Couldn't resist politicizing a eulogy, could ya Gillespie? Stay classy.

  • ||

    Is there a eulogy for a major politician that WON'T be political?

  • ||

    Gillespie likes to beat that "traditional values" drum, but never seems to ask that same group of poll respondents if they want someone else to pay for all that fun and frivolity of so-called "non-traditional values."

    Exactly. That stat is completely meaningless from a libertarian perspective.

  • Azathoth!!||

    No. There isn't.

    There are concepts that liberals will profess to support in order to get closer to the reins of power.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    we cannot allow the micromanaging of each other’s lives.

    Haha, that's funny.

  • JW||

    It's not enough that he's been branded as a failure his entire life, but now you have to call him a libertarian? Jeez, Nick.

  • ||

    From TFA:

    we can only hope that our leaders will learn from his example and become less confident in telling us how to live our lives.

    I agree JW. Nick is really contorting himself on this one. Grasping at straws, I daresay, since McGovern never had any problems with regulations. He only say the light after he actually had work in the system he advocated, and was almost literally a deathbed realization.

    At that point, he was socially and politically irrelevant.

    I'm just sitting back and waiting for REASON to endorse ObamaCare because of the protection and potentiation of certain social issue-y aspects of the law, which I do think Gillespie et al. would do wholeheartedly upon realization that we are stuck with it in toto. Along the lines of "Well, we can't get rid of it, so let's embrace it and work within it to protect our pet causes!"

    Much like, say, Shit Flopney...

  • ||

    I'm just sitting back and waiting for REASON to endorse ObamaCare because of the protection and potentiation of certain social issue-y aspects of the law,

    If you really think this, you're a complete moron.

    which I do think Gillespie et al. would do wholeheartedly upon realization that we are stuck with it in toto.

    Yup, you're a complete idiot. Does time run backwards in your world, GM?

  • ||

    Nick is really contorting himself on this one.

    Since Nick's point is that McGovern's views on regulation became less liberal over time, which is true, there's no contortion necessary. Nick praises his opposition to war, and his growing dislike for regulation.

    McGovern never had any problems with regulations

    “ ‘one-size-fits-all’ rules for business ignored the reality of the marketplace.”

    Yeah, that TOTALLY sounds like never having problems with regulation, nosiree.

    He only say the light after he actually had work in the system he advocated,

    I'd hardly call the 90's Mcgovern's "death bed", since he's only now died in 2012.

  • Zeb||

    "less liberal"

    How did the word "liberal" come to mean the exact opposite of what it should mean? More liberal regulation should mean fewer and less burdensome regulations.

  • ||

    I do, darius, actually, when the Stockholm Syndrome sets in. Though to be fair, "wholeheartedly" should be changed to "begrudgingly". -)))

    Before the 2008 presidential campaign, McGovern endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination but switched to Barack Obama that May. He called the future president "a moderate," cautious in his ways, who wouldn't waste money or do "anything reckless."

    "I think Barack will emerge as one of our great ones," he said in a 2009 interview with The Associated Press. "It will be a victory for moderate liberalism."

    Yes, he certainly learned so much from his personal economic failures. This endorsement came after his demonstrable failures in the private sector, by the by.

    And he has been really relevant to this overall economic process of argument, hasn't he? In fact, his only relevance is his recent demise.

    I look at what he did in office and to a certain degree, disavowed much of it, but to paint him as a having a "Come to Jebus moment," is laughable at best. Oh, and Mcgovern is on record of supporting ObamneyCare and HillaryCare.

  • ||

    I do, darius, actually, when the Stockholm Syndrome sets in. Though to be fair, "wholeheartedly" should be changed to "begrudgingly". -)))

    I take back calling you stupid, it's just that comments like that really piss me off. It's the sort of rhetoric I expect from Tulpa or John.

    Yes, he certainly learned so much from his personal economic failures. This endorsement came after his demonstrable failures in the private sector, by the by.

    And he has been really relevant to this overall economic process of argument, hasn't he? In fact, his only relevance is his recent demise.

    I look at what he did in office and to a certain degree, disavowed much of it, but to paint him as a having a "Come to Jebus moment," is laughable at best. Oh, and Mcgovern is on record of supporting ObamneyCare and HillaryCare.

    That's a pretty fair assessment. I wouldn't exactly call McGovern a libertarian either, and it's always easier for politicians to come out against their previous stances when they're no longer in a position to actually DO anything about it.

  • ||

    Since Nick's point is that McGovern's views on regulation became less liberal over time, which is true, there's no contortion necessary. Nick praises his opposition to war, and his growing dislike for regulation.

    Less liberal is true, but largely degree without distinction. He only did so when got fucked in the brownhole by the very policies he advocated and helped enact.

    I respect wholeheartedly his war opposition, as:

    A) He served in the military with distinction and honour.

    B) It was the only area of his politics that was remotely consistent.

    Otherwise, after his FAILED run at the presidency, he was about as politically relevant as a ham sandwich.

  • pradaguccioutlet@gmail.co||

    McGovern believed that attempts to impose single-value standards were profoundly un-American and “that we cannot allow the micromanaging of each other’s lives.” But as governments at various levels expand their control of everything from health- care to mortgages to the consumption of soda pop and so much more, that’s exactly what’s happening. cheap nfl jerseys Prop 30, but also against Prop 32 because the faculty have succeded in convincing the students that they're the victims and that the rich just need to pay more and everything will be fine.

  • FD||

    "McGovern believed that attempts to impose single-value standards were profoundly un-American... But as governments at various levels expand their control of everything... that’s exactly what’s happening."
    Indeed.
    And in spite of a more subtle, McNamara-esque mea culpa by George when he had to earn a living, he and his ilk had done enough damage on the domestic landscape. His crocodile tears over micro-management remind me of the ACLU -- big intrusive government needs to be thwarted by bigger, more intrusive government.

  • PapayaSF||

    Is it unlibertarian to want a "Flag as spam" button?

  • Lewisite||

    Is it "For the childrunz"?

  • PapayaSF||

    Great quote from the other day which deserves reposting again: "Government has become so vast and impersonal that its interests diverge more and more from the interests of ordinary citizens. For a generation and more, the government has sought to meet our needs by multiplying its bureaucracy. Washington has taken too much in taxes from Main Street, and Main Street has received too little in return. It is not necessary to centralize power in order to solve our problems." —George McGovern, 1972

    What a thing to hear from an "ultraliberal" Democrat! And to think he thought the government was "so vast" in 1972! We are always hearing how Republicans are so radical now compared to the Old Days, but this quote alone tops anything on the GOP side.

  • Gladstone||

    Of course if you look at what McGovern actually advocated in 1972 you will see that it was mainly...more centralizing bureaucracy!

  • Gladstone||

    So why are we all forgetting McGovern's support for guaranteed minimum incomes?

  • ||

    Doesn't fit the social issue-y narrative.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    You mean Milton Freidman's idea?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G.....mum_income

  • ||

    Don't forget this was an integral part of this idea.

    To offset, of course, this.

    Istead, we got the guaranteed minimum wage, a shit load of entitlement spending in addition to that, and no reforms of the tax code as far as the eye can see.

  • Proprietist||

    I'm a libertarian and support guaranteed minimum income - the citizen's dividend (rebate) from the single land value tax. So does any libertarian who supports the FairTax. So, yeah.

  • CE||

    Why does the government own all the land?

  • Gladstone||

    Here is the 1972 Democratic platform:

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu.....?pid=29605

  • SIV||

    Hell, reading that you'd think McGovern flew Petlyakovs in The Great Patriotic War.

  • Emperor Wears No Clothes||

    I love it when political parasites talk of giving people "dignity" like it's something that can be ordered off the shelf.

  • Zeb||

    I always find that a bit weird too. Dignity is never about what other people give you, but about how you handle yourself even in a bad situation.

  • tagtann||

    Dude you gotta just love those pompous windbags. Wow.

    www.Over-Anon.tk

  • David Emami||

    Well, I guess when I asked "who's next, Noam Chomsky?" during the praise for Gore Vidal, I picked the wrong leftist. Apparently all you need to do to earn the praise of the Reason staff nowadays is criticize US foreign policy. Instant path to libertarian sainthood merely by agreeing with a subgroup of libertarians!

    As for McGovern having second thoughts about the utter wonderfulness of business regulations once he was on the receiving end of them, yeah, I remember hearing about that at the time and finding it amusing. I'll give him credit for reconsidering, but such things didn't exactly give him pause when he was on the dishing-out side of the equation.

    Further, McGovern's platform called for stepping up antitrust activity, unionization of government employees, socialized medicine, increasing the progressivity of the tax code, and many other things in that vein, guided by such Marcuseian principles as "Social Justice" and "Economic Justice." His policy positions would have been right at home in Charlotte back in September.

  • Gladstone||

    Well, I guess when I asked "who's next, Noam Chomsky?" during the praise for Gore Vidal, I picked the wrong leftist. Apparently all you need to do to earn the praise of the Reason staff nowadays is criticize US foreign policy. Instant path to libertarian sainthood merely by agreeing with a subgroup of libertarians!

    Hugo Chavez?

    Amusingly this is true of the Rockwellians as well. Looks like the cosmos and paleos have found common ground!

    Further, McGovern's platform called for stepping up antitrust activity, unionization of government employees, socialized medicine, increasing the progressivity of the tax code, and many other things in that vein, guided by such Marcuseian principles as "Social Justice" and "Economic Justice." His policy positions would have been right at home in Charlotte back in September.

    It attacked Nixonian bureaucracy by calling for more...bureaucracy. And lots of calls for more federal funding. And Full employment. And attacked Nixon's price controls by calling for more price controls. So much for McGovern's dislike of centralization and micromanagement.

  • SIV||

    Regulatin', welfare-lovin' Nick Gillespie:

    aikimoe in reply to Jeff Blanks 18 hours ago

    I don't think there is such a thing as "typical libertarianism."

    For instance, the author of this thoughtful piece, libertarian Nick Gillespie has stated his support for environmental regulations and a social safety net. And he's among the most read, well-known libertarians in the country.
  • Ron||

    They have been running documentaries about McGovern on "LinkTv"(or as I call it the anti U.S. channel) for a while now talking about how great and progressive this nation would have been if McGovern had won. He was not a libertarian, antiwar maybe since he wasn't in charge but libertarian no.

  • Azathoth!!||

    There some new defintion of 'Libertarian' you're using there, Nick?

  • CE||

    Well, rest in peace Mr. McGovern, but why is he lauded as the "prairie populist" and "America's Quixote", when Ron Paul is treated like a crank?

  • jacob the barbarian||

    I think Nick has been smoking something. What ever it is, I want some -- because it has got to be good to make the leap he did writing this whopper of an article.

    McGovern was a statist through and through. McG lamented HIS run ins with our idiocracy, he had he became a mere subject of the realm; that is called 'self pity'. It never occurred to McG that his trouble with over regulation was a biproduct of the liberalism he championed. His life was about statism.

    I just hope Nick back channels where he gets his stash.

  • FD||

    Right on -- that is, the McG thang.
    The Nick rec preferences, not sure.

  • Uncle Joe||

    George McGovern was an unabashed liberal. Liberal, not libertarian.

    McGovern fought for a strong social safety net, something that comfortable libertarians see no use for. You might as well write an article praising Reagan for raising taxes to reduce the deficit.

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