Posted by on October 24, 2012 in Blog
With the death of George McGovern this weekend, our nation lost an influential American thinker, historian, and politician who will be remembered for his dedication to public service and his advocacy work against war and hunger around the world.
Senator McGovern’s political career began in 1956 when he ran for House Representative of South Dakota’s 1st congressional district and won, becoming the district’s first Democratic Congressman in twenty-two years. In 1962, McGovern became Senator of South Dakota. In 1972, the Democratic Party elected him as the presidential nominee against Richard Nixon. Although he lost, Senator McGovern remained politically active in the Senate where he served a total of twenty-two years.
Senator McGovern has always promoted peace and justice as an American statesman. In September 1963, he became the first member on the Senate floor to challenge the Vietnam War, stating “current U.S. involvement is a policy of moral debacle and political defeat...The trap we have fallen into there will haunt us in every corner of this revolutionary world if we do not properly appraise its lessons.” Throughout his life, Senator McGovern continued to fight for peace and justice and in 1991 became President of the Middle East Policy Council, a nonprofit organization that promotes understanding of U.S. interests in the Middle East. There, he worked to promote peace in the Middle East a cause he fought for long after leaving the Middle East Policy Council.
With a shared vision for Middle East peace, AAI President Jim Zogby and Senator McGovern had crossed paths over the years in Washington. In 2008, Senator McGovern wrote a book entitled “Abraham Lincoln - The American Presidents Series: The 16th President, 1861-1865”, in which he discussed the life of one of the most influential historical figures in American history. Jim hosted McGovern on Viewpoint to discuss Lincoln’s 200th anniversary and his book. Throughout their discussion, Senator McGovern shed light on Lincoln’s thoughts on slavery, democracy, war, and freedom as well as his accomplishments, stating that “Lincoln created the famous homestead act that provided the basis of the family farm unit in American life, he created the Department of Agriculture on his watch, and finally as if that weren’t enough in the middle of the war, he built the transcontinental railway from Omaha all the way to Sacramento.” He added, “those are four huge historical steps.”
Jim and Senator McGovern also discussed his work as an advocate against world hunger. McGovern was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2000 for his humanitarian work and served as Ambassador to the UN Agency on Food and Agriculture. In addition, he co-founded the International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. On Viewpoint, he said, “we are trying to establish an international school lunch under the jurisdiction of the UN that would reach every hungry school-aged kid in the world. I want to live long enough to see that accomplished.”