George McGovern, known for his ultra-liberal stance on issues of his day, passed away on Sunday, October 21st, at Dougherty Hospice House in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, at age 90.
Active in promoting liberal programs almost from the first, McGovern was convinced that government could be used as an instrument to improve society, especially in providing food for the poor in America and around the world. He saw the American government and the United Nations as tools to promote sustenance for them. He helped create the United Nations’ World Food Program which distributed U.S. food “surpluses” to needy people abroad, and issued the McGovern Report, which set up nutritional guidelines for Americans.
He served as U.S. Ambassador to the UN agencies for Food and Agriculture, and was appointed the first UN Global Ambassador on World Hunger in 2001.
But he is primarily remembered for losing his bid as the Democrat party’s presidential candidate in 1972 to President Richard Nixon in one of the worst political defeats in American history. McGovern lost the popular vote 38% to 61%, and the Electoral College vote 17-520. He even lost his own state, winning only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia in the race.
As a member of the House, starting in 1956, he favored government intervention in the free market, supporting his agricultural constituency in South Dakota with policies that kept commodity prices high while giving farmers subsidies and price supports, setting up grain storage programs and putting tariffs on imported beef. He pushed for federal aid to small business owners, federal aid to education, and expanded medical coverage under Social Security. He voted for the federal food stamp law and took positions favored by the liberal Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) 34 times during his tenure in the House and against them just 3 times.
Upon being elected Senator from South Dakota in 1962, he endorsed similar positions but began to make waves with his increasingly insistent opposition to the gathering momentum of the Vietnam War.
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Photo: In this photo from July 24, 2010, former U.S. senator George McGovern speaks in Columbus, Neb.: AP Image