McGovern, it is true, opposed the war in Vietnam before it was popular to do so, and showed rare political courage, taking a position he thought was right although it could not help his political career. He was a straight-shooter, honest, and principled, and one could reject his policies and still respect him as a person of honor who thought what he fought for was in the nation’s best interest. A war hero, he did not ever mention his war record to try and show that he had fought valiantly for America, even though Nixon was condemning him for weakness and for having no concern for America’s position in the world. He simply did not feel to raise his own war record was the right thing to do, especially since he had become anti-war.
His defeat revealed to most people that standing for national office on a platform of extreme leftism, if openly proclaimed, could lead only to political destruction. Future leftist candidates learned from the outcome in 1972 that a more stealth approach to a move to the left was the way to operate if one wanted to achieve, as Barack Obama put it in 2008, a “fundamental transformation” of the United States based on redistribution of wealth and attainment of a social-democratic model for a future America.
A good and decent man who advocated policies that were both dangerous and wrong, he passed away living into his 90th year. R.I.P.