The two major policy pitches of the Democratic nominee for president of the United States in 1972 were clear: an immediate end to the Vietnam War, and an immediate guarantee of a minimum income for all Americans. George McGovern ran for president that year, but the most progressive Democratic nominee in recent history did not get very far. He suffered the second-largest rout for a Democrat in American Electoral College history.
Incumbent Richard Nixon won 49 states and 520 electoral votes, severely wounding the spirits of countless young progressives. And I don’t think some of them ever fully recovered. “It was a generational defeat,” as BuzzFeed’s Katherine Miller wrote.
Some of these ’70s youngsters licked their wounds in 1972 and carried on with their progressive politics, howling for decades in lonely political winds. Other ’70s youngsters patched themselves up after the McGovern debacle by turning away from progressive policies, and by turning the Democratic Party away from progressive candidates, nurturing a deep cynicism about big, structural change. At the altar of Ronald Reagan’s conservative revolution, some ’70s youngsters married themselves to moderation, or to conservatism. It was as if a progressive candidate had been their first love, and she had broken their heart, and they vowed to never, ever give another progressive a chance at breaking their political heart again.
Immagine da Needpix