As the director of the McGovern Center at Dakota Wesleyan University, one of my professional responsibilities is to re-focus and revitalize the memory of Sen. George McGovern. This is my joy and privilege. Sen. McGovern was born 100 years ago this summer (July 19, 1922). He won the Democratic presidential primary 50 years ago in 1972. In October, 10 years will have transpired since his passing. This 100/50/10 pattern makes the summer of 2022 an appropriate time to reflect upon McGovern’s life, legacy, and lesson.
Sadly, to many, George is little more than a big political loser. His defeat in the 1972 election would have been a heavy emotional load for anyone. Yet, he was resilient and bore the agony of defeat with dignity and humor. And yet, the depth of McGovern’s character is most evident in what he did post-defeat.