The Monday Morning Teaser

George McGovern is one of the ghosts haunting the 2016 campaign. To some Democrats, his 1972 wipeout loss means that we should never again nominate somebody who is “too liberal”, like, say, Bernie Sanders. To others, that was the wrong lesson to learn from McGovern, and besides, 1972 was so long ago that it might as well have been a different planet.

All the articles I’ve seen on this question seem partisan to me. If the author is against Bernie, the McGovern parallel is so strong we shouldn’t even be talking about Sanders. Conversely, if the author is for Bernie, there is nothing to be learned here: 1972 was destined to be a bad year for Democrats anyway, and McGovern had bad luck and ran a bad campaign. End of story. The landslide losses of Mondale in 1984 and Dukakis in 1988 similarly have nothing to tell us.

But (being just old enough to have clear memories of politics in 1972) the question has been bugging me personally. So I decided to look at it and see where it goes. I started without a conclusion in mind and went off on one of my long historic expeditions, back to the Great Society and then forward to the present. And having done the research, I still can’t tell you for certain what will happen if we nominate Bernie. But I’ve narrowed down my uncertainty considerably: I have a much clearer idea what exactly we’d be betting on.

The chronicle of that expedition is this week’s featured post, “Do We Still Have to Worry About the McGovern Problem?” It’s written already, but it’s long and still needs some editing, so I’m just guessing when it will post: maybe around 9 EDT.

The weekly summary will celebrate — or at least mark — Tax Day. I’ll reflect on how the North Carolina boycott affects one of my favorite bookstores. Some vaguely religious news stories give me several opportunities to quote Scripture mischievously. Confederate Heritage Month continues on the Orcinus blog. And I just discovered Princess Rap Battles. Let’s say that appears around 11.

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  • Dave Lance  On April 18, 2016 at 7:38 am

    Mischievous scripture quoting! Talk about a tease! Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center fame put himself on the map with the McGovern campaign. He knew how to write a solicitation letter that got results. So he wrote one for the McGovern campaign. It was seven pages long. Single spaced. The campaign told him they would not send it. That he had to edit it down. So he obtained the mailing list (and that possession of course has been the key to his success), and mailed his letter to that list at his personal expense. It became the most successful campaign fund solicitation mass mailing up to that time. He explained, some people are ready to write a check after one page, some after two, some after three…

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