George McGovern died yesterday. He was 90. While McGovern was the most liberal candidate ever to be nominated for President, he was a principled one, who actually believed what he said. His speech against the Vietnam War (this was back when Congress actually debated whether we would have wars or not) is as shocking 32 years later as it was then.
The interesting thing … and the reason I’m writing about him … is that McGovern, later in life, moved in a direction I would call “liberaltarian”. Nick Gillespie:
Having sunk most of his savings into the venture, it went belly up, he said, partly because of a bad economy but also due to “federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc.”
Lamenting his lack of business experience while he was a legislator and presidential contender, McGovern concluded that “ ‘one-size-fits-all’ rules for business ignored the reality of the marketplace.”
As he explained, “setting thresholds for regulatory guidelines at artificial levels — for example, 50 employees or more, $500,000 in sales — takes no account of other realities, such as profit margins, labor intensive vs. capital intensive businesses, and local market economics.”
In 2008, also in the Wall Street Journal, he attacked what he called “economic paternalism” from right-wing and left-wing politicians who were seeking to ban subprime loans and the pay- day lending business. Such laws don’t actually help people of limited means, he stressed, even as they reduce everyone’s ability to deal with their finances. He also took aim at “health-care paternalism” that made it impossible for consumers to shop across state lines for insurance and stuck them with unwanted or unaffordable gold-plated plans. “I’ve come to realize,” he wrote, “that protecting freedom of choice in our everyday lives is essential to maintaining a healthy civil society.”
As Radley Balko says, “libertarianism happens to people.” In the end, the most liberal Presidential candidate in history wound up to the right of half the crowd currently in Washington.
As I said, he was too liberal for me, even in the end. But you can contrast his principled liberalism to someone completely unprincipled, like say, Debbie Wasserman Schultz:
That Obama has a “kill list” has been known since January, 2010, and has been widely reported and discussed in every major American newspaper since April 2010. A major controversy over chronic White House leaks often featured complaints about this article (New York Times, 5 June 2012: “Senators to Open Inquiry Into ‘Kill List’ and Iran Security Leaks”). The Attorney General, Eric Holder, gave a major speech defending it.
But Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic Congresswoman from Florida and the Chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, does not know about any of this. She has never heard of any of it. She has managed to remain completely ignorant about the fact that President Obama has asserted and exercised the power to secretly place human beings, including US citizens, on his “kill list” and then order the CIA to extinguish their lives.
Just marvel at this stunning, completely inexcusable two-minute display of wholesale ignorance by this elected official and DNC chair. Here she is after the second presidential debate being asked by Luke Rudkowski of We Are Change about the “kill list” and whether Romney should be trusted with this power. She doesn’t defend the “kill list”. She doesn’t criticize it. She makes clear that she has never heard of it and then contemptuously treats Rudkowski like he is some sort of frivolous joke for thinking that it is real:
To be fair, I’d ignore Rudkowski too. He looks and sounds like a crank. If I hadn’t already blogged about the kill list, I would have thought he was a raging nutter. Moreover, I suspect DWS is not so much ignorant as she is an unthinking partisan hack who simply has no interest in criticism of her party. But I can’t imagine George McGovern having a kill list. Or pretending one didn’t exist.
So we have a Democratic Party that is frequently to the left of and far less principled than … George “Amnesty, Abortion and Acid” McGovern. What does that tell you about the state of politics?