22 October 2012

George McGovern: Leader against hunger and malnutrition

In a world where too few political leaders put themselves on the line for things that don't help them get elected, George McGovern will be surely missed.  The former Senator and Presidential candidate, 90, died over the weekend.

He was described as "disastrously attached to principle" by the Economist (he was trounced by a Watergate fuelled Nixon in the 72 Election) and as a "Prairie Liberal, Trounced but Never Silenced" by the New York Times.

I ran across his work early on in my career, when I was writing my Master's Thesis on Women Infant and Children Nutrition Centres in the poorer neighbourhoods of Massachusetts.  This is because Senator McGovern was a champion of nutrition--at home and abroad--when it was terribly unfashionable to be one, and he was a great advocate of political solutions to hunger.

 A World War Two bomber pilot, he was no pacifist, but was staunchly against the Vietnam war and proud of his stance.

It is hard to think of politicians of this age in the US or the UK who were as willing to stand up for things they believe in but which have little immediate political payoff.


Robert said...

I do agree with this statement. I met Senator Mc Govern in New York in early 72 when he was campaigning for president. That was before anybody had any idea Watergate was going to happen. The elephant was strong as ever and the donkey's campaign had a taste of "there's-no-way-we-are-going-to-make-it- but-let's-give-it-a-try-for-history". And we did post Mc Govern stickers on our bumpers and handed out leaflets at the NYU cafeteria and did generally as if decency and another way to play politics were possible. We were young. The news of his death, which made about as much media cover as an Oklahoma storm warning, made me sad.

Richard Jolly said...

And he played the key early role in setting up the World Food Programme. See John Shaw's book on the WFP - and John Shaw's biography on Hans Singer and Hans's role alongside.

Unknown said...

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