Remember in my last post when I wrote about commonalities between Baby Boomers and Millennials? Here is one that explains that very concept. I voted for the first time at 20-years-old in 1972, which was the first election since the ratification of Amendment 26, giving 18-year-old citizens the right to vote. “Old enough to die; old enough to vote.” I was so excited as I stood in line to vote for a man who shared my disgust with the war in Vietnam, Senator George McGovern. He energized Baby Boomers who were already marching against the Vietnam war and dying there as well. Unfortunately, he lost that election by a landslide to a criminal named Richard Nixon who resigned from office in disgrace two years later. He never ran again but he had planted those seeds of hope, worked hard, and not only held on to his belief that war is never the answer, but also rid future generations and a nation of the military draft.
I went home one weekend in April 1973, and when I awoke the news explained that the military draft had ended. No more men would be forced to fight and die in a war they didn’t believe was necessary or beneficial. I cried for hours. It was bittersweet, and way too late for many of my friends. Walking across campus in 1971 I stopped to talk to a friend who told me that he had gotten his draft notice and was to report the next day for his physical. Sickened, I sat down and listened as he told me he was going to take a bunch of drugs so that his urine came up negative and that would keep him from dying in Vietnam. He started crying and said, “I won’t survive that nightmare.” I held on to him, tightly. He didn’t survive the nightmare of a military physical either. He overdosed on a cocktail of drugs and was declared brain dead. More tears flowed for my friend, a victim of that win-less war.
So you see, we share the common distraught of seeing our political heroes fighting for us and losing to similar corrupt, contemptuous, condescending candidates who littered our ballot boxes last November. We know exactly how the pain of losing a most endearing candidate to yet another corrupt liar soon to be in the White House, feels. Please let’s not give up, or stop fighting, read on and see that if we work together we have the power to make a difference.
The war ended in 1975 in chaos. We graduated from college and had to do something totally against our will: find jobs, follow the status quo, and kiss the ass of the establishment. We totally dropped the ball on moving our progressive agenda forward. Baby Boomers never again organized to fight against unjust government policies. It is time we reorganize and work with Millennials to stop injustice across a broad spectrum of issues.
Here is a comparison of our candidate, George McGovern who lost to Richard Nixon in 1972, to Bernie Sanders:
|George McGovern Presidential Candidate 1972||Bernie Sanders Presidential Candidate 2016|
|Born in 1922 Avon, South Dakota||Born in 1941, Brooklyn, New York City, New York|
|Decorated WWII pilot, flew 35 missions and received the Distinguished Flying Cross||Civil Rights activist; member of the Congress of Racial Equality, CORE; protested segregation of housing in 1962; Helped organize Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; joined the March on Washington in 1963.|
|Northwestern University Ph.D. in History||University of Chicago (1964) degree in Political Science|
|House of Representative 1956-1962||Vermont House of Representatives-1991-2007|
|U.S. Senator 1962-1981||U.S. Senate 2007-present|
|Campaigned through grassroots supports||Campaigned through grassroots supports|
|End the War in Vietnam and bring our troops home in exchange for American Prisoners of War. Advocated to stop the secret bombing put forth by Nixon in Cambodia||War should never be the answer; peaceful negotiations work best and are more sustainable|
|Increasing the minimum wage, guaranteed minimum income per year to families based on need.||Increasing the minimum wage to a living wage.|
|Racial Equality||Racial Justice|
|Supported the Equal Rights Amendment for Women||Supports the Equal Pay Bill for Women in the workforce. And Women’s rights|
|Improve economic conditions||Create jobs that would increase the Middle Class|
|37% reduction in Defense spending||Increase the quality of care for our Veterans|
|Ending the military draft||Free College tuition for all|
|Amnesty for Draft Dodgers||Combat climate change to save our Earth|
|Fighting for LGBTQ rights|
|Health Care for every American|
|Expand and Strengthen Social Security|
|Lower Prescription drug prices|
|Empowering Tribal Nations|
|Get corporate money out of politics|
|Fight corruption in corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy, and making them pay their fair share in taxes.|
|Stop America’s oligarchy|
|Stop the economic and political power of the 1%|
|A Fair and Humane immigration policy that doesn’t rip families apart|
|Fighting for Disability Rights|
|Make General Electric pay to restore the Hudson River|
|Defeat the Constitution Pipeline|
|Financial support to historically Black colleges|
|Improving the rural economy|
|Fighting for nurses and teachers|
|Reforming Wall Street|
Quotations from George McGovern:
“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.”
“The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of one’s country deep enough to call her to a higher plain.”
Quotations from Bernie Sanders:
“Can these guys talk about anything other than their desire to go to war?”
“We need to raise public consciousness, we need the American people to know what’s going on in Washington. . .”
“Finally, let’s understand that when we stand together, we will always win. When men and women stand together for justice, we win. When black, white and Hispanic people stand together for justice, we win.”
What have I learned from this blog and its timeline?
- The issues in 1972 were less numerous but no less important
- Both McGovern and Sanders were putting human beings first
- Both candidates believed in progress that included ending wars, making peace through negotiations, and creating jobs to grow the middle class
- Both candidates knew that if America doesn’t have a strong middle class our democracy will fail
- Both candidates held equal rights for everyone in high esteem
- Both candidates fought for the weak and powerless in America
- Both candidates worked to legislate laws that they knew would improve the quality of life in America
- Even though the Baby Boomers lessened their activism both candidates continued legislating their strong held ideals.
- Both McGovern and Sanders entered a field of corrupt candidates and lost
- Why are Americans so taken in by corrupt candidates? Is it a “bad boy” boyfriend kind of sickness?
- I also learned that with this commonality we can commiserate together or wake-up and take a stand for all the issues laid out by Senator Sanders, run for office in 2016. Change the complexion at the local, state, and national level to reflect that we are serious and through our sheer numbers we will create and America that honors all the people who live here.
Now, please, tell me what you have learned and how you propose that Baby Boomers and Millennials start working together.