In a 1997 New York Times op-ed article, he emphasized that simply because some people abuse freedom of choice is no reason to reduce it. “Despite the death of my daughter,” he argued, “I still appreciate the differences between use and abuse.” He rightly worried that lifestyle freedom, like economic freedom, was everywhere under attack: “New attempts to regulate behavior are coming from both the right and the left, depending only on the cause. But there are those of us who don’t want the tyranny of the majority (or the outspoken minority) to stop us from leading our lives in ways that have little impact on others.”George McGovern may have been wrong on some things, not so wrong on others. RIP.
McGovern believed that attempts to impose single-value standards were profoundly un-American and “that we cannot allow the micromanaging of each other’s lives.” But as governments at various levels expand their control of everything from health- care to mortgages to the consumption of soda pop and so much more, that’s exactly what’s happening.
In 1972, McGovern was out of step with the American public. Not anymore. Large majorities see the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as the mistakes and failures they plainly were. And his criticism of paternalism is wildly popular with everyone but our rulers. An August 2012 CNN/ORC International Poll found that only 40 percent of registered voters want the government to “promote traditional values,” a finding that is down from 57 percent in 2008. CNN also found that “six in 10 say that government is doing too much that should be left to businesses and individuals.”
These days, it’s politicians of both parties who are out of step with the voting public. As the nation prepares to pay its last respects to George McGovern, we can only hope that our leaders will learn from his example and become less confident in telling us how to live our lives.
Sunday, October 21, 2012
The Last Campaign
George McGovern, who was defeated by Richard Nixon in a landslide forty years ago, has died. From Nick Gillespie, a libertarian appreciation: