1972.10.01: Elections Same Old Story (Red Tide)

[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/]

Red Tide #6 (Vol. II, No. 2), October 1972
Elections Same Old Story
[By Michael Letwin]

In 1972, we’re in the midst of a presidential election. We hear about this election every day, on radio and in the papers. Millions of the American people, and thousands of hi school students from all sectors of American life have put their hopes and energy of the two major candidates running for president, George McGovern, or Richard Nixon.

Because of the great attention that the election has been given, let’s look at what these two politicians records and stands on the issues are.

In Nixon’s term of office he has instituted a freeze on the wages of the working people of this country, has held office during the murder of millions of Indochinese people, has forced thousands of strikers to go back to work, has had students shot in the streets, has continued the immense oppression of blacks, Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Asians, and Native Americans. Horrible, right?

On the other hand we have George McGovern. McGovern claims that he would make major changes in this society, that he is significantly different from Richard Nixon. Is he?

McGovern has voted for 11 war appropriations during the years 1967-69, even though he is supposedly the “peace” candidate. He has said that:

“While I am willing to cast a symbolic vote against military spending to indicate my opposition to the War, and to waste in military programs, I firmly believe that the United States needs an adequate national defense. I would not vote to undermine that defense”.

It is talk of “defense” that got us into Viet Nam in the first place. So while talking peace, McGovern supports many of the same kind of policies that Richard Nixon does. While there is gross poverty in this country and the world, McGovern talks about defense spending!

McGovern was not as “immediate withdrawal” from Viet Nam as he seems. In an interview with PLAYBOY magazine (August 1971) he said that if elected: “I would think that negotiations could begin within 30 days after I became president and once those negotiations were completed I see no reason why a full withdrawal couldn’t be executed in nest or eight months time. . . .”

McGovern’s limited opposition to the Viet Nam war was not based on the fact that the Vietnamese people should have the right of self­-determination, and that the U.S. has no rights to be the world’s policeman, but rather that this particular war is too costly. As McGovern explained in the New York Times Magazine on March 21, 1971: “To be opposed to our senseless support of a corrupt and unrepresentative regime in Saigon doesn’t mean that I see no essential American interests abroad.”

His view on Israel is not much different than that of Nixon’s: “The Middle East is more important than Viet Nam in terms of both our security and our traditions. . . The principal concerns for Israel are to make sure that its borders are defensible and that its right to exist is recognized by the Arab states. . . Israel is the one free state we have in the Middle East… I would be prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure its survival.” (PLAYBOY magazine, August 1971). This position flagrantly ignores the rights of the Palestinian people, two million of whom were driven from their homeland [and] made into refugees.

McGovern does not represent a new policy for  American colonialism. He, like Nixon, supports the exploitation of people all over the world in South America, the Middle East, and Africa.


Nixon has pitted himself against the black liberation movement in this country, in his four years.in office, what does McGovern think?

“The negro moderates who have counseled patience and legal redress would be swept aside by the radicals who preach hate and violence. We would then see the bible of Martin Luther King, and the long suffering patience of Roy Wilkins replaced by the dangerous direct action of Malcolm X and his kind. Race riots, night bombings, assassinations, would rage until blood flows in the streets.” (Congressional Record, June 4, 1964).

He also voted for the controversial 1968 amendment which made it a federal offense to travel in or use the facilities of interstate commerce to incite a riot. Several Black leaders, including H.Rap Brown, were subsequently framed up and charged under this law.

Some people say that you can’t look at a politicians past record to determine their views, but what else do we have?

McGovern has also implied that he if elected would give George Wallace a place in his cabinet, even if he could not be McGovern’s vice­-president (no doubt to help black people).


Another atrocity that Nixon has committed is his attack on working people, Such measures as the wage freeze and sending strikers back to work. What about McGovern? His supporters claim that he would make drastic: changes to stop the attacks on working people. But McGovern’s orientation is fundamentally pro-business. “I understand that the progress and success of the American economy depends primarily on creating conditions in which private business can function well”. (Christian Science Monitor, July 16, 1972).

McGovern and Nixon both claim that inflation has been caused by high wages, but lets look at the figures:

[Prices table omitted]

A total of over 28% in ten years! (U.S. government statistics, Monthly Labor Review.) Average weekly buying power from 1965 to today has only gone up from $102.41 to $102.78. The real reason for inflation is rising profits, the War, and huge defense spending.

[A] further example of McGovern’s attitude is reported in the Congressional Record of November 10, 1971: “A freeze on profits is totally inappropriate.” So who is McGovern interested in? One way to find out is to look at who the major supporters of the McGovern campaign are:

Ruth Handler, president of Mattel Toys
Charles Swibel, president of Marina Management Co.
Stuart Mott, GM heir, U.S. sugar heir
Jubal Patten, Housten oil millionaire
Robert Townsend, president of Avis, IT&T subsidiary
Henry Niles, president of Baltimore Life Insurance
James Kerr, president of AVCO, director of Republic steel, chairman of Carte Blanche, vice-president of Aerospace Industrial Assn.

This is only a partial list. As you might have noticed, IT&T is listed as one of McGovern’s major contributors. Remember a few months ago when IT&T’s slightly illegal connections with Nixon were exposed? It seems that IT&T has no more scruples about supporting supposedly opposite candidates than either of those candidates have about accepting their money.

McGovern voted to send the dock workers back to work after they had been striking in 1971, on the pretext that this was good for them and the economy. However let’s look at this quote from Ruth Handler, president of Mattel Toy, a major McGovern supporter: “Our special problem at Mattel toy was the West Coast Dock Strike, which before Christmas cut off shipments of toys and accessories made in our plants in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.” Is there any doubt about who he was really working for?


McGovern has devoted some attention to the issue of women’s rights. He has stated that if elected that he would be different than Nixon by appointing women to the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, and other high government offices.

However McGovern backs down on many of the key demands of the women’s liberation movement. He doesn’t, just like Nixon, support the right of women to control their own bodies, and have the right of legal abortion on demand. As he said in the New York Times on June 9, 1972: “I’m not going around preaching (abortion) as a major part of the McGovern campaign because I think its irrelevant”.

Is it irrelevant that thousands of women are butchered by back street abortionists each year because of strict anti-abortion laws? He also doesn’t support free 24 hour day care centers for children of working mothers.


In terms of gay people. McGovern stood against the gay rights plank at the Democratic Convention, and the representative of the McGovern campaign who McGovern delegated to speak related the gay rights movement to the specter of “child molestation”, “pandering”, and “prostitution”. Nixon, no doubt agrees completely with Senator McGovern, as he has enforced anti-gay rights legislation.


For years, thousands of hi school people have worked for politicians like Nixon and McGovern, licking stamps and ringing door bells day and night. But what have we received in return? Not one of these politicians has worked or spoke to the needs of hi school people. Every gain we have made in our schools has resulted from struggles involving thousands of hi school students, fighting administrations, school boards, and principals.


So we see that Nixon and McGovern both stand for the same basic system, and in terms of people’s basic oppression, it makes little difference who wins. Both very concretely stand for corporate profit before human needs.

The individual problems of America cannot be solved without going to the roots of those problems, our economic system. Although it was possible to give limited support to McGovern before the recent Viet Nam settlement in the hopes that he would end the War, and Nixon wouldn’t, we see that this is not the case.

We don’t believe that change can be brought about through the system, it never really has been. Every major change in American history has been brought about by mass movements, not kindhearted rulers or presidents.

The great “New Deal” that happened in the 1930’s, which reformed some of the more blatant injustices in society, was because of the immense threat of revolt. The government knew that if it didn’t take certain steps to reform that it might not exist too much longer. This was the case with Women’s Suffrage, the Civil Rights Movement and the Viet Nam War.

We don’t believe that elections can bring about fundamental change because we can’t vote out our whole social economic system, which is responsible for our problems. The system can be changed only by overthrowing the foundations upon which these kind of elections are held, and by replacing it with socialism, the democratic control of the worlds wealth by those who produce it.

1. Who Governs McGovern, Progressive Labor Party.
2. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About George McGovern, Young Socialist Alliance.
3. Congressional Record.
4. New York Times.
5. Playboy Magazine.
6. Christian Science Monitor.


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