they were the … of times

One Bright Shining MomentNo, I don’t know why I watch these political documentaries either. Sure, the recent ones are bearable in that, “it’s all a lost cause, but at least everyone knows it” kind of way. But some of these? They hurt. Tonight we watched One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern. Man, what a harsh trip. Sure, there are endless documentaries about the good guys (those who actually uphold the laws of the nation and work to benefit “the people”) losing out to the bad guys (those who see the government as nothing but a device to funnel tax money into their own pockets and have no regard for anything except furthering their own power through whatever lies, misrepresentation and law-breaking are needed), but this goes farther back then most, as it is the story of George McGovern and his presidential campaign of 1972.

From the looks of it, had he and his group been somewhat more professional and prepared, then we quite possibly could have avoided: the last couple of years of the Vietnam War, the divisive economic “redistribution” of Reaganomics, the terrible selling off of America to foreign powers to pay for unconstitutional wars (that only exist to keep the masses in fear and stuff the pockets of the white house and it’s associated war profiteers), both of the “gulf wars” and the thousands of American lives snuffed out in the pursuit of oil possession and getting a second American possession in the Middle East to back up Israel… The mind boggles at how many hundreds of thousand of lives (or millions if we had prevented the dirty deeds of Kissinger) could have been saved and how many hundreds of billions (if not trillions) of American dollars could have gone to secure the people, industry and economy of the United States, rather than get laundered through the Department of Defense into the pockets of corporate interests. So much was at stake, and the good guys lost. I find it humiliating that in seven of the ten Presidential elections of my lifetime, the “average voter” has failed to even try to see through the spin and has been hornswoggled into voting against themselves to put a Republican into the White House. Maybe that would have changed with a McGovern victory, but then, maybe not.

 

George McGovern

 

McGovern tried hard, he meant well and he was fighting on the behalf of honesty, the people and doing the right thing. But a lot of people aren’t really interested in stuff like that. As Dick Gregory said, “once you’ve been in the dark for so long, the light hurts your eyes”. The title of this movie really sums up the feeling that you get watching it. I may be overly optimistic in saying that the despair, alienation, greed, dishonesty and general poverty of the 1970’s and 1980’s might have all been avoided had the McGovern group (and I don’t say the Democratic party, because you don’t get the feeling that the party wanted McGovern anyway) spent more time on thinking about how to win the election, rather than just win the nomination, but that is the feeling that I came away from this with. Of course, one might argue that they fell victim to Republican dishonesty, like the Democrat’s of 1968, 1980, 2000 and 2004, so it didn’t matter what they did anyway. But I don’t know.

 

Nixon, Kissinger and Rumsfeld

Well, sure, Dickie and Kissmyassinger, but who’s that behind them?

 

 

Nixon, Kissinger and Rumsfeld

Oh, him? I guess he learned from the best.

 

In One Bright Shining Moment we trace McGovern from his younger days growing up during the depression through his days as a bomber pilot in WW2, his brief stint as a minister, his time in the Kennedy white house (where he served as director of the Food for Peace Program), his time in the senate and his staunch and continual (well, except for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution) opposition to the Vietnam war and then forward to the great ups and downs of the debacle of the 1968 convention, Kent State, the seeming (yet fleeting) greatness of the 1972 convention, the missteps that followed it and his resounding defeat at the hands of Nixon. I do find it somewhat surprising, considering that I was five at the time of the 1972 election, that until this evening I knew nothing about George McGovern except for his name.

Told through lots of footage from the time and plentiful interviews with McGovern himself, Gore Vidal, Howard Zinn, Gloria Steinem and the wonderful Dick Gregory, who has the best, most profound and boldest statements to make of all of them. This film is another re-eye-opener to how American politics really works, to the general corruption of our two-party system, a re-introduction to the pervasive power of greed and a testament to the self-induced ignorance of the average person. Though it was a bright and shining moment, it certainly wasn’t the light at the end of the tunnel. On the bright side, the grass-roots upheaval that lead to his nomination, four years later led to the election of the best president of modern times, Jimmy Carter. Unfortunately, Carter turned out to actually be too good and honest a person to be an American President… And with help from the Republicans once again (can’t they just win an election honestly?), this time conspiring with the Ayatollah Khomeini to keep our citizens hostage extra long to hurt Carter’s chances (strangely similar to Kissinger’s tactics of killing the Vietnam peace process to hurt the Democrat’s presidential hopes in 1968, a mere dozen years before), the Democrat’s were out for the next 12 years… And the office of the President would never be the same.


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