Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

National Elections and the Revolutionary Movement: George McGovern – Friend or Foe?

Published: Pamoja Venceremos, Volume 2, Issue 14, July 21-August 4, 1972. 
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The so-called Democratic Party has decided that George McGovern will face Richard Nixon in the up-coming presidential election. Working and poor people know that Nixon stands for more war, more repression, more injustice, more joblessness and more poverty. But the question is: will George McGovern be any different?

In the months ahead, the mass of American people will have to face the very real question: “Should I vote for McGovern?” More than likely, many of them will vote for him because he seems to represent a change away from war and away from their daily problems. There will be those people who will see mass support for McGovern as a set-back to the revolutionary movement in this country. This attitude toward the national elections will be wrong.

A concrete analysis of the situation shows that the election of McGovern would signal a victory for the international proletarian revolution and set the stage for a revolutionary advance in the United States.


McGovern promises that 90 days after his innauguration as president, the war in Vietnam will be ended, all the troops, planes and other military equipment will have been completely withdrawn. Every indication is that he will have to keep this promise.

The heroic struggle of the Vietnamese and other Indochinese peoples has meant a defeat for U.S. Imperialism and has lit a revolutionary spark in this country. Since the 1964 elections when Lyndon Johnson, promising peace in Southeast Asia, ran against Barry Goldwater, the Vietnamese struggle has overshadowed and determined every other issue. Johnson’s lies about ending the war, and the sickening cost of escalation during his administration gave rise to a popular and massive dump-LBJ movement. The same is now true for Nixon, who promised peace and showed himself to be as great a mass-murderer as Adolph Hitler. Again in 1972, the Vietnamese struggle, and the struggle for the self-determination of all oppressed nations is primary.

McGovern has based his candidacy on ending the war. He represents a section of the ruling class that fears a continuation of the war will only bring revolution home. This group recognizes that the liberation struggles of the enslaved Black, Chicano and Puerto Rican nations are maturing and that the spirit of rebellion is spreading to the Anglo-American (white) working class. Their plan for curbing the spread of revolution is to bring a quick end to the war and carry out some reforms here at home. The rise of revolution is so strong, and they feel so urgent about saving imperialism that they are willing to accept an outright defeat for U.S. imperialism in Indochina.

McGovern’s ruling class group will try and cover up the fact that U.S. imperialism was beaten to its knees and surrendered to the liberation forces of Indochina; liberation, forces led by Communist Parties and applying the strategy of peoples’ war. They will try to present the picture of the U.S. “giving peace” to the poor Vietnamese, but the exploited and oppressed peoples of the world will know that U.S. imperialism and its running dogs were defeated!

It is only fitting that a major candidate for president must run on a platform of unconditional surrender to the Indochinese people and “sweeping reform” for the American people. The revolutionary forces in Indochina have forced McGovern to run on a peace platform, and the rising tide of the liberation movements of Blacks, Chicanos and Puerto Ricans, in alliance with the rest of the working class, has forced him to call for reforms at home. It is not the “reasonableness” of the imperialists that has led to these positions, but the victory of the Indochinese peoples and oppressed and exploited American people which force the ruling class to search for new ways to rule.

Ending the war will not just bring peace and liberation to the Vietnamese, it will also add a spark to the world revolutionary movement. Since the liberation of China and the Korean war of resistance, the Vietnamese struggle has been in the forefront fighting U.S. Imperialism. A Vietnamese victory, especially one based on a U.S. surrender, will give great inspiration to other revolutionary forces around the world. Because of this victory, people’s forces will fight harder, new struggles will begin, and new defeats will be handed to U.S. imperialism.


Aside from the promise to bring a speedy end to the war, McGovern is making the same offers as others before him. He doesn’t promise to end exploitation and oppression, just to reform things a little. What he talks of reforming is the same old system which guarantees the making of profits and the exploitation of people. This is the same system of capitalism and imperialism that has brought death and destruction to oppressed people throughout the world. There are many people who believe that George McGovern can make substantial improvements in the lives of the American people by transforming the government (the state) into a servant of the people rather that a servant to “special interest groups.” Unless McGovern plans to disarm the armies and police and arm the people so that they can take back their institutions, such changes can never take place.

McGovern is a representative of a certain section of the ruling class, which as a whole has set up a state apparatus to defend and maintain its position. This ruling class is compos of corporate capitalists owning the factories, banks, financial institutions, communications and transportation. Not only do they control the lives of every worker, but they control and c press entire nations of people in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Black, Chicano and Puerto Rican nations within the U.S.

The purpose of the state apparatus is to maintain the capitalist system, which in this day and age, is an imperialist system. It enforces the rule of the imperialists over poor and working people by relying on armed bodies such as the army, police, courts and prisons.

McGovern won’t change all this – or any of this. He is just a representative of this ruling class and won’t have the power to change it. What he can do is run the state apparatus better or worse for the ruling class. Even his political program shows his class loyalties. He supports gun control which would be a major step in disarming the people; he supports a volunteer army which would be nothing more than a band of mercenaries; he promises to end the Vietnam war but also promises to support war against the Arab peoples on behalf of the Israeli Zionists. Any changes offered by McGovern are not for the people, but to save U.S. imperialism.


What McGovern’s program amounts to is little more than sugar coated counter-revolution. He and his backers understand that the people of the U.S., especially Third World people, will not continue to accept no jobs, poor housing, decaying schools lack of adequate health care, political repression and police terror. They also understand the need to devise new means of ruling other than the open repression of the Nixon administration. Some of McGovern’s top advisors were former Kennedy who helped develop neo-colonialism throughout Latin America an who began to implement these relationships between the ruling class and the Black, Chicano and Puerto Rican nations.

But whether in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the internal colonies of the U.S. or among the entire working class, the people have never ceased struggling for liberation, and no change in ruling techniques is good enough to stop the fight for a better life. What the McGovern campaign shows is that a revolutionary situation is developing in the United States and imperialism is being defeated throughout the world.

The McGovern plan is very similar to the New Deal of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR). Roosevelt tried to save U.S. imperialism from the 1930’s Depression by making jobs, setting up an elaborate system of welfare and unemployment work compensation insurance. All of this was forced on FDR by an angry people. But the New Deal didn’t really solve problems – it just temporarily papered over them. In the end it took a world war to keep U.S. capitalism from going under. If McGovern is elected his plans and deals will also fail.

McGovern is promising a lot of things like jobs, more housing, more welfare, etc. – but who is going to pay the bill? For a while the federal budget can be altered with less military spending, more for social programs, and corporations may even be asked to pay slightly higher taxes. Yet even this will only scratch the surface. In the end the people will bear the cost.

McGovern is just the latest installment in a series of important “liberal” politicians. The rule of all of them has led to new imperialist wars. Woodrow Wilson – World War I; FDR – World War II; Harry Truman – Korean War; John Kennedy/Lyndon Johnson – Vietnam. Each in turn was put in power by the ruling class to stop the people from rising up – to fool the people with temporary measures. And in turn, each forced the people to pay for the economic and social tricks by dragging the country into imperialist wars. However, McGovern can’t be another FDR. The forces in the world have changed since the 1930’s and the U.S. is no longer in the position to grab new territories to exploit – it can only defend a collapsing empire. This means that not even the plan to make war in the Middle East will work. There too, the forces of liberation will strike back and deprive the U.S. imperialists of land to plunder and slaves to exploit. Not even reforms comparable to FDR’s can satisfy the internal liberation movements of the U.S., which have expanded-and developed since the end of World War II. In the end, either McGovern or Nixon will be leading a ruling class war against the people of this country.


The nomination of McGovern not only signals the surrender of part of the U.S. imperialist ruling class to the Vietnamese people, it also shows that Mao Tse-Tung’s statement “Revolution is the main trend in the world today!” also applies to the United States. For in order to make counter-revolution, McGovern and his backers are trying to use a people’s movement.

Anyone who observed the Democratic Party Convention could not help but see that progressive and even revolutionary ideas were brought up front, discussed and struggled over before the mass of American people. These ideas have developed in the course of the Black and Chicano liberation struggles, in the movement to end the war, in factories, schools and unemployment lines. These are revolutionary ideas of the people. And McGovern understands he must use these ideas to get elected, then he can try to twist them around or put them away. But the word will already have been spread to more and more people.

Neither McGovern, nor anyone else, can use revolutionary ideas for counter-revolutionary purposes and get away with it. This election campaign has carried the message of liberation for the Black, Chicano and Puerto Rican peoples equality for women; an end to militarism and imperialist expansion; the rights of poor and working people to jobs, health, education and housing; and the protection of the people from fascist attacks in law, by the police, and in the courts and prisons. The ruling class backers of the Democratic Party didn’t want these ideas to get out, but they couldn’t be contained. People will be watching what happens, checking out what really changes and this will expose the lies and tricks of the imperialist ruling class whether represented by George McGovern or George Wallace.

No one should fear the election of McGovern. If he’s elected his sugar-coated counter-revolution must eventually fail, because he can never avoid more poverty, more ruling class terror and more imperialist war. Except the next time around it’s likely the people won’t be shouting for “McGovern,” “Kennedy,” or “Lindsay.” They’re likely to be shouting, “The only solution is socialist revolution!”