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George McGovern: America’s Dove

Artist Peter Max designed this McGovern pin.

The consummate liberal died Sunday.

George McGovern, aged 90, is probably best remembered for his disastrous showing in the 1972 presidential election, losing to Richard Nixon 61 percent to 37 percent. That’s 520 electoral votes for Nixon and only 17 for McGovern.

But McGovern was a popular senator, and congressman before that. He was a World War II hero, as well. He later became the ultimate Vietnam War dove and based much of his 1972 presidential campaign on opposition to the war.

When I was a kid, I first began collecting political items during the 1972 election. I spent a day working at a Nixon headquarters and then a McGovern headquarters in order to get a few free campaign buttons.

McGovern items are still popular with collectors today. A couple of the favorites are a pin designed by famous artist Peter Max and a pin issued for a McGovern benefit concert starring Carole King, Barbra Streisand and James Taylor, who are all pictured on the button. Both of these pins have been known to sell for a couple hundred dollars.

Because of the popularity of psychedelic art in the 1960s and 1970s, some of the McGovern campaign buttons, posters and other items are quite colorful and the designs are “far out,” as they would have said in that era.


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