Blog post courtesy of guest contributor, Tom Kludt.
I met George McGovern for the first time at the 2006 South Dakota Democratic Convention, where I was invited to sit next to the former senator and presidential candidate. A wide-eyed, recent high school graduate, I found the prospect of sitting next to the liberal lion–a personal hero of mine ever since I first opened a civics book—to be daunting, to say the least.
But I’ll never forget that introduction, when he flashed a disarming grin and leaned over to ask me where I was from. When I told him that I was a lifelong Huronian, he spoke glowingly of my stomping ground, a community that had been vexed by economic downturn and more than a few dubious episodes. “Huron looks good,” he said. “I think things are turning in its favor.” Before I knew it, we were both chatting effortlessly like a couple of old chums.
Sincerity just sounds different, and that conversation with Sen. McGovern definitely felt like he was paying me more than perfunctory lip service. Underlying his words was a genuine concern for the well-being of Huron and its residents, as well as in what I had to say. It was the type of earnest dialogue for which he is rightly revered, and to which today’s politicians ought to aspire. Our country would have been lucky to have him serve as president; South Dakota is lucky to call him our greatest statesman.