After leaving Congress, McGovern bought a Connecticut inn. He failed to make it work. He wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "In retrospect, I wish I had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business ... I also wish that during the years I was in public office, I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day." I tell that story when advocating for congressional term limits.
McGovern was proud of his Methodist roots. His father was a Wesleyan minister. He told me he remembered traveling evangelists coming to the family home and hearing George Beverly Shea, the deep-voiced singer for Billy Graham, play their piano and sing. In an interview for my 1999 book, "Blinded by Might: Why the Religious Right Can't Save America" he told me he was more of a "social gospel" man, though he said he still believed the central doctrines of the Christian faith.
In our interview, I asked him about the constant bickering between left and right. He replied, "It's the competition of ideas and the creative tension that moves our democratic society ... it's the fact that there's always that creative tension between the liberals here and the conservatives there, between the modernists here and the fundamentalists there, that I think makes all of them better."
I shall miss George McGovern as a friend, a fellow American, a patriot and an example. May he rest in peace.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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