George McGovern’s name has long been synonymous with the kind of principled, doctrinaire and politically suicidal liberalism that Democrats from Bill Clinton to Barack Obama work to avoid.
But McGovern, 87, has reemerged in recent months on the other side of the political spectrum, as a prominent foe of a key piece of the progressive agenda: the labor-backed Employee Free Choice Act.
The liberal icon’s public break with the left has produced from his old allies anger, confusion and a failed campaign to persuade him to change his mind on the legislation, which would give workers the option of joining a union by signing cards rather than by voting in a secret ballot.
Instead, McGovern has stuck to his guns in an unlikely campaign that began in the pages of The Wall Street Journal, where he wrote that, for Democrats, abandoning the secret ballot would be “a betrayal of what we have always championed.”
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