The campaign of 1972 actually began more than a year ago when George McGovern announced his candidacy to a disinterested electorate which was not expected to pay him the least notice. At that nearly forgotten moment, all the political talk centered on Muskie's chances at unseating Nixon, and the Democratic party seemed to have found it's position again as the spokesman for slightly liberal America. But times have changed at an alarming pace: Nixon has reopened the war issues with bombs over Haiphong, and the slumbering American left, and right, have found their respective voices again. These voices were echoed in sotes for McGovern and for George Wallace, while Muskie has been found among the casualties of the primary battle. It is Wallace and McGovern who have found themselves at the forefront of American politics in 1972, for they speak for those who have found themselves ignored, for those who protest the road their country is travelling.
Yesterday's primary in Oregon has reaffirmed the predominant position of two men who have never been taken too very seriously in the past. George McGovern has risen into the seemingly untenable position of frontrunner, calling for shows of "massive support" in order to maintain it. George Wallace has become the most influential third force the campaign has seen, and his calls to "Send Them A Message" have found their echo in the votes of the many previously unrepresented who find him the only true choice offered in American politics. Both of these men combine a broad populist program with an earthy, honest approach, and the parallelism of their success can be traced to basic similarities. The effect of both on the politics of 1972 is difficult to predict; and now both find themselves watching from unaccustomed positions, one from a hospital bed, the other from the front-runner spot.