The Great Non-Debate: When George McGovern and Jack Kemp Got Together To Make A TV Ad

McGovern:Kemp TV adWith the presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dominating headlines, let’s go back in time and take a look at a time when one of the most conservative presidential candidates of the past 50 years got together with one of the most liberal presidential candidates of the past 100 years to talk about the need to address an issue still plaguing America today.

The conservative was former Congressman Jack Kemp. The liberal was former US Senator George McGovern. They agreed on very little when it came to public policy, but that was before McGovern retired from politics and bought a country inn.

After McGovern retired and decided to run a business, he quickly learned how difficult it can be to keep up with government regulations and fend off personal injury lawyers who don’t like the way one operates. By 1992, he finally had enough and surprised his friends and foes alike by writing a column for the Wall Street Journal in which he explained all the problems he experienced. His inn eventually went bankrupt, and he blamed excessive government rules and regulations – the kind he supported in Congress – as big reasons for the failure.

He also blamed one other thing: frivolous lawsuits.  Even after the bankruptcy, he said “we are still dealing with litigation from individuals who fell in or near our restaurant.  Despite these injuries, not every misstep is the fault of someone else.  Not every incident should be viewed as a lawsuit instead of an unfortunate accident.  And while the business owner may prevail in the end, the endless exposure to frivolous claims and high legal fees is frightening.”

His friends in the trial bar were not happy with that column.  Nor were his former colleagues in Congress who relied heavily on political contributions from trial lawyers to finance their elections.  But McGovern wasn’t afraid to speak the truth, and job providers around the country rejoiced at having this unlikely ally speaking out on their behalf.

McGovern was so passionate about the harm done by excessive litigation that he also made a TV ad with Jack Kemp to urge Americans to join him in the fight against lawsuit abuse.  It’s one of my favorite political ads but was seen by relatively few Americans since it had a very limited run on the air. I obtained a copy when I became president of a Michigan-based legal reform group in the late 1990s and have posted it to YouTube here so you can see it, too.

George McGovern died shortly before before the last presidential election. Unfortunately, we’re still waiting for a political leader who is willing to tackle a problem that continues to plague everyone from inn owners and other job providers to non-profit community groups to this very day: lawsuit abuse.

Baby Strollers and Legal Reform

Coffee-CupCan a baby stroller that warns parents to “remove child before folding” help save America from drowning in a sea of frivolous lawsuits?

That’s what I wondered in 1997 when I created the Wacky Warning Label Contest and used that stroller warning to help raise public awareness about the litigation problem in America. It’s also what I’m wondering now as I start my first blog.

A blog about lawsuits that people without a law degree will enjoy reading…

The law is a confusing and often intimidating topic. I probably know that as well as anyone in America. Even though I’m not a lawyer, I have spent more than 20 years working with lawyers, debating lawyers on television and radio, and even evaluating the performance of lawyers who have become judges.

I’ve made it my life’s work to peel back the curtain shrouding the legal community in secrecy and mystery. Why? Because the more that non-lawyers know about America’s “whacked out” civil justice system, the more pressure will build on policymakers to put personal responsibility and common sense back to work.

So that’s why I talk about baby strollers.

Virtually everybody has used a stroller at some point in his or her life. If you haven’t pushed one, you were probably pushed IN one. And if you’ve ever seen the folding variety, you know that a child who has been placed in that stroller needs to be removed before the stroller is folded and put away. It’s common sense.

So why does a manufacturer of baby strollers sold in America feel it needs to warn its customers to remove their child before folding the stroller? It isn’t just because people sometimes fail to use common sense. It’s because more and more people who fail to use common sense and then cause an injury are deciding to call a lawyer so they can sue someone.

This is a problem you don’t need to be a lawyer to understand.

And it’s probably why virtually every television network in America, and many of the major networks around the world, have reported on the Wacky Warning Label Contest and used these labels to tell the story of our broken civil justice system.

It’s also why publications as diverse as the Wall Street Journal and the National Enquirer have reported on the Wacky Warning Label Contest and commented on what these labels say about our society.

So I will use this blog to continue telling a wide variety of stories that expose how the litigation explosion in our courts has changed life in American, piled costs on consumers and made a mockery of personal responsibility.

This blog will also offer my perspective on lawsuits and litigation-related issues that affect families, charities, communities, job providers and everyone who lives in this great jury pool known as the United States of America.

Hopefully, we’ll make some progress and there will come a day when we won’t need labels like the one we found on a four-inch long fishing lure that warns: “Harmful if swallowed!”

Thanks for checking in here today. I’ll try to make it worth your while to check back again.