Barry Goldwater

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Meet the original scary Republican.

Barry Goldwater (Ba AuH2O) was an American considered the founder of the "modern" conservative movement in the United States, as well as the primary influence of the American libertarian movement. In a failed presidential bid, his groundbreaking victories (in fact, only victories) in the Solid South served as the forerunner to the Southern Strategy by Richard Nixon.

His hardline stances against the New Deal, the Soviet Union, the Great Society, labor unions, and the welfare state contributed to his landslide defeat by Lyndon Johnson, but his ideas eventually reached the White House when Ronald Reagan won the Presidency in 1980. Yeah, there's no sugarcoating anything – it's all this guy's fault.

Ironically, due to his views on abortion and gay rights, he was actually more liberal than today's conservatives; his fierce opposition to the mutual exploitation pact between the GOP and the Christian Right, and his spoken reasons for it (see below), were highly prescient.

[edit] Political career

Goldwater served as a US Senator from 1953-1965 and 1969-1987.

He ran for president in 1960 and 1964. The 1960 race was mainly an abortive "draft Goldwater" effort by some conservatives in the Republican Party, and Goldwater himself didn't seem too interested in campaigning. In 1964, however, Goldwater actively sought and won the Republican nomination, only to lose badly to Lyndon Johnson in the general election.[1] Many of his statements scared voters off during the campaign, including expressing a desire to end Social Security and the TVA, and hinting he would be open to using tactical nuclear weapons in Vietnam. His campaign slogan, "in your heart you know he's right" was spoofed as "in your guts you know he's nuts" and "in your heart you know he's right... far-right," and the Johnson campaign ran an ad featuring a little girl pulling petals off a daisy while a nuclear countdown commenced.[2] The ad never mentioned Goldwater but the implication was clear that electing Goldwater would risk starting World War III. Other ads were even less flattering.[3] However the 1964 race,was the first time a Republican candidate managed to break through the solidly-Democratic Deep South (primarily because of the Democrats' emerging support for the Civil Rights movement), and he won five Southern states plus his home state of Arizona. Richard Nixon took note of this and was inspired to develop his Southern strategy for the 1968 and 1972 elections. And unsurprisingly, Goldwater would be one of the last steadfast supporters of Tricky Dick during Watergate until the very last moment.

The current reactionary strain of American conservatism grew directly out of Goldwater's campaign, as did the early libertarian movement (the two were somewhat cross-pollinating during the 1960s, before openly splitting over the draft and the Vietnam War). Noted loon Phyllis Schlafly's 1964 book A Choice, Not An Echo was a best-seller during the Goldwater campaign and made her a well-known conservative activist, while Ronald Reagan emerged as a neoconservative icon during the campaign as well, and parlayed that into getting himself elected governor of California and later, president. On the other hand, both Reagan and Schlafly married religion to the Republican Party, and nowadays, religious lobbyists and political action committees continually influence Republican politicians. Today's conservatism has switched from a limited constitutional interpretation to politics that harken to an older era. Although Goldwater was very much distasteful of government programs and had a penchant for (at the very least) brinkmanship, it is safe to say that the current Republican Party has drifted far from his ideals on social policy.

[edit] Quotes

I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them.
Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.[4]
On religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.

I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in "A," "B," "C" and "D." Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?

And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism."
The oldest philosophy in the world is conservatism, and I go clear back to the first Greeks... When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.[5]
You don't have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.[6]
Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.[7]

[edit] Footnotes

  1. 1964 Presidential General Election Results
  2. 1964 Presidential campaign spots
  3. Like this one
  4. The Brethren's First Sister: Sandra Day O'Connor, Time
  5. "Barry Goldwater's Left Turn," Washington Post
  6. Goldberg, Robert Alan (1995). Barry Goldwater. p. 332.
  7. Said in November 1994, as quoted in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (2006)
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