Category Archive 'Barry Goldwater'

23 Dec 2007

Goldwater in ’08!

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William Murchison has identified the candidate Republicans should be supporting in ’08, and always.

I’ve just now figured it out — the right conservative candidate for these confused and disturbing times. I’m voting for Barry Goldwater, and nothing can stop me. Save — I admit — the inconvenience of Barry’s residence in a venue other than the land of the living.

Still, I want to suggest to perplexed conservatives sorting through the credentials of Romney-Huckabee-Giuliani-Thompson-Paul-McCain that no one matches in substance and appeal the man who, in our hearts, we knew to be right: Barry himself. I want to suggest this not by way of whomping up some sentimental pilgrimage back to ye olden tyme. I suggest Barry as a model for the principled conservatism so many seem to seek vainly and despondently. Those Republicans, for instance, who can’t figure out what the Republican message is or should be.

“The Republican Party,” asserts Rich Lowry of National Review, “has run out of intellectual steam and good ideas.” That’s a preposterous state of affairs. Good ideas, as opposed to useful legislative enactments, never decline in potency.

Our guy Barry knew as much. Our guy — whom Lyndon Johnson imagined he had disposed of in ’64, only to find Barry’s ideas taking up more and more space in politics — knew clearly enough what he was about. Freedom was what he was about — “the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order.”

Read the whole thing.

05 Oct 2007

Current GOP’s Conservatism “Non-Burkean?”

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David Brooks grazes meditatively beneath the New York Times’ luxuriant English oaks.

Modern conservatism begins with Edmund Burke. What Burke articulated was not an ideology or a creed, but a disposition, a reverence for tradition, a suspicion of radical change.

When conservatism came to America, it became creedal. Free market conservatives built a creed around freedom and capitalism. Religious conservatives built a creed around their conception of a transcendent order. Neoconservatives and others built a creed around the words of Lincoln and the founders.

Over the years, the voice of Burke has been submerged beneath the clamoring creeds. In fact, over the past few decades the conservative ideologies have been magnified, while the temperamental conservatism of Burke has been abandoned.

Over the past six years, the Republican Party has championed the spread of democracy in the Middle East. But the temperamental conservative is suspicious of rapid reform, believing that efforts to quickly transform anything will have, as Burke wrote “pleasing commencements” but “lamentable conclusions.” …

To put it bluntly, over the past several years, the G.O.P. has made ideological choices that offend conservatism’s Burkean roots. This may seem like an airy-fairy thing that does nothing more than provoke a few dissenting columns from William F. Buckley, George F. Will and Andrew Sullivan. But suburban, Midwestern and many business voters are dispositional conservatives more than creedal conservatives. They care about order, prudence and balanced budgets more than transformational leadership and perpetual tax cuts. It is among these groups that G.O.P. support is collapsing.

American conservatism will never be just dispositional conservatism. America is a creedal nation. But American conservatism is only successful when it’s in tension — when the ambition of its creeds is retrained by the caution of its Burkean roots.

There is something, doubtless, about a New York Times editorial position, possibly the prestigious title or perhaps the unlimited expense account, which is liable to make any man into a Burkean defender of the status quo.

Mr. Brooks is, however, clearly confusing American with British conservatism, when he describes it in these emolient and unthreatening Burkean terms. But the American case is very different.

The roots of American conservatism lie in the American Revolution against Royal authority and established traditions of governmental supremacy. And the pedigree of modern American conservatism goes back to the movement which took over the GOP led by Barry Goldwater and his supporters.

Barry Goldwater was correctly perceived as a radical opponent of the New Deal’s established order of Welfarism, mixed economy socialism, Big Government and tolerance of International Communism, the champion of a collection of American principles and ideals, which (however originalist) were so utterly alien to the prevailing Establishment consensus as to seem revolutionary.

Mr. Brooks needs to remember that the father of the modern conservative Republican Party is the man who said “Extremism in defense of Liberty is no vice.”

23 Sep 2006

Mr. Conservative

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Barry Goldwater

HBO is currently broadcasting a documentary movie, titled Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater. The film is a nostalgic tribute to the late Senator Barry Goldwater, produced by his granddaughter, CC Goldwater, who was five years old when he ran for president in 1964.

I recorded it a week ago, and finally managed to sit down and watch it last night. I was a high school sophomore and a passionate Goldwater supporter back then, and the memories of Barry’s triumphant nomination by the Republican Convention, and of our defeat in the election after a vile and scurrilous campaign are still vivid for me. Barry Goldwater was a standard-bearer to be proud of, and merely looking upon his features again and hearing his voice makes me smile.

One finds, viewing his granddaughter’s film, that even some of Barry’s old-time enemies, with the perspective of time, have come to respect and appreciate him better. There were a number of interesting observations, and I made a point of writing several of them down.

Al Franken:

There were people who said: if you vote for Goldwater, the Vietnam War will escalate, and we’ll have 450,000 American troops over there. And a friend of mine voted for Goldwater, and that’s exactly what happened.

Robert MacNeil:

I did not think, at the time, privately, that Goldwater would make a good president. But, in a year or two afterwards, as the Lyndon Johnson White House became paralysed by self-deception over Vietnam, I wondered whether we, and the country, had undervalued Goldwater’s integrity, and whether it might not have served the country better.

John McCain:

I’d love to be remembered as a Goldwater Republican. But I don’t pretend in any way to live up to the legacy of the man who literally changed the face of politics in America.

George Will aptly summed it all up.

People say Goldwater lost in 1964. Some of us think Goldwater won. It just took sixteen years to count the votes. In 1980, we finally got the results, and Conservatism had won.

Watch for it on your local schedule.

01 Jan 2006

Barry Goldwater’s Legacy

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Barry Goldwater

Lee Edwards reflects on the enormous ultimate impact of Barry Goldwater’s unsuccessful 1964 campaign for the presidency.

Goldwater received less than 39 percent of the popular vote and carried only six states totaling 52 electoral votes in his 1964 campaign for the presidency. Most political observers of the day agreed with James B. Reston of the New York Times that Goldwater “not only lost the presidential election … but the conservative cause as well.”

Because of Barry Goldwater, the Republican Party became the Conservative Party and then the majority party in America. Today, Republicans control the White House, the Congress, more than half of the governorships, and approximately half of the state legislators. “Today practically all Republican candidates proclaim their conservatism, and almost all conservative leaders vow their allegiance to the Republican Party. It has been a remarkably fruitful union.

The union was made possible by the impact of the Goldwater candidacy on the five essential elements of politics–money, organization, candidates, issues, and the media.


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