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.
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.
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.
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.