Barry “Nostradamus” Goldwater

February 5, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Historical | Leave a comment
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Senator Barry Goldwater, 1962 September 25. (Library of Congress)


“What I was talking about was more or less ‘conservative,’ ” Goldwater recalls, saying he was smeared by the people around President Johnson – “the most dishonest man we ever had in the presidency.” Goldwater continues: “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.”

Goldwater stood against Nelson Rockefeller for the Republican presidential nomination in 1964, repudiating the party’s older, moderate reputation and staking out a distinctive conservative position. He lost to Lyndon B Johnson, and was painted as a right-wing fanatic. “Extremism in defence of liberty is no vice!,” he told Republicans.


Goldwater had no time for many of those who followed him in the Republican party, excoriating George Bush, Newt Gingrich, Jesse Helms and Ronald Reagan. But he was always a demonic figure for the left of his party and the Democrats, who regarded him as a warmonger. The slogan of Goldwater’s supporters was: “In your hearts you know he’s right.” His opponents countered: “In your guts, you know he’s nuts.”

Ku Klux Klan members supporting Barry Goldwater's campaign for the presidential nomination at the Republican National Convention, San Francisco, California, as an African American man pushes signs back. 1964 July 12. (Library of Congress)


In a Sept. 15, 1981 senate speech, Goldwater noted that Falwell’s Moral Majority, anti-abortion groups and other Religious Right outfits were sometimes referred to in the press as the “New Right” and the “New Conservatism.” Responded Goldwater, “Well, I’ve spent quite a number of years carrying the flag of the ‘Old Conservatism.’ And I can say with conviction that the religious issues of these groups have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics. The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength.” Insisted Goldwater, “Being a conservative in America traditionally has meant that one holds a deep, abiding respect for the Constitution. We conservatives believe sincerely in the integrity of the Constitution. We treasure the freedoms that document protects. . . “By maintaining the separation of church and state,” he explained, “the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars . . . Can any of us refute the wisdom of Madison and the other framers? Can anyone look at the carnage in Iran, the bloodshed in Northem Ireland, or the bombs bursting in Lebanon and yet question the dangers of injecting religious issues into the affairs of state?”

Goldwater concluded with a warning to the American people. “The religious factions will go on imposing their will on others,” { he said,} “unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives. . . We have succeeded for 205 years in keeping the affairs of state separate from the uncompromising idealism of religious groups and we mustn’t stop now” { he insisted}. “To retreat from that separation would violate the principles of conservatism and the values upon which the framers built this democratic republic.”


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