Goldwater in ‘08!

William Murchison's picture

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.”

That’s from p. 13 of “The Conscience of a Conservative,” which was the Goldwater movement’s philosophical charter. Barry didn’t write the book himself. He did something better: He thought it through.

He concluded that the challenge for conservatives was “to preserve and extend freedom.” He wanted not to expand government but to shrink it. He yearned to hear a presidential candidate say, “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. ... My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden.”

Wow! So even young Hillary Rodham must have exclaimed while working as a Goldwater Girl in the ‘64 campaign — the best thing Mrs. C. ever did, unless she should do a better one by renouncing politics.

How were we going to maximize freedom, Goldwater-style? For one thing, we were going to “make war on all monopolies whether corporate or union.” We were going to reduce taxes and spending and wise up the citizen-taxpayer who may have “lost confidence in his claim to his money.”

Instead of throwing money at education, we were going to “raise standards” and brand “federal intervention in education” as unconstitutional. We were going to maintain not only our military strength but also our resolve to use that strength as the occasion demanded, given that we were “in clear and imminent danger of being overwhelmed by alien forces.” (A multi-purpose depiction, that “alien forces” business, even in the post-Soviet era.)

The modern conservative can blow a little dust off “The Conscience of a Conservative” — e.g., the federal government now effectively rules and runs the public schools — while discerning the book’s golden thread, which is ordered freedom. Who’s ever had a better idea? Not even Ronald Reagan (who made his political mark in a nationally televised speech vainly boosting the Goldwater ticket).

The Goldwater program, shouted down in ‘64, isn’t the point. The point is the ideas behind the program, starting with the notion — which Jefferson and Madison would have endorsed — that government is the means to particular ends, not the end-in-itself, as too many modern presidential candidates seem to imagine.

The straight-on quest for freedom – why wouldn’t that resonate far more powerfully than some laundry list of promises and proposals aimed at General Uplift? And what’s stopping the present generation of would-be conservative champions from bearing down on that essential point? Don’t they care? Because if they do, you can’t necessarily tell from watching.

login to post comments | William Murchison's blog

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Main Stream's picture
Submitted by Main Stream on Thu, 12/20/2007 - 9:11pm.

plus, Hillary campaigned for Goldwater in '64.

I met Goldwater's daughter, C.C., when I was in NY (1994), and we talked about her grandfather, Barry. She made a documentary about him, seen on HBO in 2006. Seems Barry was pro-choice and thought gays should be able to serve in the military. I wonder if Bill Murchison knows this?

Goldwater Was Pro-choice

bad_ptc's picture
Submitted by bad_ptc on Thu, 12/20/2007 - 9:58pm.

Main Stream, you're not going to make many friends on this blog if you aren't against "Pro-Choice".

I seem to be in the minority here when I say that politics should stick to the issues of the economy, national safety/defense, elimination of entitlement programs and the general wellbeing of REAL United States citizens.

People seem to forget that this great nation has been doing just fine without the morality of the religious right in the mix.

I find it strange that the U.S. and other countries are sacrificing 1,000's of brave young men and woman to fight a war against foreign religious fanatics when we have more than enough religious fanatics right here at home.

We're supposed to have something, as per the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, known as the "separation of church and state" in this country. Yet why is it that just about all I've read about the current gaggle of candidates running for elected office is some sort of justification of their religious and moral beliefs?

I strongly encourage all people to have firm religious convections and a strong sense of morality, just as long as they keep it to themselves.

If you want a religious and/or moral leader, go to church.

If you want a president to lead this great nation, go and vote.

If you want a president who is also your religious and/or moral leader go see our credit manager, Helen Wait.

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Thu, 12/20/2007 - 9:44pm.

He sided with the Republicans but he was no doubt an Independent. I believe that he was responsible for a conservative tide in California - one that got Ronald Regan elected as Governor in 1966. Barry Goldwater is an interesting study.
Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.