A re-writing of history has been going on concerning Barry Goldwater. The idea is that America was a socially liberal, "tolerant" place until the Religious Right arose back around 1980 or so. Up until that time, even conservatives were "tolerant" of homosexuality, abortion, pornography, secularism, etc.
In fact, Goldwater did not adopt the pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-religious right agenda until the last few years of his life. In his old age, he married a leftist woman who was a Planned Parenthood activist. Until then, he had a 100% pro-life voting record, never once mentioned supporting gay "rights" or anything of that kind, voted for school prayer (and, yes, he did support an amendment to the Constitution), and never had a bad thing to say about conservative Christians.
Psychologically, I can't explain Goldwater's change of heart. Maybe he was growing senile. Maybe he liked the attention of a younger woman and changed his outlook to please her. Who knows? But once he changed, the media, which had hated him his entire career, began lauding him as the voice of "true conservatism", by which they meant social liberalism. Since that time, efforts have been made to apply Goldwater's late-in-life conversion retroactively. It's being implied that Goldwater was a Christian-bashing supporter of abortion and gay "rights" from the beginning of his career, and that "true conservatism" embraces those things. Why, up until the rise of the Religious Right circa 1980, everyone universally accepted the idea that Christians should sit down and shut up, that abortion should be available on demand, that gays should have special laws protecting them and should be allowed to "marry", that prayers at graduations are unthinkable, and so on. Of course, such assertions are nonsense.
Goldwater may indeed have procured an illegal abortion for a family member in the 1950s. It's not something to be proud of, for sure. But it didn't affect his later politics. He appears to have regarded the incident as a tragic mistake, because he certainly didn't vote pro-abortion until the late 1980s. Nor did he ever say anything positive about legal abortion. In his 1980 re-election campaign for the Senate, he used his pro-life stance successfully against a well-financed Democrat opponent. Was he being hypocritical? Perhaps. We can never really know. But the so-called "Goldwater conservatism" trumpeted by the liberal media (and often here at FR by libertarians) didn't exist until very late in Goldwater's life. Nothing in his voting, speech, or campaign record until then would have been any different from what Jerry Falwell would have delivered.
In 1976, Goldwater not only threw his support to pro-abortion Gerald Ford but actually did media ads suggesting that Republicans would not want Reagan's finger near the nuclear button in a remarkable parody of LBJ's "Little Girl with a Daisy" ads on the same theme against Goldwater in 1964. Ayn Rand also was apoplectic over Reagan and pleaded with readers of her Ayn Rand Letter to vote for Ford to save abortion.
Goldwater was facing defeat at the hands of a pro-life Democrat businessman in 1980 as the nation prepared to elect Reagan by a national landslide and to decapitate the radical ten leftist leaders of Senate Demonrats (McGovern, Church, Gaylord Nelson, et al.). He went to Arizona pro-life leaders on the Friday before the election and "surrendered" promising to vote pro-life from that point forward and not to run for re-election in 1986. Foolishly, they believed Goldwater, figured a senior and converted Goldwater would be more effective than a freshman pro-life Democrat, and moved enough of their vote to Goldwater for him to make up a 5% deficit reported in polls and squeak through.
Faced with the first pro-life voting opportunity of the new term, Goldwater voted pro-abortion. Questioned as to why "Mr. Integrity" violated his pledge to the pro-lifers wh re-elected him, he said that he imagined his late wife Peggy standing there and could not vote against her wishes and that the pro-lifers could not do anything about it anyway. He spent the rest of his Senate career as the social libertine he had always been.
After leaving office, he bragged about personally taking his daughter for an abortion and expressed his contempt for anyone who disagreed with that action. His son Barry, Jr., lost a California Senate race while under fire over his alleged personal preferences. Barry the Elder had a grandson who was an open homosexual activist and whom Barry the Elder publicly and noisily supported.
My ancestry was Democrat on both sides. I became a Republican because of Barry Goldwater in 1963-64 but he was not vocal in his support of abortion at that time. I can say that, influenced by Barry the Elder to become a Republican, I got to be a state chairman of Reagan's challenge to Goldwater-backed Gerry Ford. By that time, I would not have supported Goldwater for dogcatcher because of his social libertinism.
In the last analysis, Barry Morris Goldwater enthusiastically revealed himself to be a rank liar, a man devoid of integrity, an enthusiast for babykilling and an enthusiast for the "rights" of those practicing the "love that dare not speak its name" in saner times and now will not shut up. If history is being re-written, the re-writing is by those who claim that Goldwater was a late convert to social issue revolutionary status. He believed in baby-killing all along.
"In his old age, he married a leftist woman who was a Planned Parenthood activist."
She may have been involved with Planned Parenthood, but so was his first wife, Peggy, whom he married in 1934.