Skip to comments.Conscience of a Majority (Lessons from Barry Goldwater on renewing the energy of the GOP)
Posted on 11/25/2012 9:34:51 AM PST by VitacoreVision
Conscience of a Majority
- Barry Goldwater, 1971
While liberal columnists and commentators were busily reciting the death rites for the GOP and lamenting the possible end of a two-party system in the United States, interested political investigators began to notice that historic and significant changes had been wrought in the Republican Party as a result of my candidacy.
These observers took a hard look at the GOP, past and present. They saw that after decades of winning prior to 1930, and years of losing after 1930, the Republican Party had simply dried up at the roots. They found that the foundation of the party in the Eastern, Midwestern and Plains states had disappeared entirely in some areas and had eroded badly in many others.
But they also discovered that the Goldwater cause had brought tens of thousands of new people into our party throughout the nation and provided the GOP with a badly needed transfusion of new blood at the grass roots.
Perhaps the most important thing about this transfusion was that it came from young and energetic people and from segments of the population which, heretofore, had not been noted for their contribution to the nation's political organization. Although these new troops were not at first successful, their vigor and enthusiasm strengthened the sinews of the Republican Party and completely revitalized the party's structure throughout the country. These new recruits stuck with it because they were motivated by ideas as well as ideals. They worked their way up in the party organizations; they became Republican leaders and candidates; they became precinct leaders, county chairmen and state officers. And by 1966, they were giving our party great national victories that had a vital bearing on our ability to win the White House in 1968.
Those who bemoaned the so-called 'Goldwater disaster' in 1964 overlooked the fact that my defeat had another side to it. To be specific, my campaign broadened the base of the Republican Party nationally in a way that had never happened before. Where Republican presidential candidates before me had numbered their financial campaign contributors in the tens of thousands, my campaign counted them in hundreds of thousands. When Richard Nixon ran for reelection in 1960, financial contributions to his campaign ran between 40,000 and 50,000. The best count ever made of the individual contributions to my campaign four years later put the total at around 661,500.
In addition, our party had organizations and the nuclei of organizations in hundreds of areas where they had never existed before. This was not only true in the South, where the phenomenon was spectacular, but also proved to be the case in many large metropolitan areas which had long been almost the sole preserve of the political liberals.
- Barry Goldwater in "Conscience of a Majority", 1971
Before They Hated Ron Paul, They Hated Barry Goldwater
The Naked Capitalist;
a Review and Commentary on Dr. Carroll Quigley's Book: Tragedy and Hope
- W. Cleon Skousen (1970)
When Congress convened in 1964, President Johnson obliged the Left-wing elements of his party by exploiting the emotional climate resulting from the Presidents death and demanded that the Congress pass the Kennedy bills which they had rejected the previous spring. Almost blindly the Congress went to work and frequently, without any serious attempt to debate many important aspects of these bills, they began to be passed.
At the grassroots, observing citizens of both political parties became increasingly alarmed with what they could see happening. They began scouring the political field for a candidate who could rally the American people and re-direct the course of the nation before it as too late.
Foremost among the conservative candidates, of course, was Barry Goldwater, the Senator from Arizona. For several years he had been saying that America was off the track and had to go back. History was catching up with the American people and what he had been saying began to make more and more sense. This was bound to reflect itself politically so it was not long before the Goldwater-for-President campaign started to roll. All across the country delegates to the Republican National Convention began announcing to advance that they had made an iron-clad commitment to support Goldwater for ONLY Goldwater.
The 1964 Republican Convention and the Goldwater Campaign
The political climate of 1964 was such that a capable conservative candidate had an excellent chance of winning, and the Establishment knew it. Money and manpower was thrown into the primaries and individual state organizations to try to stop Goldwater before he ever got to San Francisco, but the Goldwater bandwagon continued rolling along. The next step was to try to stop him at San Francisco.
The Establishment forces at the Republican National Convention were represented by the Rockefeller-Scranton contingents. They used every political weapon in their well-furbished arsenal to embarrass or discredit Goldwater. To veteran political observers it was amazing how strong the locked-in Goldwater delegates stood up under the pressure. Goldwater was nominated.
The Establishment then turned to its own locked-in sources to power. The media (press, radio, and TV) were turned on Goldwater with a blasting vengeance. In retrospect it was an amazing demonstration of what a controlled press can do in a free republic. The tactic was to divert the attention of the people away from the real issues and use whatever circumstances became available to frighten the American people away from Goldwater.
In Stephen Shadeggs book, What Happened to Goldwater? (1965) there is a valuable summary of factors which determined the ultimate outcome of the Goldwater campaign. Shadegg points out that it was impossible for Goldwater to be heard on the issues when the press, the magazines, the radio and TV were all pounding out a subtle (and sometimes blatant) message of Extremist, Racist,, Atomic-bomber, Trigger Happy, War monger, Psychologically unfit, and He will scrap Social Security.
Television advertising against Goldwater was also shrewdly prepared along the same theme. It included two powerful little Madison Avenue gems, one showing an atomic explosion and the other showing a Social Security card being torn in two.
Shadegg writes, A part of the answer to the question What happened to Goldwater? must be found in the violence of those who opposed him. The election did not hinge on the popularity of ability of Lyndon Johnson. He was a secondary figure, and the great mandate became his inheritance. It was not a testament to his wisdom or leadership, but rather an indication of the violent dislike for Goldwater generated largely by the hundreds of magazine articles, the derogatory remarks of the columnists, the unexplained errors (such as the UPI report of Goldwaters statement on the Howard Smith ABC television appearance), and the scathing attacks of people such as William Stringfellow, Ralph Gingsberg, and Fred Cook.
Dean Burch said:
I think most of the reporters, if they would ever let their defenses down, would agree that taken as a whole the press was so violently antagonistic to Goldwater that even if they had wanted to be honest about it, it was impossible to them to be honest because they were so busy looking for weaknesses. In other words, the press in this particular campaign performed the function of the opposition. They took a look at what Goldwater advocated and them they looked for whatever was the weakest link in that chain and that became the issue.
On the other hand, with Johnson, anything that was against him they ignored. For example, if Senator Goldwater during his twelve years in the U.S. Senate has accumulated $14 million as a personal fortune I am sure that the press in a period of three months could have made his name synonymous with Benedict Arnold, whereas with Johnson it was just one of those Well boys will be boys things and everyone is entitled to make a living.
Secondly, if I or someone close to Senator Goldwater has been called before the Senate Rules Committee and them taken the Fifth Amendment, that subject would never have been dropped. At every press conference Goldwater would have been asked to explain in detail what my role was, what the planned to do about it, whereas the Bobby Baker case was stressed Only By Goldwater. The Press Never Discussed It With The President.
Thirdly, if I had been picked up in the mens room of the YMCA, [like LBJs man, Jenkins] the stories that would have been written on it would have lasted for two or three months and the conclusion would have been that obviously Goldwater knew about it and obviously, possibly, he was a little bit peculiar.
- What Happened to Goldwater?, pp. 263-264)
For the Communist/DemocRAT party to survive, it needs the GOP “boogeyman” as a tool to scare it’s sheep with and keep them in the flock. IMHO, the best thing that could happen right now is for the GOP to collapse. The communists would then own this mess entirely. We just cannot continue going the way that we are going.
Proud to say my first vote ever was for Goldwater.
Gotta say, I agree. As long as the current GOP survives, we won’t.
He was well before my time but truly a man after my conservative heart despite the lies of idiots like Ann Coulter.
It was his "principles" that done him in, I guess that explains her support for Romney since he has none.
Remind me. Goldwater got destroyed in the election, right?
The Leftist Rockefeller Republicans when into full attack mode through the media to destroy Barry Goldwater’s campaign.
His principled vote against the 64 civil rights act was absolutely correct due to its far overreaching nature. After all he favored earlier versions of the civil rights act.
Just look at the restrictions and requirements placed on private businesses today.
Which, if I recall correctly were all stopped and filibustered in the Senate with the help of Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson.
Ain't History Grand?
The earlier versions of the civil rights act didn’t place restrictions on private individuals or businesses.
Today we have courts ruling that photographers MUST photograph gay wedding parties.
Where are we today after the Reagan revolution? Are we on a long term path following constitutional principles?
Grow and empower the Federal Government.
What did Johnson say again?
The Reagan Revolution ended with Geo. H W Bush (it was his turn) kinder gentler nation
I remember. The emerging modern conservative movement was blamed for a "climate of hate" and violence that led to the assassination of JFK.. we were blamed for lots more than that -- and no Internet plus the "Fairness Doctrine" made it risky for radio to air conservative responses -- we were the silenced generation.
"Barry Goldwater distrusted him from the start, and with good reason. On the day of John F. Kennedys assassination, Cronkite nodded his head in thinly veiled contempt when handed a note on air that the Arizona senator had said no comment. Goldwater was attending his mother-in-laws funeral that day.
"'Whether or not Senator Goldwater wins the nomination,' Cronkite told viewers another day, 'he is going places, the first place being Germany.' Although Goldwater had merely accepted an invitation to visit a U.S. Army facility there, correspondent Daniel Schorr said he was launching his campaign in 'the center of Germanys right wing.' During Goldwaters speech at the 1964 convention, some conservatives fed up with the networks gave Cronkite the finger."
I remember that.. other accounts had Cronkite reporting on his evening news show the item about Goldwater's remark. I did not remember that but I do remember Cronkite on 22 November 1963 and I remember Schorr's report on the evening CBS "news."
If only the liberals, progressives, and RINOs would come up with something new.. it's always screams of "RACIST!" "HATE!" "NAZIS!" -- though Mitt Romney's father and other Rockefeller Republicans did come up with yelling "purveyors of hate" at us. That was kind of neat.. also I remember the photo of Nelson Rockefeller at the podium (San Francisco convention 1964) giving the finger to the Goldwater delegates. Wish I could find that photo.
My first vote and first door knocked on was for Goldwater. I still have my elephant pen with black glasses.
Its past time for a grass roots GOP candidate to arise. The 2016 version is not yet on the horizon. Any known quantity (Rubio, Palin, Jindal) can be defined and marginalized. The GOP needs a wildcard in 2016...one from the pop culture, not the culture of Washington. Clint Eastwood please pick up the red courtesy phone...