Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Barry Goldwater—Secret Liberal Crush

(This is the third part of the Texas Liberal series Four For The Fourth—Alternatives To Accommodation And Assimilation.) 

The late Senator Barry Goldwater  (1909-1998) of Arizona was a man ahead of his time. Ahead of his time with right-wing policies that would prove to be of great harm to the nation. And, the focus here, ahead of his time politically as an early advocate of a brand of conservatism that ended up ascendant in the nation. 

(What a difference in this regard between Senator Goldwater and another soundly defeated Presidential nominee, Senator George McGovern of South Dakota. It matters so much the era one is born into. Goldwater’s day came and McGovern’s day has not.)

Not a reformer in the sense of the previous subject of this series, FDR’s Labor Secretary Frances Perkins, Goldwater was willing to lose now to win later. He did not need to work well with others to reach his goal.

Also, the changes Perkins wanted were in some part driven by and in large part enabled by the crisis of the Depression. Goldwater ran for President in a time of prosperity.

Goldwater’s 1964 loss to Lyndon Johnson was one of the greatest landslides of all time.

While he wouldn’t have won a Presidential nomination if completely in the wilderness, Goldwater’s Sunbelt anti-tax individualism was not a winning ideology at the time. However, this did not lead Goldwater to retreat from his views. He ran his race in 1964 and he was still in the Senate as a strong conservative in 1980 when Ronald Reagan, a Sunbelt anti-tax individualist, won the White House.

The leader who sticks to seemingly out-of-the-mainstream beliefs even after defeat may be a kook or a prophet. Or both. Any ideologically committed person can understand Goldwater.

I’ve always had sympathy for Martin Luther King’s assertion that in a sick society it is the maladjusted person who may be most mentally well. If elected Goldwater might well have had King jailed for treason. Yet I see in Goldwater the same qualities and passions that drive many people of strong convictions to do brave things.

The fact that Goldwater saw much of his vision prevail leaves me with an admiration I can admit only to close friends, and, now, to readers of blogs.

July 4, 2007 Posted by | Four For The Fourth, Political History | 4 Comments