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  • Barry Goldwater: The Most Consequential Loser in American Politics


    This week, we celebrate two of the most important dates in modern conservative politics—presidential candidate Barry Goldwater’s crushing defeat on November 3, 1964, and President Ronald Reagan’s election on November 4, 1980. Let us pause to acknowledge that there would have been no Reagan without Goldwater.

    In the last week of his disastrous campaign, Goldwater gave Reagan the opportunity to deliver a televised speech, “A Time for Choosing,” that made the former Hollywood actor a political star overnight and led to his running for and becoming governor of California. If any of the other candidates—all liberals—had been nominated in 1964, Reagan would not have been asked to make a TV spot, let alone a speech.

    Political historian Theodore White wrote that again and again in American history, the losers of the presidency have contributed almost as much to the political dialogue as the winners. Such a candidate was Barry Goldwater, the most consequential loser in American politics. Consider the following:

    • Goldwater was the first ideological candidate for whom ideas, not voting blocs, were of primary importance. He argued that principle, not power, should rest at the core of the presidency.
    • Thousands of young people entered and stayed in politics because of Goldwater—among them the president of The Heritage Foundation, Ed Feulner.
    • Goldwater broke the Democratic hold on the South, carrying five Deep South states and laying the foundation for present-day Republican dominance of the South.

    Many of the issues of 1964 are still issues today—Social Security, government spending, law and order, morality in government, and victory over foreign enemies (Communism then, Islamic terrorism today).

    In 1980, Reagan campaigned and won on a Goldwater platform: Government is not the solution but the problem; cut taxes; strengthen the military; win the Cold War.

    The two men differed in style and personality. Goldwater was Arizona blunt; Reagan, California mellow. Goldwater didn’t want those who didn’t agree with him 100 percent to vote for him. Reagan welcomed converts of all parties and persuasions.

    Barry Goldwater was a fiery Old Testament prophet, warning the people to repent. Ronald Reagan was a New Testament apostle, preaching redemption.

    And you wouldn’t have had the one without the other.

    Posted in First Principles [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to Barry Goldwater: The Most Consequential Loser in American Politics

    1. Bobbie says:

      It's too bad Mr. Goldwater didn't get in. America's motto: Stop the advancement of government: socialism, communism, racism, fascism, dictatorship!

      Didn't the President Obama go to Harvard? So today that's what their results in graduates become? Adult delinquents?

      True men speak with integrity and use common sense to solve the incompetent actions of narcissist, overruling government. To this day Reagan inspires strength in people (young and old) with the faith he shows in the principles and values of America(ns).

      It was humbling to hear the gratitude of the immigrant Cuban man mentioned.

      "Government doesn't solve the problem, government is the problem!" It's too bad every President after him couldn't have built on that! It's too bad democrats and some rinos have no respect to stay within their constitutional duties and support we the people where we were able to help ourselves before their overreach.

      Ron Paul is a true man! A needed man! A man of strong, American valued conviction! With a leadership team of Ron Paul, Herman Caine, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and John Huntsman could you imagine the self worth and dignity the people of this country would have as individuals or if and when preferred "cultures" of individuals?

    2. Loren Sanders Srl says:

      I too was brought into the conservative movement with Goldwater. He really told it like it was and it is a shame the folks didn't listen and give him a chance to change the direction of America. We see government failing at the most important job that it has, protecting the country. We have a Commander and Chief that turns his back on this important duty, degrades Christian values and promotes Muslims that hate America…and he apologizes to other countries that only want our purchasing power for their commodities and goods. The crowd often yelled out "Give em Hell Barry" and it was greeted with great applause. A truly great American with vision, that was Barry Goldwater. We were indeed fortunate to get President Reagan into office to do the big flush…..as a retired Plumber I can speak from experience that the flushing must continue with the next election.

    3. Brad says:

      I read a splendid book by the leftist historian Rick Perlstein. It examined the Goldwater campaign and he emerges as a very principled man; somewhat naive about the brute force liberalism of LBJ and JFK/RFK. They'd do whatever it took to win. Goldwater was loathe to the entire backroom deals and pork spending that for many decades assured liberalism's victory. Prior to JFK's assassination Goldwater had said that Jack Kennedy and he were going to travel across the country in the same plane debating ea other.
      Sad that he didnt win. The USA would've had much more public debate/discussion about entry into Viet Nam than it ever did with LBJ and Bill Moyers

    4. C. Wagner says:

      Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.

      Stand firmly planted upon your principles having a steadfast faith rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ, that we will prevail as a just nation. Be strong and immovable having malice to no man. This is our Heritage.

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