Barry Goldwater: Why “Mr. Conservative” hated the Christian Right…by Don Lacey on Apr. 17, 2012, under Abortion, AZ Politics, Christian Self-Righteous Arrogance, Christianity, Conservatism vs. Liberalism, Critical Thinking, Ethics, Faith, Fundamentalism, Gay Marriage, Government, History, Libertarianism, Reason, Religion, Responsible Government, Sanity, Separation of Church & State, Willful Ignorance
Here is a post from Jim Wilson:
Former Arizona Senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater is fascinating. He was a product of the state of Arizona and he managed to be the leading voice in the revival of American conservatism during the 1950′s and 1960′s. He was called Mr. Conservative, but rejected much of the utterly despicable elements of today’s conservative movement. My fascination with the man stems from the degree to which he was a symbol of failure and sign of some very interesting times.
When I say he is a symbol of failure, I mean to say that his admirably uncompromising adherence to his conservative principles was responsible for his defeat in one of the biggest landslides in the history of American presidential politics. Furthermore, this landslide defeat was to Lyndon Baines Johnson, whose presidency arguably marked the peak of post-war liberalism in the United States, with his expansions of federal funding for education, and the introduction of the Head Start program, food stamps, Work Study, Medicare, and Medicaid. Goldwater lived to see the postwar conservative movement he helped develop eventually become politically successful. He saw the elections of conservative Ronald Reagan in the 1980′s but he also saw conservatism taken over by religious zealots. He fundamentally disagreed with religious zealots and religious zealots reject much of his small government principles.
Goldwater was an ideological purist. He was a fierce anti-communist, a fierce proponent of states’ rights, and a proponent of a minimalistic federal government. At the same time, he publicly rejected much of the fringe elements of the anti-communist movement as well as the John Birch Society. He opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, on the grounds that it interfered with states’ rights and that it violates rights of business people to do business with whoever they choose. This made him the first republican ever to win in the old South, but it lost him the election everywhere else. He also held the position that nuclear weapons should have been used in the Vietnam War. This opened him up to being the victim of one of the most successful modern political attack ads–the daisy campaign, which depicted a young girl picking flowers as a nuclear bomb is dropped.
Goldwater was willing to compromise his political success by taking up uncompromising opinions—an admiral quality. He believed that “… extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” All of this was done at a time when he was at odds with conventional wisdom and public opinion. I also appreciate his willingness to stand up to member s of his own party. He referred to Richard Nixon as “the most dishonest individual I have ever met in my life”, out of his disgust with the Watergate cover-up. To this day the term “Goldwater moment” is used to describe instances where influential congress men stand up to presidents of their own party, over moral disagreements.
His willingness to criticize even fellow party members continued to grow later in his life. He was highly disappointed and critical of the Iran-Contra affair and latter broke with his party by proposing a bill for legalizing medical marijuana in Arizona. He became very disgusted by the rise of the religious right, and it’s opposition to his libertarian social stances. He is known to of said, “I don’t have any respect for the Religious Right. There is no place in this country for practicing religion in politics. That goes for Falwell, Robertson and all the rest of these political preachers. They are a detriment to the country.”
As well as, “A lot of so-called conservatives don’t know what the word means. They think I’ve turned liberal because I believe a woman has a right to an abortion. That’s a decision that’s up to the pregnant woman, not up to the pope or some do-gooders or the Religious Right.”
Not to mention,“When you say “radical right” today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”
And, “Every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.” (Some sources insist he actually said “nuts”)
He also became a huge supporter of Gay Rights saying, “Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar.”
And, “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.”
Eventually, he told the republican establishment of the 90′s, “Do not associate my name with anything you do. You are extremists, and you’ve hurt the Republican party much more than the Democrats have.”
I do not think a small government purists and social libertarians or genuine fiscal conservatives like Mr. Goldwater could make in it today’s Republican party or conservative movement, which has become infested with theocrats and enemies of personal freedom. This is really a shame. There is nothing conservative about using the government to promote religious dogma, stifle dissenting opinion, or impose religious prohibitions on a population that may or may not agree with them. Additionally, there is nothing conservative about massive international interventionism or massive deficit spending either. This country was founded on what were considered radical expansions of personal freedom, and it is wrong for people to call themselves conservative while trying to undue our constitutional legacy of civil liberties.