If there is one man whoepitomizes the best of the ideals of the Republican Party, from whose example we mustall learn and whose courage we may wish to emulate, and whose ideas and perspective so many of us have come to cherish, it would have to be the late Senator Barry Goldwater, who represented Arizona in the United States Senate for decades and who won the party's nomination for the Presidency in 1964.
Senator Goldwater, like other principledRepublicans, endured a particularly vicious and hostile media, and even attacks from fellow Republicans, but persevered in his beliefs and causes and is now understood by most intellectually honest observers as a principled leader and dedicated servant to his nation.
Goldwater was known for his passionate anti-communism. Although he sometimes spoke without anticipating how the press and political rivals would use his choice of words against him, Senator Goldwater understood the tyranny suffered by those who lived under Soviet, Cuban and Red Chinese rule and made no secret of his desire for our country to oppose the aggressive policies of Communist countries with every means required. His desire fora strong national defense was ridiculed by those who would appease tyrants at the expense of national security.
Goldwater's family history is one which illustrates the rewards, and indeed romance, of the private enterprise system. His grandfather, born in Russian occupied
Poland, was originally in the tailoring business. As a Jew, life in nineteenth century
Eastern Europewas not exactly ideal. He moved to
London, and eventually saved enough money from his tailoring work to sail with his wife to the
United States where he eventually tried several unsuccessfulbusiness ventures in
Arizona until he opened up a department store in
Phoenix which became very successful. Ultimately there was a chain of department stores, and the Goldwaters became quite prosperous.
Goldwater worked in the family department store and then ventured into
Phoenix municipal politics From the Phoenix City Council it was a quick leap to the United States Senate, being elected to serve the first of many terms in 1952. As a Senator, Goldwater shared the concerns of theSenator Joseph McCarthy about communist infiltration of the federal bureaucracy, especially the Department of State… These concerns were legitimate and justified. Communists and their sympathizers have, over time, through the release of documents after the collapse of the
Soviet Union and through Freedom of Information Act releases, been proven to have infiltrated a large segment of the Roosevelt-Truman era bureaucracy, an infiltration that this writer believes resumed during the unlamented Carter presidency. (See Treason, by Ann Coulter)
Twelve years later, Barry Goldwater,the grandson ofPolish Jewish immigrants, would be nominated for the
United States presidency by the Republican Party. His ideas, though, stirred significant controversy. Depicted as a radicalby a “country club Republican" wing of the party headed by New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller, Goldwater stood firm in opposition to big spending for social welfare programs and the use of government power to end employment discrimination. Nevertheless, Goldwaterdesegregatedhis family's department store when it was under his management in the nineteen forties, long before any serious civil rights movement even existed.
In his acceptance of the nomination he gave a campaign speech in which he famously stated:
" I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.
. And I would remind you that moderation in the pursuit of justice
is no virtue."
The Democrats launched an effective smear campaign against Senator Goldwater, taking out of context distortions and some careless comments to an improbable extrapolation. Using well crafted television commercials to portray Goldwater as somebody who would launch a nuclear war, the Johnson campaign pinned the extremist label on Goldwater with incessant fear mongering and even questioning the Senator's mental health. To this end, some ofGoldwater’s adversaries, publishers of a magazine called Fact, sent a questionnaire to 12,356 psychiatrists to determine if they believed he was mentally fit to be president. 1189 psychiatrists, none of whom were shown to have ever examined, tested or even met the Senator, wrote back that they did not believe he was mentally fit for the job. Based on this, the magazine published two articles highly derogatory to the Senator. Goldwater sued for libel, and won.
The election went poorly, and Lyndon Johnson won an overwhelming victory. But Goldwater went on to be a senior statesman of the Republican Party, and inspired a new wave of conservative activism in the Republican Party, not all of which he welcomed.
While Goldwater enthusiastically supported the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, the increasing tendency of religionists to exert political influence disturbed him. Goldwater's view of conservatism was more libertarians. He wanted an environment that would encourageopportunities for entrepreneurs without bureaucratic interference and with as little tax burden as possible. But he did not believe government's role was to legislatea morality code based on the Bible.
When the question of homosexuals serving in the military surfaced, Goldwater is remembered as saying “It shouldn't be necessary that you be straight to serve, just that you shoot straight" Nobody could ever question Goldwater's devotion to the national defense. He worked tirelessly to strengthen our military preparedness his entire career, and would live to see
America triumphant in the Cold War as the Soviet Empire splintered into multiple countries andbreakaway republics after 1989.
Producers of community access programming owe a special debt to Senator Goldwater. It was his authorship of the 1984 Cable Franchise Policy and Communications Act that guaranteed alternative producers(such as this author) the opportunity to be part of the media, when cities and towns granted cable companies special franchises. Because of Goldwater's effort,the strangle hold of the media giants on television was first eroded by his opening up “the information superhighway " to minority viewpoints, and local cultural, social and political affairs that never aired on television before.
To illustrate how absolutely un-frightened Goldwater was of what others would think, Senator Goldwater even took a stand on UFO's. He worked quietly behind the scenes to no avail to learn what was behind the famous ‘Hangar 18" at Wright Patterson Field in Ohio, after which a movie was named The popular, though unverified, belief is that the government holds the remains of a crashed flying saucer and the corpses of aliens in the hangar.. It is believed that certain of the Senator's experiences as a pilot and Air Force Brigadier General may have influenced this interest.
No doubt he understood that this issue, in the final analysis, mightbe of the greatest historical significance to the world if and when the answers are ever discovered.
But the real essence of Goldwater was the man's selfless love for
America, his understanding of the political and economic values that are our strength, and his willingness to say what was on his mind even if it got him into "trouble."