Goldwater. That three-syllable word itself elicits cautious admiration from modern conservatives and hearty condemnation from modern progressives. While one of the most polarizing conservative figures in US history, there is no doubt that Barry Morris Goldwater was a unique politician who wasn’t afraid to make his principles clear, even if it would cost him his career, which was and is a rare thing in the demagogic nature of democracies. The nature of democracies itself discourages honesty, which makes the act of standing up for what you truly believe to be righteous more dangerous. However, as JFK recounted in Profiles of Courage, there have always been lawmakers who risk their careers to do what was right for the nation, demonstrating political courage by taking a stand for the public good despite pressure from interest groups, mainstream opinions, and even their own political parties and constituents. In the face of the river of mainstream, New Deal Era, socialist, and modern progressivist politics, Goldwater stood as a rock of conservatism and liberty instead of balking and going with the stream. Instead of submitting to the current politics of the day that demanded he move to gain votes, Goldwater made that resolute statement to America, “No. You move”
Journalist John Adams once said, “his acceptance speech was bold, reflecting his conservative views, but not irrational. Rather than shrinking from those critics who accuse him of extremism, Goldwater challenged them head-on” about Goldwater’s acceptance speech at the 1964 Republican Convention where Goldwater declared that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue”.
One of the most widely held misconceptions about Senator Barry Goldwater, was that he was against civil rights because he voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to CNN’s Roland Martin, Goldwater’s vote was the moment the Grand Old Party began to go against civil rights.
This misconception about Goldwater has been used to slander him through the decades, but could not be farther from the truth. Barry Goldwater was famous during his political career for being perhaps the greatest advocate for civil rights and equality in Washington. He was the driving force behind the desegregation of the National Guard, and refused to allow the US Air Force Academy to name its visitor center, “Barry Goldwater Visitor Center” unless they desegregated the academy, which they did. He founded the Air National Guard in Arizona, and desegregated it years before the other branches of the armed forces were mandated to do so.
Goldwater did not have ties to the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), but was publicly endorsed by members of the organization. Lyndon Johnson exploited this association during the elections, but Goldwater barred the KKK from his rallies and denounced them as a “hate filled and bigoted tribe of savages who base their entire ideology off of primitive, and long obsolete doctrine”. In doing this, he both rejected perhaps his greatest supporters, racist southern whites, thereby sacrificing his chances at winning with a Southern Strategy in order to stay true to his principles.
The reason behind Barry Goldwater’s opposition vote to the earlier edition of the Civil Rights Act were Title II and Title IV, which he felt delegated too much power to the federal government by prohibiting businesses and private organizations from discriminating based on racial factors. He remarked that his stance was “based on his view that the act was an intrusion of the federal government into the affairs of states and, second, the Act interfered with the rights of private persons to do business, or not, with whomever they chose” as he was a strong advocate and avid believer in the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” However, he eventually voted for and supported a revised edition of the Bill, stating that there was too much good it would do to vote against it. However, this one act against what he saw as a flawed solution to the terrible problem of racial segregation decimated his voter base as his opposition, the LBJ led Democratic party and
Throughout his life, Goldwater stayed true to the libertarian conservative values he held despite much opposition from his fellow party members who found his views too “radical”. His staunch fiscal conservatism, social liberalism, and militant anti-communism alarmed almost the entirety of both parties. He was viewed as far too “right wing” to appeal to the mainstream majority, whose votes were necessary to win the election, and was thus rejected by the “Rockefeller Republicans” who had watered down their original ideology to garner the votes of the moderate majority. Barry Morris Goldwater had every opportunity to go the way of the standard route of the vast majority of politicians and abandon his principles to g