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Back in 1964, the Democratic National Committee released an ad targeting then-Republican nominee Barry Goldwater, featuring a buttoned up man explaining his reservations about the candidate, who was considered an extremist at the time. Goldwater was pilloried for his rejection of the New Deal and social programs (he wanted to roll back Social Security) and for his advocacy of using nuclear weapons in Vietnam. (Remember the famous “Daisy Chain” ad by rival Lyndon Johnson?)
The unnamed “Republican” in the ad speaks about his uneasiness with being associated with Goldwater, who he found extreme and politically dangerous. Goldwater’s habit of speaking bluntly was easy fodder for rivals.
Now, that same ad is going viral, poking at our generation’s own reactionary bigot. Just replace “Goldwater” with “Trump” and you’ll see what all the fuss is about.
“The hardest thing for me about this whole campaign is to sort out one Goldwater statement from another. A reporter will go to Senator Goldwater and he’ll say, “Senator, on such and such a day, you said, and I quote, ‘blah blah blah’ whatever it is, end quote.” And then Goldwater says, “Well, I wouldn’t put it that way.” I can’t follow that. Was he serious when he did put it that way? Is he serious when he says I wouldn’t put it that way? I just don’t get it. A President ought to mean what he says.”
He continues, “I wouldn’t have worried so much about party unity because if you unite behind a man you don’t believe in, it’s a lie. I tell you, those people who got control of that convention: Who are they? I mean, when the head of the Ku Klux Klan, when all these weird groups come out in favor of the candidate of my party — either they’re not Republicans or I’m not.”
Goldwater lost the 1964 election badly. He only won six states — all in the South — plus his home state of Arizona, with 38.5 percent of the popular vote. His legacy, however, was moving the GOP’s center away from eastern elites like the Rockefellers — who had dominated Republicanism for years — to the South and West.
Conservatives might claim that America is a fundamentally conservative country, but the facts speak for themselves.
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Photo: A still from a Republican who’s ashamed of Barry Goldwater. YouTube/TheLBJLibrary
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