Before there was Ronald Reagan there was Barry Goldwater, and before there was Barry, there was National Review , and before there was National Review there was Bill Buckley with a spark in his mind.
In 1964, I tried to convince my grandfather, who was active in the New York City firefighters union, to vote for Barry Goldwater over Lyndon Johnson because at the time I thought his approach to limited government was right on.
Imagine a senator running for president whose positions included halving the military budget, socializing the medical system, re-regulating the communications and electrical industries, establishing a guaranteed minimum income for all Americans, and equalizing funding for all schools regardless of property valuations - and who promised to fire Alan Greenspan, counseled withdrawal from the World Trade Organization, and, for good measure, spoke warmly of adolescent sexual experimentation. That was Barry Goldwater, conservative.
Liberals and leftists have been dismissing inconvenient facts by attacking motives for generations. In the 1930s, '40s, and '50s, Soviet spies and abettors attacked the motives of their accusers because the fact of their guilt was undeniable. In the 1960s, over a thousand psychiatrists who'd never even met Barry Goldwater signed a petition saying the GOP candidate was too mentally unstable to be president.
The Barry Goldwater movement excited the depths because the apocalypse was brought more near, and like millions of other whites, I had been leading a life which was a trifle too pointless and a trifle too full of guilt and my gullet was close to nausea with the empty promises of an empty liberal center.
He was a superb military officer but he was also an extraordinarily gifted politician. That he was an unusually open, honest and no-nonsense politician did not make him unsuited for the profession, only uncommon. In uniform and in politics Barry's purpose was always the defense of freedom. And nobody before or since managed the task more ably or more colorfully than Barry Goldwater.