Barry Gold­wa­ter’s golden mo­ment

Con­ser­va­tives cel­e­brate 50 years of move­ment he ig­nited

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - BY JEN­NIFER HARPER

In their hearts, they know he’s still right — and could likely teach the na­tion a thing or two in th­ese dire days. When Barry Gold­wa­ter ac­cepted the 1964 Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent, he gave a speech that gal­va­nized his au­di­ence and went on to serve as a cat­a­lyst for the Amer­i­can con­ser­va­tive move­ment for decades to come. A wide ar­ray of con­ser­va­tive lu­mi­nar­ies — his­to­ri­ans, politi­cians, jour­nal­ists, for­mer Gold­wa­ter as­so­ciates — joined forces to or­ga­nize the Barry Gold­wa­ter 1964 Cam­paign 50th An­niver­sary Din­ner and Fo­rum, in Wash­ing­ton. They cel­e­brated the five-term se­na­tor from Ari­zona who once ad­vised Repub­li­cans, “We must, and we shall, re­turn to proven ways — not be­cause they are old, but be­cause they are true. … I would re­mind you 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.”

It was 50 years ago this month that Gold­wa­ter, who died in 1998 at the age of 89, lost to Lyn­don B. John­son in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, but the con­ser­va­tive move­ment gained a mo­men­tum from his cam­paign that it never lost. Staunch con­ser­va­tives and young en­thu­si­asts ral­lied and the post-1964 Repub­li­can Party re­built its in­tel­lec­tual and po­lit­i­cal base, set­ting the stage for Ron­ald Rea­gan’s vic­tory in 1980 and the emer­gence of the tea party decades later,

“It is hard to be­lieve a half-cen­tury has gone by since my fam­ily sat in San Francisco’s Cow Palace watch­ing my dad ac­cept the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent of the United States,” said Barry M. Gold­wa­ter Jr., who will speak at the din­ner, along with his sib­lings Michael Gold­wa­ter and Peggy Gold­wa­ter.

“I don’t think any of us saw the in­cred­i­ble long-term im­pact of his nom­i­na­tion,” said Mr. Gold­wa­ter, who served as con­gress­man from Cal­i­for­nia from 1969 to 1983.

“In his ac­cep­tance speech, he urged Americans to embrace the tra­di­tional val­ues of in­di­vid­ual free­dom and a free-mar­ket sys­tem. He stood tall in the sad­dle that night, not­ing the need for a strong na­tional de­fense to de­feat in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nism.”

At the din­ner, Mr. Gold­wa­ter said, “many of those who helped lead and par­tic­i­pate in his 1964 cam­paign will come to­gether to com­mem­o­rate that cam­paign but more im­por­tantly to pay homage to the im­mutable val­ues my dad and that cam­paign stood for.”

The host com­mit­tee in­cludes such con­ser­va­tive lu­mi­nar­ies as Rep. Tom McClin­tock of Cal­i­for­nia, John Wil­liam Middendorf II, Ed­win Feul­ner, Lee Ed­wards, Al­fred Reg­n­ery, Richard Viguerie, Neal B. Free­man, Phyl­lis Sch­lafly, Ron Robin­son and Mor­ton Black­well. The din­ner will follow a fo­rum at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion pars­ing the tra­jec­tory of the con­ser­va­tive move­ment fol­low­ing Gold­wa­ter’s 1964 cam­paign, which ran un­der the slo­gan, “In your heart you know he’s right.”

“This 50-year an­niver­sary is mo­men­tous as it launched the Amer­i­can con­ser­va­tive move­ment with the nom­i­na­tion of Barry Gold­wa­ter and the rise of Ron­ald Rea­gan. All mod­ern his­tory runs through this prism. Be­fore 1964, con­ser­vatism was dis­missed by lib­er­als as a ‘rash of ir­ri­ta­ble men­tal ges­tures’ — and all so­phis­ti­cated peo­ple be­lieved that gov­ern­ment could solve ev­ery­thing,” said Craig Shirley, a Rea­gan his­to­rian and au­thor.

“The re­sults of the midterms plus the elec­tions of Rea­gan, the Gin­grich con­gresses and the tea party revo­lu­tion, the rise of Fox News, News­max, Bre­it­bart and hun­dreds of other ex­am­ples show that ar­gu­ment is over. Or at least it should be. How­ever, there are still el­e­ments in the GOP — neo­cons, High To­ries and big-gov­ern­ment Repub­li­cans — who embrace Bushism over Rea­gan­ism. They are Repub­li­cans, yes, but they are not Amer­i­can con­ser­va­tives. They are more akin to philoso­pher Ed­mund Burke, who be­lieved in top-down gov­er­nance,” Mr. Shirley ob­served.

“True Amer­i­can con­ser­va­tives — like Gold­wa­ter, Rea­gan, Wil­liam F. Buckley and oth­ers — al­ways cham­pi­oned the in­di­vid­ual over the state and over cor­po­ratism. They be­lieve in bot­tom-up gov­er­nance. As did the framers. This dif­fer­ence be­tween Jef­fer­so­nian con­ser­va­tives and Burkean right­ists is as dif­fer­ent as night and day. This fight is rag­ing to­day, and that is why this an­niver­sary cel­e­brat­ing Gold­wa­ter is so im­por­tant,” he said.

Mr. Ed­wards, who an­a­lyzes con­ser­va­tive po­lit­i­cal thought at the Her­itage Foun­da­tion, dubbed Gold­wa­ter the “most con­se­quen­tial loser in Amer­i­can pol­i­tics.”

Jack Cox, chief of staff for Barry Gold­wa­ter Jr. when he served in the House, said the din­ner cel­e­brat­ing the fa­ther’s legacy and in­flu­ence would not be another run-of-the-mill Wash­ing­ton event.

“There are many, many po­lit­i­cal din­ners in Wash­ing­ton ev­ery week and re­ally ev­ery night,” Mr. Cox said. “All of th­ese are put on by some or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

The Gold­wa­ter din­ner, he said, “is dif­fer­ent in that no or­ga­ni­za­tion is be­hind it. This din­ner was or­ga­nized and sup­ported by in­di­vid­u­als from across the na­tion who per­son­ally in­vested their time and money to pause to rec­og­nize an ex­tra­or­di­nary leader in Barry Gold­wa­ter and a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign that changed our world. There would have never been a Ron­ald Rea­gan with­out Barry Gold­wa­ter. The im­pact of his cam­paign and lead­er­ship has been in­cred­i­ble.”

Net pro­ceeds from the din­ner will pay for the in­stal­la­tion of an 8-foot bronze statue of Gold­wa­ter in Stat­u­ary Hall at the U.S. Capi­tol. Last month, 11 law­mak­ers from Ari­zona sent a let­ter to House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Repub­li­can, to ap­prove in­stalling the fin­ished work in the hall on Ari­zona State­hood Day — Feb. 14, call­ing Gold­wa­ter “a man of great per­sonal in­tegrity and un­blem­ished honor who put his coun­try and our found­ing ideals be­fore him­self.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Barry Gold­wa­ter lost the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion 50 years ago, but he won the hearts of a new gen­er­a­tion of con­ser­va­tives.

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