Tag: barry goldwater

Barry Goldwater is Only Popular Today Because He Lost

By Ryan Lau | @agorisms

The liberty movement today does not have many elected officials to look up to. Considering that a large percentage of it doesn’t believe in electing officials at all, this is not surprising. Two main theories exist in regards to why those in power often are corrupt. As philosopher John Acton puts it, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The American presidency, of course, is nearly absolute power, and thus, lends itself to a whole lot of corruption.

Scientist David Brin, on the other hand, offers a much different theory. He says, “It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.” This idea, of course, recognizes that power does not change people much, but rather, only corrupt people seek it.

Both of these quotes, though, share a very similar critical concept. Regardless of the nature of power, and whether it is the cause of corruption, there is a strong correlation between power and corruption. Even though those in power may not have started corrupt, they quickly become that way when the opportunity presents itself.

The Actor-Turned-Corrupted Official

One of the greatest examples of this quick change is Ronald Reagan. The former actor served as both California’s governor and POTUS, in the 1960s and 1980s, respectively. Both times, he campaigned on promises of limited government leading to a thriving economy. But both times, he failed to live up to this promise.

As the governor of California, Reagan actually signed off on the largest tax increase in the state’s history. This, of course, is highly antithetical to everything that he ran on. Despite this, Americans still elected him president in 1980 with a huge margin of victory.

However, Reagan, as president, once more abandoned his alleged virtues of limited government. Though he did cut the income tax considerably, he was, in other ways, not true to his word. Admittedly, some of this was due to resistance in a Democratic Congress. But still, much of the blame falls solely on the former president. From 1981 to 1989, the national debt increased by 186%. Deficit spending increased, and the budget increased. In fact, he even raised military spending by an alarming 35% in only eight years.

For these reasons, it is impossible to view Reagan as a supporter of small government without some pretty strong rose colored glasses. Upon entering positions of power, both times, he betrayed his alleged principles. This trait is not unique to Reagan though. In fact, due to the similarity of his campaign to Barry Goldwater, it is highly likely that Goldwater would have done the same, if elected.

Barry Goldwater: The Unproven Failure

In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson handed Barry Goldwater one of the most crippling defeats in political history. After Kennedy’s assassination, there was little to no chance that the man would have been able to win. But what if he did?

Much like Reagan, Goldwater campaigned on promises of limited government intervention in the economy. He opposed FDR’s New Deal as a form of strong government overreach into the private sector, and is famous for also opposing a government strong enough to supply the citizens’ every need. Despite this strong personal position, his message would simply not have survived well in the tense political climate.

Differing from Reagan a bit, Barry Goldwater did have a track record of living up to his ideals. In his two terms as an Arizona senator, he retained most of his principles. But this is much more difficult to do as a president, especially when your ideas do not have a lot of support in the legislative body.

In 1965, Congress was heavily Democratic, with a majority in both the House and the Senate. These legislators overwhelmingly supported LBJ’s Great Society, and thus, would have fervently opposed the deregulation that Goldwater promised. So, even if he did adhere to his economic principles, it is highly unlikely that very many of them would have passed. Of course, Goldwater could have always passed some via executive order. But in doing so, he would have immediately violated his firmly held belief that a government should have very limited executive power. Thus, none of his economic ideas would come to fruition without abandoning the underlying principle behind them.

A Hypocritical Foreign Policy

Throughout the 1964 campaign, Barry Goldwater attacked LBJ relentlessly for his actions in Vietnam. Of course, it is true that Johnson lied to the American people about Vietnam, as well as needlessly brought the United States into the war. Goldwater was quick to point both of these things out, as well as call the war itself “Johnson’s war”. This all came after Johnson promised that he sought “no wider war” in Vietnam. Of course, this was not to be the case, as Johnson escalated the war and caused countless losses of American and foreign lives.

Conversely, Goldwater himself also had a very firm stance on opposing communism. Though Johnson’s allegations in the popular campaign ad “Daisy”, among others, that Goldwater would drop nuclear bombs on the North Vietnamese people were untrue, it is true that the conservative senator strongly supported action against communist regimes.

In July of 1964, Goldwater gave a speech in which he called for increased action to oppose communism. In fact, he called it “the principal disturber of peace in the world today”. He even went so far as to say that communist regimes were “enemies of every man on earth who is or wants to be free”, before referencing that America should become a beacon of freedom.

Without a doubt, these anti-communist sentiments imply a desire to spend considerable money opposing communist countries. Though Barry Goldwater may not have furthered the war as much as LBJ, his hawkish rhetoric suggests that any notion of small government would be crippled by increased military spending and presence throughout the world.

A Popular Loser

So, whether indirectly or directly, it appears Barry Goldwater would not have entirely lived up to his principles as president. Much like Reagan, corruption and bureaucracy would have crippled his ability to carry out limited government principles. American government, in a position of ultimate power, does not generally limit itself, hence the near-perpetual growth since its dawn.

Goldwater, a reasonably consistent voice for smaller government, would not have been an exception. His lack of success in 1964 ensured he could never go back on his own word, though, preserving his integrity and allowing him to become a role model for limited government advocates of today.


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The Myth of the Big Southern Republican Party Switch

By Benjamin Olsen | United States

The big switch is a long debated topic on whether or not the Republican party espoused racist ideas and ‘switched’ their party’s ideals in order to gain the southern vote. The idea that the South switched from Democrat to Republican overnight in order to oppose the Civil Rights Act is absurd. In fact, it shows a complete lack of understanding of history and economics.

The Republican party has its roots in the tumultuous time preceding the American Civil War, and the party was founded on the main principle of abolishing slavery. Its goal was to oppose the Democratic party in all dealings and to ensure that all new states or territories would enter the union as free-soil, where no man could suffer under the yoke of another man. After the war, the Republican party had accomplished most of its initial goals.

In the following years, they adopted the economic ideas of a free market. After all, the only way to get the South back on its feet was to allow the market to operate freely. This provided unprecedented growth in the United States. The problem with the free market after the Civil War, however, is that the South did not have the infrastructure to sustain the type of markets needed. Their fields had been salted and their raw exports they benefited from before the war had dried up.

The desolation of the South led to the inevitable meddling of government through tax-breaks, cronyism, and nepotism. The South was unable to partake in the free market that flourished under U. S. Grant’s presidency. The following presidents continued to meddle in the market. The result? The free market collapsed, giving way to defective cronyism.

Cronyism is a corrupt market economy where special interests control the government. This is achieved slowly and surely through political insider trading, campaign donations, and returned favors. The familiar images of the late 1800s are indicative of cronyism. The South’s voting bloc started to favor those who could revive the dying economy in the South. This means that even as soon as 50 years after the Civil War, votes in the South were going to Republican candidates. In 1868 alone, Tennessee, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Florida and Arkansas voted for U. S. Grant. On the other hand, New York, a Republican state, lit up blue for the first time. The South was more worried about getting back on its feet instead of preserving an institution that anyone could see was dead.

Fast forward to the progressive era. The new wave of socialism and fascism left many in both mainstream parties feeling disenfranchised. The parties seemed to gravitate towards the extremes and left many moderates scrambling for a party to call home. The South, throughout the progressive era, shifted and voted for the Democratic party, which favored populist ideologies. Populism sought to look after ordinary people and this idea was attractive to many ordinary people in the South. This is often because they thought they did not have the wealth and power of the North.

Enter the Great Depression. With the Republicans in charge when the market collapsed, many people looked to the populist ideas of the Democrats to save them. The people subsequently elected FDR to 4 terms. His New Deal policies put people to work, but unbeknownst to them, his policies, including a trade war, may have been responsible for the Depression’s decade and a half length.

FDR’s agricultural regulations led to the destruction of the once profitable business of farming. Farmers left their fields and fled to the city, effectively killing the industry until technology was able to bring it back from the dead. However, with the victory over the Axis powers in World War II, the US economy boomed. Most Americans, no matter their region, voted Democrat, electing Harry Truman. After Truman’s presidency, Eisenhower won in a landslide, reflecting his popularity after WWII. The map lit up blue once again when the South voted for JFK.

Most believers of the ‘Switch’ point to the election of 1964 as proof of the idea that Republicans were harping on racist ideas to win votes. The mastermind behind this plan that they point to is Barry Goldwater. Goldwater was a senator from Arizona who opposed two sections of the Civil Rights Act. The two articles regulated private businesses and forced them to cater to everyone. He saw this as unconstitutional and difficult to enforce. Therefore, he voted against the act.

However, he is not a racist for doing so. He did, though, accurately predict that the sections would lead to racial quotas. It is worth noting that Goldwater was a big supporter of the 24th Amendment, which made poll taxes illegal. He also strongly favored movements to pass civil rights legislation in 1957 and 1960. Goldwater ran in ‘64 for president and many in the Deep South voted for him, perhaps misunderstanding his opposition to the Civil Rights Act or instead favoring his campaign promises of cutting back welfare programs and freeing the markets.

In 1968 the South voted for 3rd party candidate George Wallace, whose campaign was founded on complete segregation. ‘72 saw a landslide for Republican candidate Richard Nixon who promised to end the Vietnam war and restore law and order. In ‘76 the South chose to switch back to Democrat to elect Jimmy Carter. In ‘80, with another crippled economy, the South voted for a Republican again, electing Ronald Reagan. With continued economic growth and a full boom in effect, the South voted red again. And in ‘92, the South voted for Bill Clinton, going back to Democrat. But with the economy suffering under Clinton, the South decided to switch once more and voted for Republican George Bush.

After presenting the voting pattern of the South, it is hard to draw a line where the switch took place. The possible conclusion is that there was not a switch and rather the South does not vote as one racist bloc, but after their own interests, such as a good economy. The South has been voting for Republicans since immediately after the Civil War. There have been racist Republicans that have preyed on the racist tendencies of the deep South. There have been racist Democrats that have done likewise. However, race is not the only issue in an election, and economics has always played a larger role. Racial issues are important, but are not always most prevalent.


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