Barry Goldwater

Barry Morris Goldwater (January 1, 1909 - May 29, 1998) was a United States politician and figurehead of the modern conservative movement in the USA.

Goldwater was born in Phoenix, Arizona Territory. His father was originally Jewish, but converted to Episcopalianism to marry his fiancee, Barry's mother. Once, at golf course in Maryland, Senator Goldwater was told "You can't play here, this is a restricted course", to which he responded "I'm only half Jewish...is it all right if I only play nine holes?"

Goldwater entered politics in 1949. He served as a Senator from the State of Arizona, from 1953 to 1965 and again from 1969 to 1987. He was the Republican Party candidate for the Presidency in the 1964 election, losing to Lyndon Johnson.

Before Goldwater, the Republican Party was not clearly committed to political conservatism. He alarmed even some of his fellow partisans with his brand of staunch fiscal conservatism and militant anti-Communism. After boldly declaring in his acceptance speech at the 1964 Republican Convention that "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice ...", Goldwater was painted as a dangerous figure by the incumbent Johnson administration, which countered Goldwater's slogan "In your heart, you know he's right" with the line "In your guts, you know he's nuts." Goldwater garnered only thirty-nine percent of the election day vote, but he changed the Republican Party forever.

Goldwater was not personally a racist; in fact, he was instrumental in desegregating the Arizona National Guard. Goldwater, did, however oppose federal civil rights legislation. This opposition to civil rights legislation, plus his anti-communism, started the South's long movement to the GOP. Until the end of the campaign, when he was embittered by what he thought were unfair attacks, Goldwater was reluctant to harness the growing white backlash.

Goldwater died in Paradise Valley, Arizona. He moderated his positions in later years, and opposed legislation against abortion.

Further reading

Before the Storm book by Rick Perlstein

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