Barry Goldwater’s wisdom

June 1, 2011

“You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.”

“When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”

–Barry Goldwater, “Mr. Conservative”, father of the modern conservative movement in the United States.

The political positions held by the Democratic and Republican parties in today’s modern America are fiscally and socially center-left, and fiscally and socially center-right, respectively. In recent years, the Republican party has probably abandoned its “center-right” status for sharper political positions and rhetoric. But that’s not important.

Two things are astounding to me. Firstly, the gradual alienation of Goldwater from the movement he himself precipitated (Reagan rose to prominence during Goldwater’s failed ’64 presidential campaign) because of the clash of the Religious Right and Goldwater’s libertarian views, and a statistic that I came across the other day:

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