Clearly, conservatives need to take a different path than they have been taking in recent years. Despite the awful policies the current administration has enacted, Obama won the 2012 presidential election, and even though the vote was close, it should have been a blowout. That’s where Goldwater Conservatism 2.0 comes into play.
What in the World is Goldwater Conservatism?
Barry Goldwater, for the younger conservatives out there, was an Arizona Senator-turned-presidential candidate during the 1950s and 60s. He entered politics on a platform of cleaning up corruption (both moral and political), was an strong anti-communist, and was willing to cross party lines to enact effective and beneficial legislation based on hard evidence. He was a strong supporter of free speech, even if he disagreed with what was said. Most importantly, though, Goldwater emphasized state rights over federal meddling.
Although Goldwater famously voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he had supported all previous civil rights legislation. His reason for voting against the Act was that he felt business owners should not be subject to requirements of federal law. This made him incredibly popular in the South amongst democrats, but it proved unpopular everywhere else, and was the primary reason for his landslide defeat in 1964.
Goldwater voted based upon principle rather than rhetoric, which made him a somewhat unpredictable force within his party.
What Goldwater Conservatism Would Accomplish Today?
Goldwater was derided in the 1980s for turning off social conservatives, but that is exactly what the problem is today. Yet, the 1980s revealed Goldwater for what he really was—a libertarian. He was consistent in his belief that government ought not to be involved in our lives in any way, shape, or form. That included our bedrooms as well as our wallets, which are huge issues amongst all Americans today and especially amongst young people who are struggling just to survive in a nearly unbelievable job market, made all the worse via Obamacare.
Goldwater wanted the US to stop funding the United Nations when China became a member due to his anti-communist stance, saying, “I suggested on the floor of the Senate today that we stop all funds for the United Nations. Now, what that’ll do to the United Nations, I don’t know. I have a hunch it would cause them to fold up, which would make me very happy at this particular point. I think if this happens, they can well move their headquarters to Peking or Moscow and get ‘em out of this country.”
Goldwater advocated accountability from both sides of the isle, making enemies of both Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon for their underhanded tactics in politics. Additionally, he was a strong supporter of the environment, strongly anti-union, believed in right to work states, agrarian rights, and vehemently against social programs that bought the votes of those needing help.
Are We Ready For Goldwater Conservatism 2.0?
Yes. Although some of Goldwater’s personal beliefs were sometimes contrary to party stances (for example, on abortion, Goldwater was pro-choice), nearly all of his beliefs were ones that would appeal to younger republicans and moderates today, as well as libertarians. Even though he felt as though conservative values were inseparable from the politics, it turns out that his reasons for being conservative were very congruent with his political stances, and they are beliefs that many people today would be more than happy to support in a candidate.
In light of this, maybe it is time for the GOP to blow the dust off this chapter in their playbook.