Barry Goldwater, The Forgotten Liberal?

As I’ve written in blog posts in the past, Barry Goldwater disliked the religious right, was instrumental in removing Richard Nixon from office, and considered himself a liberal in his later years. His speech writer, libertarian Karl Hess, reportedly had Goldwater considering issues such as eliminating the draft for ethical reasons. In light of this, I was not at all surprised to read this title in Editor and Publisher: ‘NYT’ Sunday Preview: Barry Goldwater … Hero of Democrats?

Editor and Publisher reports on an article in this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine in which C.C. Goldwater reveals that “her HBO film to be aired Sept. 18 paints her late grandfather, Sen. Barry Goldwater, ‘as a kind of liberal,’ with testimonials from Al Franken, Sen. Ted Kennedy, James Carville and Sen. Hillary Clinton.”

Like or dislike Barry Goldwater, he shows how far conservatives have come as they’ve degenerated from a movement supporting freedom and small government to the current authoritarian movement dominated by the religious right. I’ve wondered how far Goldwater would have evolved had he stayed in politics in his later years when he considered himself a liberal and opposed the direction the Republicans were going in. If he had continued to guide the Republicans philosophically, perhaps they would have candidates like the fictional Arnold Vinick of The West Wing rather than George Bush.

Update: The New York Times Magazine’s interview with C.C. Goldwater is now available on line.

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  1. 1
    kj says:

    As I’ve posted previously on the Kerry blog, I came from a large, extended family that was extremely active politically… for both parties. Growing up in the 60’s made for some interesting “discussions” (my mom wouldn’t call them what they were, out-and-out arguements) around our dinner table and living room. (One argument between my aunt and uncle, brother and sister, resulted in my cousin and me being dragged 300+ miles home instead of staying together with another cousin for the whole, promised week.) The aunt that bundled us up in the car at 6 am was a staunch Goldwater supporter, the uncle was (and still is) a dyed-in-the-wool Dem who supported (and later worked in his cabinet) Johnson. Oy. The “discussions” were something.

    I would give almost anything today to know what my dad, mom and aunt thought of today’s situations. And Goldwater.

    (My aunt never gave up trying to convince me to become an Ayn Rand conservative, and gave me her set of Goldwater playing cards. I keep wondering what they’d go for on Ebay. They’re plenty used.)

    Ron, please let me know if you read John Dean’s book.

  2. 2
    kj says:

    I mean, “back in the day,” if we kids were to enter into the “discussion,” we had to not only have our wits about us but our facts about us as well. We weren’t cut any slack for our age. I was supposed to be able to argue “why” I opposed the Vietman war, why I believed in Social Security, and who Ayn Rand was and what she believed.

    My aunt refused to talk to me until I’d read “Atlas Shrugged” TWICE.

    Only my Dad was alive by the time Bill Clinton rolled around. He loved Reagan, but as any good Depression Era adult would, hated the deficit. He voted for Goldwater, but opposed the Vietnam War. I wonder what he would have thought of Boy Bush and his Iraq Folly. I remember him talking about Afghanistan… and how it would be the end of the Soviets and the US if we went in. My Dad was a history buff and was fascinated with the events of WWI, as he was just a kid when that war raged across Europe.

    Also at that (Goldwater/Johnson) time, as I remember… separation between church and state wasn’t an issue between the two parties. It was a given. No Papists or Jews! LOL

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:


    I read part of John Dean’s latest book while lying around the pool recently but fell asleep. (That’s a reflection of the little sleep I had, not on his book). I’m sure I’ll return to it soon.

    Atlas Shrugged is worth reading, but it is far too much for someone who isn’t eager to read it.

    I was too young to say from experience, but I don’t think separation of church and state became an issue until past the Johnson v. Goldwater era. (Main thing I recall from ’64 was “LBJ for USA; Goldwater for Toilet Water.”) It was Nixon who started with the moral majority, with the problem becoming much worse in recent years. (Nixon’s reelection slogan was better than LBJ’s: “Don’t Change Dicks in the Middle of a Screw–Reelect Nixon in ’72”)

  4. 4
    kj says:

    I remember the church and state issue pretty well, if only because I was a product of a “mixed” marriage… my mother Catholic and Democrat, my father athesist and Republican. All four of us kids went (endured?) the full twelve years of a Catholic school education.

    My aunt, the Ayn Rand, Goldwater, Catholic, Republican unmarried and childless one believed that everyone (even my parents who were paying for private schools) should pay taxes for public schools. She really didn’t like paying taxes, but understood that the kids she was paying for would be her doctors/etc as she got older.

    That generation had a lot of practicality about them, imo.

  5. 5
    kj says:

    (This aunt was something. If she told you to read “Atlas Shrugged,” believe me, you read it. As I got older, I loved to argue with her, even though I was always a bit afraid of her. “Gran” on Gilmore Girls comes to mind, LOL)

  6. 6
    kj says:

    The reviews on Amazon for Dean’s book weren’t exactly steller. ?

  7. 7
    kj says:


    Main thing I remember, besides being dragged away from my cousin’s, was another cousin putting a “Johnson” sticker on my Goldwater Aunt’s car. She. Was. Furious. And he was up until midnight scraping it off with a razor blade. She refused to drive home with the sticker on her car.

    God, I miss her. She was a trip. I would LOVE to hear what she had to say about Boy George. I can’t imagine she wouldn’t be ripping him to shreds.

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