Friday, October 24, 2008

The Goldwaters of Arizona

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

My daughter, Molly, lived in Arizona for a decade before I moved here. A couple of years ago while she was working in hospice care, Molly asked me if I had ever heard of some guy who ran for President named Barry Goldwater. Molly had learned this antiquarian name while working with an older lady who had been one of the good Senator's last caretakers.

Barry Goldwater was the Republican candidate for President in 1964. He was solidly trounced by the incumbent President, Lyndon Baines Johnson. I remember him well. I was sixteen that summer, and I was a Goldwater supporter. That's right. Liberal old Rock was once an enthusiastic partisan for Barry Goldwater, a.k.a. "Mr. Conservative." I even gave a speech in his behalf at a high school mock political rally. (I'm actually not ashamed of that. Another Goldwater supporter that year was a 17-year-old girl in Chicago by the name of Hillary Rodham.)

Goldwater was a political freak, so outside the mainstream of American politics at the time that those who supported him were routinely were laughed at and ridiculed. A week before the election he was given a modicum of respectability through a thirty-minute television speech by an unemployed actor named Ronald Reagan. Goldwater wound up winning his home state of Arizona and five states in the cracker belt of the American south. Two years later Ronald Reagan was elected governor of California, and went on to an even better job in January of 1981. Barry Goldwater went on to serve a couple of more decades in the United States Senate before returning to Arizona for his final days.

The Goldwater family has been in the news this week talking about politics, and from their public pronouncements, they seem to be divided along generational lines similar to those that affected the Macys and the Rodhams and many other families in 1964. Senator Goldwater's niece, C.C. Goldwater, declared yesterday that she and her siblings, and most of her cousins, were supporting the candidacy of Barack Obama. She said clearly:

"Our generation of Goldwaters expects government to provide for constitutional protections. We reject the constant intrusion into our personal lives, along with other crucial policy issues of the McCain/Palin ticket."

She added:

"My grandfather (Paka) would never suggest denying a woman's right to choose. My grandmother co-founded Planned Parenthood in Arizona in the 1930's, a cause my grandfather supported."

C.C. Goldwater also said, in discussing the current campaign, that

..."the Republican brand has been tarnished in a shameless effort to gain votes and appeal to the lowest emotion, fear."

But no good deed goes unpunished, and today Barry Goldwater's son, Barry M. Goldwater, Jr., took issue with his niece, saying that she should work within the Republican party to promote the values that her grandfather stood for. He went on to declare that he supports McCain.

I'll cast my lot with C.C. Something tells me that the man who authored Conscience of a Conservative would not be pleased with the massive debt incurred by the Bush administration. I doubt that Senator Goldwater would be impressed with our Dear Leader abdicating his duty as Commander in Chief and allowing "yes" men in uniform complete latitude in conducting the abysmal war. And I don't really believe that a man whose central philosophy was that the government should intrude in people's lives as little as possible would give two damns about what people did in the privacy of their own bedrooms!

Barry Goldwater was a giant of the times. Bush, Cheney, McCain and Palin all claim to be conservatives, but they are just bungling dwarfs not fit to stand in his shadow. It is time that they all piled into their clown car and drove off into the sunset - because a new day is fixing to dawn in America!

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