History

A Penny for the Old Guy

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Daniel McCarthy on Barry Goldwater's contested legacy:

[T]he sharpest division that split the Goldwater movement of the '60s…wasn't the division between libertarians and traditionalists, it was the division that separated idealistic libertarians and traditionalists alike, the campaign amateurs, from the campaign professionals. The conservative movement still pays lip service to economic liberty, social order, and military strength—but on all three points, Republicans have become hollow men who have preserved the rites of Goldwaterism but who long ago lost its spirit. That was an amateur spirit—in both the best and worst senses of the word—and it drew together in common cause traditionalists and libertarians as different as Brent Bozell and Goldwater speechwriter Karl Hess….

Today, nation-building and empire, together with K Street politics, is about all that animates the Republicans who claim to be following in Goldwater's footsteps. They've lost what the 1960 and 1964 Goldwater movements were really all about, and they won't rediscover what they've lost by furrowing their brows wondering if Goldwaterism was really purely libertarian or fusionist. Goldwater himself was a man of the American West, and his legacy can be claimed by either libertarians or traditionalists—if they can put the principled spirit of the old movement before the emoluments of politics.

These days the amateurs are holding Guy Fawkes fundraisers for Ron Paul, and the hollow men are sneering at their efforts. This is the way the week sounds: First came a bang, then the whimpers.

Bonus links: More McCarthy on Goldwater here. Reason on Goldwater here.