April 25, 2008 Barry M. Goldwater: Extremist Nomination After Barry Goldwater was nominated and preformed his acceptance speech many Americans decided to vote Democrat. The battle for nomination was between two men: Nelson Rockefeller and Barry Goldwater. When it was all said and done there really wasn’t a battle, but rather extermination winning 883 votes to Rockefeller’s 214. This was the last of Goldwater’s dominance in the 1964 political arena. The GOP’s decision to nominate Barry was a bad choice but it had to be done. Many critics said “that Goldwater’s nomination would cause an irreparable split, that by nominating Barry, the G.O.P., in effect, would be committing suicide in full public view” (“Cinched”). On the contrary, the split would not be as likely if he was elected compared to if he wasn’t. If Goldwater “were to be denied the nomination, there would indeed be a split, even the possibility of a third party formed by his followers. But with Barry on the very brink of victory, there was no evidence whatever that his Republican critics had enough cohesiveness to make 1964 a Bull Moose year” (“Cinched”). The critics were somewhat right, Goldwater was nominated and there was not a split but rather the biggest division since 1912. Goldwater’s nomination acceptance speech was one that went down in the record books. Goldwater had a knack for saying the wrong things. Ultimately his knack cost him the minuet chance of winning. Goldwater’s main focus in his speech was freedom. He invited “anyone who join*ed+ *them+ in all sincerity” and rejected “those who *did+ not care for *their+ 2 cause” (Middendorf II 131). He also stated covered various topics on the war in Vietnam. Stating that we were at war with Vietnam and the commander-in-chief has not told us if the goal is victory. Barry later went on saying “I could have ended the war in a month. I could have made North Vietnam look like a mud puddle” (BrainyQuote). Goldwater ended his speech with a hard blow to the GOP stating, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” (“Barry”). Goldwater also hit the topic of extremism in his speech and his last line almost totally contradicted it. Saying that extremism is ok if liberty is at stake was pretty extreme in itself. This was his statement that all but sealed his fate in the election. After the nomination, Barry took a six week vacation giving the standing president momentum. Goldwater as well as the rest of the United States knew that he didn’t stand a chance against Johnson. Within Kennedy’s shadow, Johnson had: just about everything on [his] side. The economy was strong. The nation had enjoyed over forty consecutive months of economic growth under the Kennedy- Johnson administration and all economic indicators pointed to continued growth. The gross national product was up; consumer spending was up; business profits were up; and unemployment was down, below 5 percent in the summer just before the election. The Democrats could take credit for the creation of some 4 million jobs since Kennedy’s inauguration. There was also a sense of action in Washington. (Donaldson 234) 3 Knowing this, Goldwater had to try to avoid embarrassment in November and his main theme had to be to reunite the GOP. This however was a difficult task. Because Goldwater had the tendency to say the wrong things the press went nuts bashing him every chance they got. Goldwater voiced out his opinion on the use of nuclear weapons and stopping Social Security and “was attacked by Democrats and opponents within his own party as a demagogue and a leader of right-wing extremists and racists who was likely to lead the United States into nuclear war, eliminate civil rights progress and destroy such social welfare programs as Social Security” (Barnes). Along with Barry’s poor choice of words there was also the fact that his campaign was “one of the most inept and unprofessional campaign in American political history” (The Ripon Society 18). After the San Francisco convention “Republican organizations were pleading for campaign brochures, pamphlets, bumper strips, buttons, etc., but the National Committee did not have anything” (Shadegg 186). When brochures were finally released, they contained photographs of Goldwater which gave him the impression of a stern, unrelenting, uncompromising candidate. There was also a straight-on shot of Goldwater with glasses talking with his mouth open which was named by his staff “the old snarly picture” (188). Barry started his campaign on his home front. Making the decision to move his speech ahead a day and move the time ahead two hours was a bad move. The local newspapers were not able to get him in because of his last minute decision. There was a whole four thousand people who made it to the newly planned speech out of the estimated twenty to fifty thousand. When the Democratic commercial “Daisy Spot” aired a hard blow was taken by Goldwater. In the commercial a little girl is pulling the petals off a daisy counting down. When she gets to nine a deep voice takes over and counts down to zero. The screen goes white then a nuclear 4 mushroom cloud is displayed. At the end there was a final message, “vote for President Johnson November third”. According to a poll taken a week after the first airing of the commercial, “53 percent of women and 45 percent of men believed that Goldwater would take the country to war” (Middendorf II 164). The topic of crime in the streets was one that Goldwater was putting into his speeches ever since the convention. However he was accused in using code words in his statements against street crime. In his Prescott speech Goldwater stated that wives and woman feel unsafe on the streets. Newsweek saw this as a coded message to racial tensions. But in an interview Barry denied the acquisitions and continued to add it to his speeches given in the southern and the urban northern areas. During his 2 week southern tour, Goldwater “seemed to fall into something of a self-destructive mode” (Donaldson 257). In early September he voted against Medicare and then traveled to St. Petersburg, one of the nation’s largest retirement communities, and spoke out against it. In an attempt to gain more numbers, Goldwater set up a meeting with Eisenhower which was to be caught on national cameras. They were supposed to talk casually about the nation and its problems but instead they appeared stiff and rehearsed. Even though his image was being bombed away by the press, “Goldwater continued to push a hard-line foreign policy-a policy that left the nation uneasy in an uneasy time. His stance allowed Johnson to carry the banner of peace-mostly by default” (258). In late September the Gallup poll stated that 24 percent of those polled described Goldwater as reckless. Ironically enough, in his speeches Goldwater called for a Cold War victory, even though he insisted he 5 was for peace. With all of Goldwater’s contradictions he was gaining a hated reputation and became the laughing stock of many jokes and slogans. One standup comedian claimed that Goldwater’s watch went “tock, tick” and the wound up Goldwater doll walked backwards. When October finally rolled around Goldwater’s situation wasn’t good. Looking back Goldwater stated that they couldn’t get any lower and could only go up. He was of course very wrong, for he did get lower much lower. Time reported that “Barry Goldwater creates many of his own problems. His statements are so imprecise that they lead to a wide variety of interpretations and misinterpretations” (261). Goldwater’s organization was breaking down and his party was failing to unite. His decision to pick his top officials who were most loyal over who were experienced had come back to kick him in the rear. In his final weeks, Goldwater tried to salvage himself and what was left of the ever so frail Republican Party. Things started to turn for Goldwater on October 12. LBJ’s personal assistant, Jenkins, was charged for committing homosexual acts in a public bathroom at a local YMCA. This however was short lived, LBJ covered up the incident very well, telling the press that his assistant was being hospitalized. The press stopped there due to a “quick succession of international incidents [that] put the commander-in-chief smack in the public eye [driving] the Jenkins story into obscurity” (Middendorf II 198). Goldwater eager to get an edge in the election spent a massive amount of money on TV spots. One of the most noted was when Ronald Reagan gave his speech “A Time for Choosing”. On October 30 Barry reported that according to a recent Harris poll, many Americans were now on his side on a number of issues. Still not being able to overcome his past actions this and “Unaccountably, 60 percent of *the+ 6 same respondents *in the poll+ still favored LBJ over Goldwater” (211). The poll merely showed that people were moving right of center but were still not “toward Barry the bomb thrower, the Grinch who wanted to steal Social Security” (211). From the middle of October until Election Day Goldwater was considered a goner. One farmer from Iowa switched parties claiming that: ’if the Republicans had somebody a little more level-headed, I’d vote for him, … I’m afraid for Goldwater,’ he continued, ‘I don’t know what he’d do if he got hold of the nuclear trigger, and Goldwater wants to get out of the farm programs. I hate inefficiency and waste in a growing federal government, but I don’t see how we can get along without production controls for the present’. (Shadegg 211) Goldwater never stood a chance, but he was willing to give it a shot. Much of his failure was and can be attributed to his eagerness to speak his mind and his radical options about war, social security and civil rights. He was always contradicting himself when it came to extremism, talking about how extremism is bad then later saying that we are all extremists to an extent. The election of 1964 was considered a remarkable one when millions of Republicans casted their first ever Democratic vote giving Johnson the landslide victory he was after. 7 Works Cited Barnes, Bart. "Barry Goldwater, GOP Hero, Dies." Washington Post.com. 30 May 1998. Washington Post. 15 April 2008 <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp- srv/politics/daily/may98/goldwater30.htm>. "Barry Goldwater's 1964 Acceptance Speech." 10 Apr. 2008 <http://www.nationalcenter.org/Goldwater.html>. BrainyQuote. 10 Apr. 2008 <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/barrygoldw144971.html>. "The Cinched Nomination." TIME. 17 July 1964. CNN. 10 Apr. 2008 <http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,875936-2,00.html>. Donaldson, Gary. Liberalism's Last Hurrah. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2003. Middendorf II, J. William. A Glorious Disaster. New York City, NY: Basic Books, 2006. The Ripon Society. From Disaster To Distinction: The Rebirth Of The Republican Party. New York, NY: Pocket Books, 1966. Shadegg, Stephen. What Happened to Goldwater? , Canada: Holt, 1965.
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