The Home of American Intellectual Conservatism — First Principles

December 14, 2017

REFERENCE DESK
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Goldwater, Barry
Lee Edwards - 08/16/12

Although Goldwater won only six states and 39 percent of the popular vote, he established the political fact that a conservative could win the presidential nomination. He raised public awareness of conservatism as a viable political philosophy and galvanized thousands of young people who set to work to put a conservative in the White House. They achieved their goal with the election of President Reagan in 1980.

Goldwater had not sought reelection to the Senate in 1964, but he ran and won in 1968, beginning a second career in the Senate that lasted until 1986. During those years, he rose to a position of unusual power, chairing the Intelligence Committee and then the Armed Services Committee under Reagan. He authored important legislation, especially the first reorganization of the Department of Defense in four decades.

Goldwater was an American original, a man of the west whose loyalties were to duty, honor, and country, a man of salty speech and humor who loved, as he put it, “to shoot from the lip.” He affected presidential politics more than any other losing candidate in the twentieth century. He laid a firm political and ideological foundation for the Reagan revolution and led a generation of conservatives to understand that theirs was a winning as well as a just cause.

Further Reading
  • Edwards, Lee. Goldwater: The Man Who Made a Revolution. Washington, D.C.: Regnery, 1995.
  • Goldwater, Barry. The Conscience of a Conservative. Shepherdsville, Ky.: Victory Publishing, 1960.
  • McDowell, Edwin. Barry Goldwater: Portrait of an Arizonan. Chicago: Regnery, 1964.
  • Perlstein, Rick. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001.
  • White, F. Clifton. Suite 3505: The Story of the Draft Goldwater Movement. With William J. Gill. New Rochelle, N.Y.: Arlington House, 1967.
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