Monday, September 18, 2006

Goldwater for President

I just watched an HBO special about the life and politics of Barry Goldwater. Although most of my life I've been far left of his position on issues of government involvement in issues of social welfare, and certainly I've opposed his bent toward military might, I always believed in the truthful, principled posture he maintained about limited government in the citizen's personal affairs. Goldwater opposed the intrusion of government in issues of abortion, homosexuality, religion and the like. Once, in 1964 when he was running against Lyndon Johnson for President, he came to Tucson for a fundraiser and I heard a local interview of him on radio. I even recall where I was when I heard the interview, driving down Broadway near Park Avenue, headed west. Here's what I recall hearing:

"Senator Goldwater, what is your position on the question of legalizing marijuana?"

"Well, I'm a conservative, and on that issue my position is clear. I think that unless the government can demonstrate an evil--a tangible, danger--from any behavior, I think government should keep the hell out of it. That goes for marijuana use, or any other thing that hasn't shown to be dangerous."

That's as close as I can get to a direct quote, and my recollection is borne out by the positions Goldwater was shown on the HBO special to have held on similiar issues. Maybe now he'd be called a Libertarian, but back then he was a true conservative. And what the special pointed out at the end was this: Goldwater's views about conservative government didn't change throughout his life. What changed was the Republican Right. It's now a bunch whose beliefs Goldwater abhored. Intrusive, driven by religiosity and small-minded. All of which leads me to say: Goldwater for President.

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