There’s a book that was written by Lee Edwards that’s essentially called the 1964 Election a Glorious Defeat for the Conservative Movement, I’m paraphrasing the title. It came out in 2005 or 2006. I was working at a Book Store part-time then and being the political junky that I am and not just interested in my politics and people who think like me. I saw the book on a table in the store and bought it. I think I still have it somewhere. The premise of it was that even though Senator Barry Goldwater only won something like 40% of the Popular Vote in that Presidential Election and won like ten States.
Barry Goldwater inspired Classical Conservatives young and from the Baby Boom Generation like Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott and other young Conservatives when. Like John McCain who I believe was in Vietnam when and Alan Simpson and many more. All these people who I mentioned by the way served in Congress at least at one level and all served in Congressional Leadership, which gets to my point. All these people consider Barry Goldwater to be a hero at least to some degree and agree with him on a lot of issues. And weren’t involved in politics at least at the Federal level at the time.
And all of these young Conservatives ended up getting involved in politics, running and getting elected to Congress and then serving there for a long time. Senator John McCain obviously is still in Congress and was originally elected to the House in 1982. Some might say that Senator Goldwater’s presidential campaign was badly run because of how badly he lost electorally. But I don’t believe that’s the main reason he ran for President at the time. Going into 1964 the chances of any Republican beating Lyndon Johnson weren’t very good. Because of President Kennedy being assassinated and the country pretty much saw President Johnson’s role to carry out President Kennedy’s agenda which he agreed to do. And I believe a lot more successfully as well.
Plus America is still in the Progressive Era of the New Deal and later the Great Society. Which is another reason why the Goldwater Campaign was important for classical conservatism. Without the 1964 Goldwater Campaign, Richard Nixon doesn’t become President in 1968 or get reelected in 1972. Ron Reagan doesn’t get elected President in 1980 or reelected in 1984. Senate Republicans don’t win control on the Senate in 1980 for the first time in 28 years and hold it for two more elections after that. Republicans don’t win control of Congress for the first time in 42 years in 1994.
All of these things happened because of Barry Goldwater, who inspired generations of Conservatives to get involved in conservative politics and run for office. At the local, state and federal levels. Despite losing forty states in 1964, Senator Goldwater managed to win states that democrats use to own. Like Alabama and Mississippi and today the Republican Party now owns the Sun Belt and the rest of the Bible Belt. A region that the Democratic Party use to own. Which is a reason why Richard Nixon won some of those States just four years later. Today’s right-winger conservative classical, theocratic and neo, owe a lot of their success to Barry Goldwater.