Barry Goldwater

You cannot protect the people from the cradle to the grave.

Barry Goldwater's defiant 1964 Convention Speech Goldwater's defiant 1964 Convention speech ultimately scared off voters. Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater is perhaps the most consequential loser in American political history. The godfather of modern conservative politics in America, Goldwater lost one of the most lopsided presidential elections in American history to President Lyndon Johnson in 1964, but his message of small government would inspire a generation of conservatives, laying the groundwork for the Reagan Revolution.

The son of a Phoenix department store owner, young Barry was a handsome pilot, athlete and adventurer, winning a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1952 after just a few years on the Phoenix city council. In Washington, he built a loyal conservative following and penned, The Conscience of a Conservative, a widely read pamphlet and political manifesto during the 1960s.

In 1964, Goldwater challenged and defeated the ruling Eastern establishment of the Republican Party and its leader, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller, awaking a conservative element in his party that would prove influential for decades to come. But Goldwater would fare far less well in the general election. Bombarded by a new breed of television attack ads, including the infamous “Daisy” spot, Johnson’s campaign was able to successfully brand Goldwater as a radical en route to a landslide victory.

Goldwater would eventually return to the Senate where he served until 1987, helping to shape his party’s positions on limited government, taxes, and defense, and laying the groundwork for Reagan’s presidency and the Gingrich revolution of the 1990s. Goldwater, as columnist George Will once put it, “lost 44 states, but won the future.” He died in 1998 at the age of 89.

Barry Goldwater

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