Bill Murchison

I've just now figured it out -- the right conservative candidate for these confused and disturbing times. I'm voting for Barry Goldwater, and nothing can stop me. Save -- I admit -- the inconvenience of Barry's residence in a venue other than the land of the living.

Still, I want to suggest to perplexed conservatives sorting through the credentials of Romney-Huckabee-Giuliani-Thompson-Paul-McCain that no one matches in substance and appeal the man who, in our hearts, we knew to be right: Barry himself. I want to suggest this not by way of whomping up some sentimental pilgrimage back to ye olden tyme. I suggest Barry as a model for the principled conservatism so many seem to seek vainly and despondently. Those Republicans, for instance, who can't figure out what the Republican message is or should be.

"The Republican Party," asserts Rich Lowry of National Review, "has run out of intellectual steam and good ideas." That's a preposterous state of affairs. Good ideas, as opposed to useful legislative enactments, never decline in potency.

Our guy Barry knew as much. Our guy -- whom Lyndon Johnson imagined he had disposed of in '64, only to find Barry's ideas taking up more and more space in politics -- knew clearly enough what he was about. Freedom was what he was about -- "the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order."

That's from p. 13 of "The Conscience of a Conservative," which was the Goldwater movement's philosophical charter. Barry didn't write the book himself. He did something better: He thought it through. He concluded that the challenge for conservatives was "to preserve and extend freedom." He wanted not to expand government but to shrink it. He yearned to hear a presidential candidate say, "I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden."

Wow! So even young Hillary Rodham must have exclaimed while working as a Goldwater Girl in the '64 campaign -- the best thing Mrs. C. ever did, unless she should do a better one by renouncing politics.

Bill Murchison

Bill Murchison is the former senior columns writer for The Dallas Morning News and author of There's More to Life Than Politics.
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