In 1964 Lyndon Johnson crushed Republican conservative Barry Goldwater to win re-election for the Presidency of the United States. Johnson surpassed the previous record, held by Franklin D. Roosevelt, by winning 61 per cent of the popular vote. He carried 44 states and accumulated 486 electoral votes.
Goldwater could not overcome such labels as demagogue, extremist, fascist, and most notable a war monger “who was likely to lead the United States into a nuclear war.” His most famous and perhaps most misunderstood quote came during the GOP convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. He declared “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and … moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” Thus he was branded forever as the candidate of EXTREMISM.
He later came to clarify his position as meaning that “wholehearted devotion to liberty is unassailable and that halfhearted devotion to justice is indefensible.” Unfortunately no one ever reads the clarification. The liquid mercury was out of the thermometer and there was no putting it back.
Perhaps Goldwater’s most dramatic contrast with Johnson was his criticism of the Government’s “no win” policy in Vietnam. He was a strong advocate of a dramatic escalation of American troops, bombing Hanoi and laying mines in the harbor of Haiphong. Outrageous, radical, worthless shedding of American blood, his opponent and the mainstream media declared. Johnson called Goldwater a “raving ranting demagogue… who wants to tear down society.” Those were charges that Goldwater’s own GOP opponents had already leveled against him in the primary. Was it any wonder that Goldwater’s election results were so disastrous?
My neighbor Bob moans, even to this day, about his being a Goldwater supporter. “I was warned,” Bob said, “that if I voted for that EXTREMIST we would sink deeper into Vietnam, that we would abandon President Kennedy’s limited advisor commitment and that thousands of American boys would die in a faraway land “doing the job Asian boys should do.”
“Sure enough” Bob continued, “I voted for Goldwater, the EXTREMIST, and the Kennedy strategy of 16,000 advisors was thrown out the window to make way for 2 ½ million U.S. soldiers/personnel ultimately deployed, 58,220 U.S. casualties and over 300,000 wounded. We bombed in the North and laid mines in the harbor. How could I have been so foolish to cast my vote for that EXTREMIST?”
For Bob it’s deja vu, all over again.
Bob has always said that America needs a woman President. This past November gave him an opportunity to put his money where his mouth was. It was Hillary all the way.
As most are aware I took no sides for most of the campaign. I remained at arm’s length on radio, television and even in my blog “It’s All About Money”. That however did not stop me from coming down hard on all the candidates. However, I felt compelled to point out a few facts to my neighbor that just might change his mind.
“Don’t you realize,” I said, “that if you vote for Hillary the obsolete NATO will be emboldened to bring us closer to nuclear war, that the Federal Reserve and Janet Yellen will continue to be allowed to make a shambles of our economy and our currency, that Wall Street and especially Goldman Sachs will take almost total control of the White House, that we’ll sink deeper into the Middle East quagmire and send more “advisors” into harm’s way, that our relationship with Russia will deteriorate to a level not seen since the cold war, and that terrorist supporting Saudi Arabia, a major contributor to the Clinton Foundation, will emerge a significant player in our foreign policy?”
Bob answered back, “I suppose the Military Industrial Complex will be ecstatic and the defense stocks will go to all-time highs also. Of course they will, haha.” I couldn’t change Bob’s mind. He cast his vote for Hillary.
“It all came true,” Bob said over coffee today, “just like you predicted.”
As he was leaving I thought I heard him mutter “but I thought, Barry and Hillary…never voting again” and something about “not being able to get it right.”
“But I thought,” rang hollow in 1964 and it seems to be even hollower now.