With Trump Candidacy, LBJ's 'Confessions of A Republican' Ad Enjoys New Relevance

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Mar 11, 2016 4:00 PM
With Trump Candidacy, LBJ's 'Confessions of A Republican' Ad Enjoys New Relevance

An old 1964 Lyndon Johnson campaign ad resurfaced over social media that has eerily applicable to this current election cycle. The ad, called “Confessions of a Republican,” features actor William Bogert, who was a Republican, speaking for about a little over four minutes about his concerns about the candidacy of then-Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ).

“This man scares me,” says Bogert, who then says he disagrees with the notion that the “White House makes the man,” even if the candidate has acted irresponsibly, or said controversial things, on the campaign trail. He mentions how he can’t discern what Goldwater was for in the 1964 campaign.

“The hardest thing for me about this whole campaign is to sort out one Goldwater statement from another,” says Bogert. “But Goldwater often you can’t – I can’t figure out just what Goldwater means by the things he says.” This is after he complimented Johnson for speaking about facts.

The ad closes with Bogert lighting a cigarette, wishing that he were a delegate at San Francisco because he would have fought against Goldwater’s nomination.

“I wouldn’t have worried so much about party unity because if you unite behind a man you don’t believe in, it’s a lie,” he says. He goes on to ask who are the people that got a hold of the 1964 convention to give Goldwater the delegates to clinch the nomination.

“When the head of the Ku Klux Klan, when all these weird groups, come out in favor of the candidate of my party; either they’re not Republicans or I’m not,” he added. Does that sound familiar?

He goes onto say they he’s thought about sitting out the 1964 election, but he can’t because that sends a signal that you don’t care who wins; and he does care. He ends by saying his party made a bad mistake nominating Goldwater, and that he will have to vote against that error on Election Day.

Now, there are a few differences. First, there are some who say that Goldwater didn’t lost the 1964 election, it just took 16 years to count all the votes. With the 1980 election, and the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, Goldwater’s conservative platform was accepted and led to a revival of the American spirit, economy, and standing in the world. Those who feared Goldwater’s politics, moderate Republicans and liberal Democrats, were probably a bit shocked that in less than two decades it had become a permanent part of American politics. Trump has made things interesting; I doubt he will have an impact that is equal to the footprint left by Goldwater. Second, it was the Cold War era. Humanity had just dodged total annihilation from the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, so when a candidate says he’s fine using low-yield nuclear weapons in Vietnam; some eyebrows were raised.

Trump and Goldwater share being victimized by the press; the Donald is being hammered for his comments about Muslims. Goldwater was criticized for his opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which he felt was unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Goldwater wasn’t for racial discrimination; he felt it was morally wrong and bad for business. He favored a concerted effort to educate the public on the wrongs of such actions, though he admitted this could take a very long time. Black Americans were not eager to take this long road, especially after the serial instances of violence and unrest in the South at the twilight of the Jim Crow era in America. It was a typical case of a good man, who was wrong about an issue. Even then-executive director of the NAACP, Roy Wilkins, said that the black community in America didn’t think Goldwater was a racist, but “they can’t go along with a man who says we ought to let what’s going on in Mississippi, be settled by Mississippi and the federal government ought to knit or do something else; this we can’t take.”

In the end, Goldwater got absolutely trounced in 1964. More than a few publications wrote about the total end of the GOP; it wasn’t. The press went on a similar “GOP is dead” after 2008. Everything is on a pendulum, and the country just may be on a left-leaning tilt right now. As Trump looks more like the nominee for the Republican Party this year, there are probably large portions of party members who feel like Bogert. The ad appears to be history repeating itself in light of the 2016 cycle.

Some Republicans will certainly stay home if Trump is the nominee, others will probably vote for Hillary. What will come out of the ashes is unknown, but, as for the primary contest, it seems with every passing day that the ship has sailed concerning stopping the billionaire magnate.