Poor Barry Goldwater.
Had the Arizona senator left out two searingly memorable lines in his presidential nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in 1964 — “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! Let me also remind you that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” — his speech would be universally remembered as the launch pad for the near half-century run of conservative dominance in American politics.
Instead, those two lines in his speech are remembered as the frozen O-rings that led to the explosive electoral disaster Republicans suffered in the fall to LBJ and congressional Democrats.
Goldwater laid out traditional Republican, and therefore American, values of how freedom and diversity go hand-in-hand, not in conflict with each other.
We all benefit from diversity and unity but it has to be bathed in freedom. Not in the false notion pushed by Joe Biden and progressive liberal Democrats of forced equity and “unity” enforced by socialism. We would all benefit, it seems, from another look at Goldwater’s speech, abridged below:
Because of this Administration we are a world divided. We have lost the brisk pace of diversity and the genius of individual creativity. We are plodding at a pace set by centralized planning, red tape, rules without responsibility, and regimentation without recourse.
Rather than useful jobs in our country, people have been offered bureaucratic make-work; rather than moral leadership, they have been given bread and circuses; they have been given spectacles, and they’ve been given trillions of taxpayer dollars to stay at home instead of going back to work.
There is violence in our streets, aimlessness among our youth, anxiety among our elderly; and virtual despair among the many who look beyond material success toward the inner meaning of their lives.
Those who seek to live your lives for you, to take your liberty in return for relieving you of yours, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen, must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for divine will. This nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom.
Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. Let me remind you they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyranny.
Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality. Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, leads first to conformity and then to despotism.
In our vision of a good and decent future, free and peaceful, there must be room for the liberation of the energy and the talent of the individual. Otherwise, our vision is blind at the outset.
We must assure a society here which, while never abandoning the needy, or forsaking the helpless, nurtures incentives and opportunity for the creative and the productive.
We see and cherish diversity of ways, diversity of thoughts, of motives, and accomplishments. We don’t seek to live anyone’s life for him. We only seek to secure his rights, guarantee him opportunity, guarantee him opportunity to strive, with government performing only those needed and constitutionally sanctioned tasks such as securing our national defense which cannot otherwise be performed.
Balance, diversity, creative difference — these are the elements of Republican equation. Republicans agree, and Republicans agree heartily to disagree, on many of their applications. Anyone who joins us in all sincerity, we welcome. Let our Republicanism be so focused and so dedicated that it is not made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels.
The beauty of the very system we Republicans are pledged to restore and revitalize, the beauty of this federal system of ours, is in its reconciliation of diversity with unity. We must not see malice in honest differences of opinion so long as they are not inconsistent with the pledges we have given to each other in and through our Constitution.
Our Republican cause is not to level out the world or make its people conform in computer-regimented sameness. Our Republican cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world.
Ours is a very human cause for very humane goals.
*speech slightly adapted, modernized and shortened from original 1964 speech given at the Cow Palace in San Francisco