The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):


  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”


Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Barry Goldwater vs. Ronald Reagan

The two heroes of the conservative wing of the Republican Party are Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. Both were the most conservative of the people contending for the nomination, Goldwater in 1964 and Reagan in 1980. But while many people point to the similarity between the two, I would like to call attention to one big difference. (And I do not mean that Goldwater lost, but Reagan won — though I think that the difference which I intend to cite probably was a big reason why Goldwater lost, but Reagan won.)

Goldwater rejected the idea of the “big tent,” while Reagan embraced it. As evidence for the first, one can point to the famous speech before the 1964 Republican convention in which Goldwater proclaimed:

Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice; moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.


His choice of an obscure Representative, William Miller, whose only special qualification for the vice-presidency was his sharing of Goldwater's extreme conservatism, accented this attitude. As I said in an earlier post:

I was one of many Republicans who did not vote for Goldwater that year — I felt I was being read out of the party, though this was my first year of eligibility to vote.


Let us compare Ronald Reagan. His choices for vice-president were diametrically opposed to Goldwater's. In 1976, when he did not really have a shot at the nomination because Gerald Ford was the incumbent, nevertheless, he appealed to the moderate wing of the party by selecting Sen. Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania, one of the best known moderates in the party at the time. Four years later, knowing he had the nomination, he picked the very person who had led the moderate opposition to his nomination: George H. W. Bush. And he kept Bush on the ticket four years afterward, and strongly backed him for the Presidency after his own Presidency was forced by the Twenty-second Amendment to terminate. Reagan's rhetoric was different from Goldwater's, too. While Goldwater, in 1964, read the moderates out of the party with his “extremism” speech, Ronald Reagan made a very different point about the moderates in the party:

"The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally — not a 20 percent traitor."


When the hard-right conservatives realize this, they will help the GOP become a majority party again.

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