There is a cancer growing on the Republican Party. Extremism. Extremism does not win national elections. Senator Barry Goldwater only won 6 states and 52 electoral votes in the 1964 presidential election.
Winning the nomination was one serious fight in the GOP. Despite that Goldwater’s allies led by F. Clifton White started early and were organized at the precinct level. There may be a lesson here for main stream conservative thinking about the 2016 nomination. Teddy White in his national bestseller “Making of the President 1964” provided an excellent account of the battles.
Even before the outcome of that election Goldwater set the stage in his Cow Palace convention acceptance speech for continuing the fight. He made the infamous statement, “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” The battle continued between extreme elements of the Party and the more moderate thinking.
Fortunately, former Vice President Richard Nixon still loved by most Republicans got into the 1968 campaign early, won the nomination and the extremist went under cover. In subsequent presidential elections responsible conservatives like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were nominated and elected.
Our party faces significant decisions if it is to win another presidential election, let alone in 2014, hold the U. S. House of Representative and take over the Senate in Washington.
Those decisions include rejection of the Tea Party’s scorched earth strategy, strengthening the hand of moderate leaders and finding a presidential nominee who knows the importance of working with others.
This is not something which can wait. Republican activists on a national, state and local level need to begin to think about the consequences of their actions.
“As the founder of modern Republicanism Barry Goldwater found out, extremism in the pursuit of one’s goals isn’t popular with the American public.” (1)
(1) Brandt Ayers, publisher Anniston Star in Alabama