While it’s not customary to review a 57-year-old book, in this case I made an exception because its contents were far more important and tandem to our current situation as it was in 1960. It is a visionary assessment of what it means to be a real conservative.
As many of you know, Republican Senator Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964 against incumbent, Lyndon Johnson. The Democrats and media, true to form, painted him as a war monger, poised to use the atom bomb. Due to the battle fatigue many held from two back-to-back World Wars, many turned away from the traditional viewpoints and sought to re-elect Johnson. It was in this campaign the infamous Ronald Reagan speech, A Time For Choosing, aired on television for Goldwater’s campaign, which now receives much attention for its own visionary premise.
Four years prior to this ill-fated presidential run he pinned this conservative manifesto, Conscience of a Conservative which is a stirring view of what it means to be a true conservative and Constitution advocate. In it, he challenges the reader to investigate the motives behind even his fellow Republicans because not all GOPs are cut from the same cloth or hold the same convictions.
Regarding Progressive Conservatives: “This is a strange label indeed: It implies that ‘ordinary” Conservatism is opposed to progress. Have we forgotten that America made its greatest progress when Conservative principles were honored and preserved.”
As a dedicated Constitutionalist, Goldwater discusses the real concept of freedom and how “no man can be truly free if he is owned by the State.” Meaning, as long as one is getting federal money, they cannot construe themselves as truly free as government money always comes with strings attached. He’s absolutely right.
Goldwater doesn’t stop at the mere definition of true conservatism but goes much deeper into subcategories like States’ Rights, Labor Unions, Welfare, Education and Business, discussing how each is gravely impacted by large government over-reaches. Surprisingly, even in the Sixties, the Republican party had already branched off with a Progress wing, which advocated much of what the Liberals touted – full of government oversight in areas he deemed unacceptable.
One standout is Goldwater’s stance on labor unions because he dissects what went wrong. There’s a grave disconnect to the theory of unions verses the reality we face even in today’s business world. Unions became self-enriching monsters who forced political engagement and advocacy on workers through intimidation and greed. The author accentuates this situation and explains it succinctly just where it has failed both America and her working class for decades.
“The Conservative knows that to regard man as part of an undifferentiated mass is to consign him to ultimate slavery.”
While this book does date itself with discussions of Cold War, his assessment of the United Nations is still very much relevant today as we see their interference in our governance escalate with administrations like Obama’s over the last eight years. Goldwater questions whether our involvement in the UN is really feasible given their own agenda and its focus running counter to our Constitution.
Ironically, Goldwater predicts it would take a Donald Trump to turn our world back to the Constitutional course. And he warned this venture would not be easy but it was doable as long as Americans had a desire to live free. As we saw from the last election, a lot more people resonated with this dedication to our Constitution!
“The framers of the Constitution were not only students of history, they were victims of it…”
Its a shame Goldwater didn’t win the election because reading Conscience provokes fascinating possibilities as to what he would’ve done as president verses the Great Society legislation we ended up getting from the Johnson era. As any historian will tell you, the latter’s agenda (along with the two New Deals) poisoned the public well with all the trappings of entitlements and cradle to grave economics/politics – thus, enslaving many both physically and mentally to a liberal mindset which has harmed our freedoms considerably.
Every voter should read this book…
In an environment where so much of what we get from our media and politicians is rubbish, this book provides us with much food for thought no voter should ignore. In fact, it should be required reading because it explains just what it means to be truly free and living with the rights promised to us by the Constitution. It provides us with a beacon of hope as we make our way through this modern world, with all its travails and snake oil salesman promising nothing burgers filled with socialism and government plantations. It also reminds us why we should never lose America to these charlatans!
At $0.55 on Kindle, you can’t afford to miss the opportunity to enrich yourselves with wisdom from the founding fathers as seen through the 1960 lens. Inspiring, indeed.