If you have never read about or heard Barry Goldwater, you are missing out. He was a Republican Senator in Arizona and the Republican Presidential nominee in 1964. Nicknamed "Mr. Conservative", he represents what the Republican Party should have been before selling out to the Religious Right - a party dedicated to small constitutional government, equal opportunity for all, free markets and individual liberty. He has become a libertarian hero for his dedication to these principles even as the Republican Party moved closer to the Evangelicals and abandoned its core mission to keep our citizens as free from the constraints of government as possible. Here are some quotes I think you will enjoy.
On the Religious Right
"The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.
I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.' "
--Speech in the US Senate (16 September 1981)
"Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them."
--Said in November 1994, as quoted in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience (2006)
"I think every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass."
--Said in July 1981 in response to Moral Majority founder Jerry Falwell's opposition to the nomination of Sandra Day O'Connor to the Supreme Court, of which Falwell had said, "Every good Christian should be concerned." Time Magazine, (20 July, 1981)
On Gay Rights
"The big thing is to make this country, along with every other country in the world with a few exceptions, quit discriminating against people just because they're gay. You don't have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. And that's what brings me into it."
"Having spent 37 years of my life in the military as a reservist, and never having met a gay in all of that time, and never having even talked about it in all those years, I just thought, why the hell shouldn't they serve? They're American citizens. As long as they're not doing things that are harmful to anyone else... So I came out for it."
“Gays and lesbians are a part of every American family. They should not be shortchanged in their efforts to better their lives and serve their communities. As President Clinton likes to say, ‘If you work hard and play by the rules, you’ll be rewarded’ and not with a pink slip just for being gay.”
On True Conservatism
"What I was talking about[Gay rights, Abortion]was more or less 'conservative,' " Goldwater recalls, saying he was smeared by the people around President Johnson – "the most dishonest man we ever had in the presidency." Goldwater continues: "The oldest philosophy in the world is conservatism, and I go clear back to the first Greeks. ... When you say 'radical right' today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye."
Bill and Hillary Clinton
"On Hillary Clinton, who was an ardent Goldwater supporter in 1964: 'If he'd let his wife run business, I think he'd be better off. ... I just like the way she acts. I've never met her, but I sent her a bag of chili, and she invited me to come to the White House some night and said she'd cook chili for me. Someday, maybe.' "
--"Barry Goldwater's Left Turn", Washington Post, 1964