Au H₂O

“In your heart, you know he’s right (wing)” – World in Action looks at Barry Goldwater


At its Convention in the Cow Palace, San Francisco, on 15th July the U.S. Republican Party picked the man to fight Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 American Presidential Election. Against all the earlier odds, the outsider who suddenly came right out in front was Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona. Goldwater represented the extreme far Right of his party. He stands for talking rough and tough to the Communists. He voted against the Civil Rights bill which aims to bring equal rights to the American Negro. Goldwater’s views have alarmed a lot of people – including many American Republicans — but his supporters, not unnaturally, are fanatically “pro-Barry”. A fortnight before the Republican Party convention. World in Action, with some prescience, went West to look at the man from Arizona who had become big news for the world.

Barry Goldwater was born and bred in the West – in Phoenix, Arizona. His grandfather, “Big Mike”, came to the territory less than 100 years ago. He came out to trade with the miners, ranchers and cowboys who were opening up the West. Like all true Westerners, even today, Barry Goldwater has built himself a homestead in the wide open spaces. He has a wife and four children – two girls and two boys.

Barry Goldwater ran the family department store in Phoenix, founded by his father, until World War II, when he served in the American Air Force. He only entered big-time politics in 1952 when he became a Senator for Arizona.

Barry Goldwater

Most of Goldwater’s political henchmen also come from Phoenix. Stephen Shadegg is one of them. We asked him what he thought about Goldwater, the Westerner:

“He has an honest respect for the necessity of paying your debts. This is something we seem to have lost sight of in this country; we postpone it. He believes that every tub should stand on its own bottom, every man should sleep in his bed, and this is something that we have in the West. I think that in the more collectivized societies and in the big urban centres they’ve lost this. He has an intense interest in all people. He could not be a bystander while someone else was being involved in an unfortunate situation such as that incident we had in New York when 36 or 28 people watched while someone was being murdered. He has to be a participant, he’s an activist. Everything he does he has to do well. When he became a photographer he had to do it well enough to achieve membership in your Royal Photographic Society, and when he got in the war he had to fly an aeroplane. He was a pilot before he entered the service, but he was over age. He still managed his way round the red tape and became a service pilot and flew all during the war. In politics he’s much the same way, he s a very intense man about whatever interests him and he explores all of the possibilities – contrary to the present impression that he goes off half-cock; this is completely untrue. He’s a man who wants to examine all of the alternatives so that he can make a reasonable judgement.”

What is it about Barry Goldwater and his beliefs that appeals to his followers? Alistair Cooke, broadcaster an journalist, explained:

“I think that the appeal of Goldwater is a distortion of a very healthy impulse and it’s something that’s present in 19th century, the middle 19th century, especially out West where people who were frustrated by the congestion of cities and so on could move into open land which reached to the horizon and could stake out their own home and their own way of life and control their environment. Now the big argument inside the Republican Party is just how far you can go to control your own environment, that of your city, that of your county, that of your State, or whether the Federal Government has to move in into vast areas which are now controlled by the individual States. And I think this is a form of what you might call ‘Wyatt Earpism’. In other words, to simplify it – probably grossly – the appeal of Goldwater is the appeal of Wyatt Earp who says ‘Let me have ten minutes with Khruschev in Tombstone, Arizona at high noon and I’ll bump him off and lower taxes and everybody will be happy.’”

World in Action went with Goldwater supporters to Republican Convention in Dallas. Like many Westerners they talked about “the old frontier”. Said one man with enthusiasm, “He’s the spirit of the old frontier that we’ve always had in this country – to do something yourself rather than depend upon somebody else to do it. Like he wants to own his own business, go to his own doctor, go to his own church, take care of his own family rather than depend upon the State to do it. And this is where most people go for him because he is for the very thing that widens the frontiers of America – the reason that the English colonists came over to this country to begin with. The whole thing to me is something that goes back to the original conception of why the Constitution was first … I don’t know whether I make sense or not, but it sure feels good! I’m for him because I am in business for myself and I don’t like to be dictated to by someone in Washington on how to run my business, because I know more about how to spend my money the way I want to than someone in Washington.”

“This is the entire Goldwater concept,” said his companion, “the government is best which governs least.”

“People who make in this country 50 dollars [about $500 in today’s money, allowing for inflation – Ed] a week and are supporting a family,” went on the first man, “it’s not unusual for them to contribute anywhere from five to ten dollars [$50 to $100] a month towards Barry Goldwater’s campaign. This is how strongly they believe in individualism.”

Said a girl with them, “Well, I’m too young to vote, but I can talk loud and I can run around and call out signs and sell hats and pass out badges and do just as good even though I can’t vote.”

Those Americans who “go” for Goldwater really “go” for him all the way. One of the factors that contributed to the Senator’s surprise success has been the passionate zeal of his volunteer helpers. Eleven thousand Republicans attended this Dallas Convention – almost all of them were “Barry’s Boys” the name given to Goldwater supporters. They arrived wearing Goldwater badges and slogans “Au H₂O,” the chemical formula for gold and water.

The Republican Party, the Grand Old Party which fought the Civil War to end slavery of the Negroes, seemed suddenly to have gone to the far Right. This upheaval in the Party took many people by surprise. But it did so, Alastair Cooke explained, in a gradual way:

“What I think nobody figured on was the fact that for the first time in modern history a Republican really excited the South, and that’s because the new test of liberalism in this country is now race relations. Usually a Republican candidate isn’t going to start counting his votes in the South because they aren’t going to be any use to him the moment he starts running for the Presidency since the South is a Democratic kingdom, more or less. Now, for the first time, a Republican started with this enormous popular support – the whole of the South behind him. This gives him overwhelming power at his Convention to get his nomination. But the moment he starts running for the Presidency he’s still got to try and beat a Southerner in the White House.” At the Convention in Dallas Senator Barry Goldwater made his bid for the Southern States:

“My good friend John Tower, fellow Americans, fellow Republicans,” he said, “I’ve looked forward to this for a long, long time and I never in my wildest dreams imagined that the reception would be anything like this, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. (cheers) If anyone wants to know why and how we’re going to win the 1964, let him come here and get his answer. We’re going to win, we’re going to win because we are now truly a national party. We are no longer a party that has to write off one great section of this nation, the South, (cheers)

“From the courthouse to Congress, we’re going to concede nothing here in the South this year. For the first time in American history Republican candidates are going to contest more than 70 Congressional districts that have always been foregone by default and for the first time in the history of this country all twenty-three Congressional seats in this great State of Texas will be contested and we’re going to win them.

“I intend to lead a united party on a platform of principles, the same platform and the same principle in every part of this nation, (cheers) I mean principles of leadership, principles which will preserve our Federal Republic, principles of respect for constitutional government, for law and order. I mean principles that look upon violence in the streets anywhere in this land, regardless of who does it, as the wrong way to resolve great moral principles. (cheers) This is the way that will destroy the liberties of all our people.

“I come before you today to make no sectional appeals. The issues now confronting our nation go beyond any one section or any special interest. They go right to the heart of our destiny as a free and constitutional republic and they involve the hopes of freedom everywhere in the world, (cheers)

“The peace of the world and the defence of this nation go hand in hand. It’s the destiny and the responsibility of this nation to keep the peace and there is no other way to do it than remain as we are today, the strongest nation on earth in all ways – spiritually, morally, economically and militarily. (cheers)

“Now those of us who live away from the coast of this country are often accused of being isolationists, of wanting to close our eyes to the rest of the world. I need not remind you Texans that nothing could be further from the truth. We are not isolationists. The real isolationists are the men who can’t see beyond the ballot box, who talk and talk… (cheers) who talk and talk but fear to act, who can only mumble when the American flag is tom down and trampled on and spat upon. (cheers) You and I and millions of Americans want to hear someone speak up for America in this troubled world. (cheers) We know that the world cannot be inspired by turning out the lights in the White House. (laughter) That’s L.B.J. now – Light Bulb Johnson (laughter and cheers), and you’ll find him out in November. (laughter and cheers) We know that the real need is to turn on some light. We need more light at the White House, not less. We need more light around the world – the light of American leadership, the light of freedom.

“I intend to speak plainly about all these matters, because I have a deep feeling of responsibility that those who are coming on after me, my children, my grandchildren, and your children and your grandchildren – I have a great feeling of responsibility for a heritage that must be passed on, and when I’m gone and there’s trouble in this country I don’t want my children to point to me and say ‘If father had only said this at the right time maybe things would have been different.’ I intend to speak as I feel because I am concerned about our country and I am concerned about our world. (cheers)

“This nation today is being dishonoured. Not a single new major strategic weapon system has been introduced in the past three years. The very strength we hold is the result of the sound, resolute planning of General Dwight Eisenhower. This Administration has nothing to do with it. (cheers) And this disarming means that America stands still while the Soviet is free to advance. As we go into the 1970s, there are plans to leave us a Strategic Air Command with no new bombers, with a damaged force of old ones and with just a minimum of the strength with which it has been able to keep the peace so far. The business of the S.A.C. is peace and if you don’t allow the Air Force and the Strategic Air Command, the Air Wing of the Navy, the Army and the Marines to make progress in the air, then we are heading for trouble, and real trouble, because this power is what the Soviets understand.

“There is no magic in winning elections. There’s no secret word. There’s no certain amount of millions of dollars that must be spent. There’s no cut-and-dried television image. There’s only one way that wins elections and that’s people like you. (applause) So I implore of you, act as adults; don’t cany your grudges into the ballot boxes: carry your hearts and carry what’s good for Texas and what’s good for the United States, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican – America is our first ballot. Thank you. (prolonged cheers, applause, and singing)”

The rise of Senator Goldwater within the Republican Party caused many people to ask if America as a nation was turning away from Liberalism and moving towards the extreme right wing in the political spectrum. World in Action put this question to Alistair Cooke. “No, absolutely not,” he replied emphatically. “I think this in fact is a proof that this whole movement of the extreme Right – which by the way is absolutely minute; the Birchites, for instance, in the California local elections have had their brains beaten out – has no power whatsoever. But I think that this movement of Goldwater’s is the last exertion of the Old Frontier. You know, this is Gary Cooper running for President, and an awful lot of people would wish it could be so. Like the devotion to the Western on television, its the last gasp of individualism.”

And so in November the Man From Arizona rode to meet The Tall Texan, Lyndon B. Johnson. It was a Presidential Election very much in the tradition of The Old American West.

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