The Goldwater Slander
Many in the media and academia engage in a persistent slandering of Barry Goldwater. Why? They claim his opposition to federal civil rights legislation took the party away from its historical roots of progressive activism on behalf of African-Americans. But did it?
Goldwater was for civil rights legislation – but at the state level.
Franklin Roosevelt had the exact same ideas about federal anti-lynching laws. He felt to be accepted the laws had to come from the states. Roosevelt also needed the Solid South to get his New Deal legislation passed.
African-American voters began to flock to the Democratic party in 1936. The appeal of the New Deal drove African-Americans to FDR and they never really left.
In the 1950s, Ike enforced Brown v. Board and Vice President Richard Nixon became the leading progressive spokesperson for civil rights in the government. Nixon would later desegregate a vast majority of Southern schools using cabinet level committees from the states and not the fist of the federal government. He did this peacefully despite constant threats of violence from Democrats like George Wallace. JFK and LBJ ignored this issue. It was left to Richard Nixon to help revive hope for the Great Society in 1970.
Despite the GOP achievements listed above – they never came close to winning the Black vote.
Nobody had a chance to defeat LBJ in 1964. It was the late JFK running in 1964. Had voters known LBJ would send over 500,000 souls to Vietnam in just four years the election might have been closer. But they did not know.
Let’s stop blaming Barry Goldwater for following the lead of FDR. LBJ won six Confederate states in 1964 and Democrats won six again in 1968. When the South finally went more heavily to the GOP it had little to do with race and more to do with national security, war policy and its natural conservative roots.
Why the racist charges against Mr. Goldwater? Is it because the Great Society promised us by LBJ went up in flames?