After Mitt Romney came out against Donald Trump today, comparisons were drawn with the stance his father George Romney took against Barry Goldwater.
There is one fascinating similarity and that ism in addition to real concerns about some of Donald Trump’s policy positions and his comportment, the Republican elite are terrified of losing control of the party.
In 1964, liberal Republicans were vehemently opposed to Barry Goldwater’s nomination for the presidency and launched a campaign against him, labeling him a crazed extremist. One of those Republicans was George Romney, Mitt’s father.
Donald Trump isn’t Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater, who paved the way for Reagan, but he is leading a movement at a similarly unsettled time in history.
Romney avoided endorsing Goldwater in 1964 to the dismay of conservatives. When one Goldwater supporter approached Romney to request his support, according to historian Rick Perlstein, he received “nothing but a bitter stare.” The two men never appeared together.
Romney’s opposition was so strong that LBJ used his comments in an ad against Goldwater. Romney said it would lead to the suicidal destruction of the Republican party much as Mitt Romney said today that Trump’s nomination would destroy the Republican party.
We can imagine the ads the Democrats will run this election.
Romney was opposed to Goldwater’s stand against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Goldwater was one of six Republicans who voted against it despite having voted for the two Civil Rights Acts before in 1957 and 1960. His opposition was based solely on constitutional grounds.
Blacks voted overwhelmingly against Goldwater in 1964.
Throughout the 1964 campaign, Goldwater was unfairly attacked as a racist. He was called “a hopeless captive of the lunatic calculating right-wing extremists” by baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. said that Goldwater would lead the nation into “violence and riots”.
Goldwater objected to two of the Acts provisions: Title II (public accommodations) and Title VII (fair employment).
Drawing on a legal analysis prepared by Robert Bork, then a professor at Yale, Goldwater said that he could find “no constitutional basis for the exercise of Federal regulatory authority in either of these areas.” He feared that Title VII would culminate in government dictating hiring and firing policy.
As Goldwater warned, preferential treatment, or affirmative action, mandated by government became general practice. He was right!
Goldwater treated all people the same.
As a private citizen, he flew mercy missions to Navaho reservations, never asking for recognition or accepting payment. He felt that “the red man seemed as much—if not more—a part of Arizona and America as any white or black person.”
A few weeks after Goldwater was discharged from the Army in November 1945, Democratic Arizona Governor Sidney Preston Osborn asked him to organize the Arizona Air National Guard. One of Goldwater’s first recommendations, soon approved, was to desegregate the unit. Goldwater’s integration of the state’s Air National Guard took place more than two years before President Harry Truman integrated the U.S. armed forces.
During the 1990s, Mr. Goldwater spoke out in favor of allowing gays to serve in the military, and he worked in Phoenix to end job discrimination against gays. In 1994, he became honorary chairman of a drive to pass a federal law preventing job discrimination against gays.
“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,” he said. “You don’t have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay.
Goldwater was accused of extremism but LBJ turned out to be the extremist.
Donald Trump isn’t Goldwater and the opposition to him now is based on different issues, but the points of comparison are the Republican party elite are terrified of losing power and a Romney is leading the assault.
Trump is very different from Goldwater. Trump is authoritarian. Goldwater said in 1964 in his acceptance speech, “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”. He was referring to the fight against communism but it was distorted. Trump thinks problems can be reduced to “management”.
That doesn’t mean Trump can’t make us freer than Barack Obama. He’s a quick learner unlike Obama who can’t learn.