Thursday, September 21, 2006


What Would Goldwater Do? Asking this question is an, in its own way, admirable way for contemporary moderate conservatives, marginalized of late but now hopefully on the rise, to "get back to the roots" of conservatism in an effort to salvage something from the debacle that is the Republican Party today.

But I have to wonder, WWGD today? At the time of his presidential run in 1964, he was pretty conservative compared to the political mainstream, so much so that many give him credit for jumpstarting the modern conservative movement. But who would he most resemble today if he were still active in politics? Those on the hard right (Allen, Frist, Buchanan) or more moderate conservatives (McCain, Chafee, Lieberman)? In today's political environment, Goldwater would likely have to adapt many of the stances moderates find so laudable merely to have a voice in the party. In another ode to Goldwater, Andrew Sullivan takes this as a given, but doesn't examine the question of whether Goldwater would stand strong or instead modify his positions in the present environment.

At any rate, I think the foolishness of speculating about WWGD today is only slightly more foolish than comparing the political positions of modern conservatives to those of Goldwater which were located in a completely different context. Any rhetorical tactic that is effective at restraining the excesses of the Republican Party from within is probably worth getting behind, but I wonder if this is any more than a tactic.

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