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Useful Notes / Barry Goldwater

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In your heart, you know he's right.note 

"Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. […] I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"
— From his acceptance speech as the 1964 Republican presidential candidate

Barry Morris Goldwater (January 2, 1909 – May 29, 1998) was an American politician, statesman, businessman, US Air Force officer, and author from Arizona, representing that state in the U.S. Senate from 1953 to 1965, then again from 1969 to 1987; he held each of the state's two seats in the Senate at different times. He previously served in the US Army and Air Force during World War II and The Korean War.

Goldwater is the politician most often credited with having sparked the resurgence of the American conservative political movement in the 1960s, after he became the Republican Party's nominee for president of the United States in 1964; he was literally nicknamed "Mister Conservative" for his outspoken opposition to the New Deal consensus. Although he was raised as an Episcopalian and worshiped at churches in that denomination, Goldwater was the first ethnically Jewish candidate (his father was Jewish) to be nominated for president by a major American party. Despite his loss to President Lyndon Johnson in the general election in a landslide,note  many political pundits and historians believe he laid the foundation for the conservative revolution to follow, as the grassroots organization and conservative takeover of the Republican Party began a long-term realignment in American politics helped to bring about the victory of Ronald Reagan in the 1980 electionnote  and the "Reagan Revolution" of the 1980s. Appropriately, Reagan first became known in national politics with his "A Time for Choosing" speech, in which he endorsed Goldwater's 1964 presidential campaign. The Washington Post columnist George Will would write: "We […] who voted for him in 1964 believe he won, it just took 16 years to count the votes." He retired from the Senate in 1987 and was succeeded by Congressman John McCain, who praised his predecessor as the man who "transformed the Republican Party from an Eastern elitist organization to the breeding ground for the election of Ronald Reagan."


He was married to Margaret Johnson and Susan Shaffer Wechsler, and had four children, including Barry Goldwater Jr., who served in the House of Representatives from California from 1969 to 1983.

Goldwater died in 1998 after complications of a stroke; he was also suffering from Alzheimer's disease.


  • The Conscience of a Conservativenote  (1960)
  • Why Not Victory? A Fresh Look at American Policy (1963)
  • Where I Stand (1964)
  • Conscience of a Majority (1971)
  • The Coming Breakpoint (1976)
  • Arizona (1977, text; photography by David Muench)
  • With No Apologies: The Personal and Political Memoirs of Senator Barry M. Goldwater (1980)
  • Goldwater (1988)


In Media

Films — Live-Action

  • In the 1965 film The Bedford Incident, actor Richard Widmark plays the film's antagonist, Captain Eric Finlander of the fictional destroyer USS Bedford, who modelled his character's mannerisms and rhetorical style after Goldwater. At one point, Finlander even uses thick-rimmed glasses like those which had become a trademark of Goldwater.
  • Goldwater appears As Himself in the 1964 documentary Four Days in November. Visibly subdued, he observes, in reference to his having been ready to run against John F. Kennedy in 1964, that "He was the sort of antagonist I've always enjoyed", because JFK didn't make it personal. (Incidentally, on the subject of how LBJ trounced him, Goldwater later said he thought he lost because Americans weren't ready for a third new president in fourteen months.)


  • In Stephen King's Hearts in Atlantis, Peter still has an "AuH2O-4-USA" bumper sticker years after Goldwater's presidential campaign. He amuses himself when he thinks about driving to an anti-Vietnam War protest in that car.

Live-Action Television

  • He appears as a character in Mrs. America, played by Peter MacNeill.


  • In his song "I Shall Be Free No. 10", Bob Dylan refers to Goldwater:
    "Now, I'm liberal, but to a degree
    I want everybody to be free
    But if you think that I'll let Barry Goldwater
    Move in next door and marry my daughter
    You must think I'm crazy!
    I wouldn't let him do it for all the farms in Cuba."


  • All the Way presents him as The Ghost and implies that he is a segregationist.note