Goldwater vs Great Society

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Jack Marder
History 352
October 26, 2010

Conservative vs. Liberal

The 1964 Presidential election was an election that changed American history. For the first time since the 1932 Presidential election between Hoover and Roosevelt, the American population was able to choose a president from two candidates with opposing views and ideological mindsets. The United States was going through a time of change with protests, assassinations, and war, which caused social and political discomfort. After the assassination of President Kennedy on November 22, 1963, the country went into shock. Supporters of the charismatic Kennedy were deeply saddened feeling left without a leader with the same outlook and liberal mindset. Lyndon B. Johnson then took over the reign as President for the remaining year, hoping to carry out Kennedy’s ideologies and legislations. The following year during the 1964 Presidential race, he became the Democratic candidate, hoping to become re-elected as President. On the Republican side, Barry Goldwater was a renowned conservative, and after beating Governor Nelson Rockefeller, became the hope for all conservatives across the nation. In 1960, Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater established his conservative principles through The Conscience of a Conservative. Written at a time of great change in America with experiments in big government, the New Deal, and the climax of the Cold War, the views of Goldwater in the Conscience of a Conservative were looked at as revolutionary, yet controversial in the Republican eye. He believed and argued that freedom was the highest value in American society while also stating that compromising for something one does not believe in is unjust. In his book, Goldwater stated that he felt as though putting the power in the hands of a big government was not ideal. He believed that local small governments fit the best interest of the people. Goldwater said that we the people “can be conquered by bombs or by subversion; but we can also be conquered by neglect -- by ignoring the Constitution and disregarding the principles of limited government” (Goldwater 14). He made it known that the power of the federal government in the hands of only a few could be seriously dangerous. He wrote in his book that American people “console themselves for being in tutelage by the reflection that they have chosen their own guardians. Every man allows himself to be put in lead-strings, because he sees that it is not a person nor a class of persons, but the people at large that hold the end of his chain” (Goldwater 25). Barry Goldwater made it clear through his book that freedom was vital in American society along with small state governments to support each individual person more directly. Lee Edwards states in the article HBO Hijacks Barry Goldwater’s Ideology that Goldwater “opposed the Bigs of America -- Big Government, Big Business, Big Labor, and Big Media” (Edwards). While conservative Barry Goldwater stressed “in-state” ideologies and small governments, young adults and college students expressed their dire need for a leader. “The Port Huron Statement” was written at a Student for a Democratic Society (SDS) meeting in Port Huron, Michigan. Tom Hayden, a student at the University of Michigan, was the main leader and voice in the passionate proposal. He was a man who came from a working-class family in which honesty and justice were two main components in the way he lived his life. “The Port Huron Statement” was a manifestation of what the youth of America was feeling at the time. Most were dissatisfied with the way college administrators were trying to control their lives while others were frustrated that typical liberals were not supporting their freedom and civil rights movement efforts. They, unlike Goldwater, felt as though the federal government needed to play a much larger role in American society to dig them out of the nation’s widespread injustice. They expressed their frustration...
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