The Voice in the Desert

by Patrick J. Buchanan – June 1, 1990

This essay, by Pat Buchanan, appeared in Senator Barry Goldwater’s 1990 book “The Conscience of a Conservative” (Regnery) which was originally published in 1960. Here is an excerpt from the book jacket:

Here, thirty years after its astoundingly popular first publication … the book that, in essence, elected Ronald Reagan to the White House in 1980 … The Conscience of a Conservative was written to answer the question of why a conservative nation, such as the United States, was governed by liberal policy-makers. It is Barry Goldwater’s standing call to arms for Americans who understand the supreme importance of limited and financially sound government, abiding by the law, to guarantee American freedom. New to this edition is an important introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan who demonstrates, through his own personal experience, how Barry Goldwater’s book shaped a generation and continues to speak to the latest generation of Americans…

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It was the final year of the Eisenhower Presidency.

The conservative young of the Silent Generation had joyously supported Ike in two campaigns against Adlai Stevenson, the champagne toast of the faculty lounge. But something was missing.

In 1956, the Hungarians, crying out for American help, had been abandoned, left to die under the treads of Soviet tanks. All of John Foster Dulles’s talk of “rollback” had proven to be bluster and bluff. As the bloody tragedy played itself out on the streets of Budapest, America watched, waited, and did nothing. For days it went on. We were all sickened; and the sense of frustration and failure was all the greater because Moscow had taken the risk of war, and Moscow had won. And we all knew it.

The following year, Soviet rocket forces launched Sputnik. Moscow crowed, and anti-Americans all over the world celebrated. One month later, Vanguard, carrying the tiny three-pound answer of the United States, got four feet off the ground. Film of the fireball was shown in every theater in America. Though we laughed cynically, we felt humiliated. The “Russians,” considered an ethnic joke, had made fools out of the United States.

America seemed on a downhill slide. Vice President Nixon was greeted by an angry mob in Caracas in 1958, and the recession bitten Republican Party was routed, losing 12 Senate seats and 48 in the House.

January 1, 1959, Fidel Castro led his bearded columns into Havana, and defiantly began building a Communist state, 90 miles off the Florida coast. The American Left began an endless stream of pilgrimages to celebrate the brave new world rising in Havana. In October, Khrushchev came to tour; and some of us stood across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park, maintaining a stony silence as the “Butcher of Budapest” rolled by, waving and grinning, welcomed, here, in the Land of the Free, feted at the White House by Ike himself. Realpolitk was in. Before Ike’s return visit, a U-2 spy plane, flown by Francis Gary Powers, was shot down over Sverdlovsk. Khrushchev exploited the incident to dynamite the Paris summit and berate the American President.

In September, he showed up at the United Nations, every East European party boss and Fidel Castro in tow, pounding his fist and hammering his shoe on the tables of the General Assembly.

By 1960, with world war a receding memory and affluence accepted as a permanent condition, America’s young were in search of a “cause” beyond themselves to which to dedicate their lives. “A man must share the action and passion of his time, at peril of being judged not to have lived,” Justice Holmes had written. Because ours was the fortunate generation, the first truly free to determine its own destiny, many of us took the words to heart.

Forty-three-year-old Senator John F. Kennedy was capturing America’s mood with his campaign cry of, “Let’s get this country moving again!” Across the South, black students were conducting sit-ins, supported by white liberals of the Freedom Rides. Civil Rights had become the great cause of a liberalism on the move.

But what about the Right?

Into that winter of our discontent came this slim book. The effect was electric; thirty years later, the Senator would recall it:

The Conscience of a Conservative was the college student underground book of the times. It was virtually ignored by the media, most college professors, and other liberals, who had long held a monopoly on the information flowing to the American people. That first printing was ten thousand copies at three dollars each. Eventually, more than 4 million hardcover and paperback copies were sold . . . it became a rallying cry of the right against three decades of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the liberal agenda.

I was one of those students. When Barry Goldwater strode to the podium of Nixon’s convention, to stop a spontaneous rally to put his name in nomination, roaring: “Let’s grow up, conservatives, let’s . . . take this party back–and I think we can someday. Let’s go to work,” I enlisted.

The Conscience of a Conservative was our new testament; it contained the core beliefs of our political faith, it told us why we had failed, what we must do. We read it, memorized it, quoted it. To retread it today is to recall the magic the charismatic man from the desert had for so many thousands in that Silent Generation.

Every great movement–social, political, or religious–in its infancy, is marked by militancy. Its faithful shine with a spirit of sacrifice, a willingness to accept defeat and humiliation rather than compromise principal. Its True Believers are impatient, to the point of intolerance, with the half-hearted and the half-committed. He who is not with us is against us. That is the way we were.

And that is the temper of the bugle call to battle.

Like the man who produced it, the prose remains unembellished, simple, honest, straight, true. For those of us wandering in the arid desert of Eisenhower Republicanism, it hit like a rifle shot.

With its publication, Barry Goldwater became our champion; as his campaign would become the great cause of our youth. Though 1964 would end with media mockery of The Party That Lost Its Head, no winter would abate that spring’s increase. The young conservatives, bonded and blooded in the Lost Cause of ’64, would one day change the world.

After Mr. Nixon’s narrow defeat, we knew in our hearts what the press did not dimly suspect. The Grand Old Party was ripe for the taking. So, too, was the golden boy of the Eastern Establishment, John F. Kennedy. In Barry Goldwater–that tanned, square jawed, ex-army air corps pilot with the horn-rim glasses, straight talk, and sardonic humor–we had our candidate.

Like every smug establishment, the GOP was deaf to the sound of the trudging feet of the coming revolution. Relying, as ever, on money and media power, it could not match the fervor of those who fought for the true faith. As the Goldwater irregulars began to surface in state after state, the Establishment reassured itself that, surely, Nelson Rockefeller, landslide winner in New York, possessor of one of America’s great fortunes, popular and progressive, could not be stopped. As the Establishment dozed in anticipation of its dream race between Rockefeller and JFK, we were at work.

A twenty-three-year-old graduate student at Columbia, a right-wing oddity in the premier journalism school in the country, I was a Goldwater zealot. In 1962, I led a delegation of amused and skeptical fellow students down to Madison Square Garden for the giant rally held by the Young Americans for Freedom, featuring the leaders of the movement, with Goldwater speaking last. It was the beginning of the 1960s. Outside, a huge crowd of shouting, cursing leftists had to be held back by mounted police. Crewcut versus longhair, we traded angry insults as we entered the hall. After the rally, I went over to YAF headquarters to volunteer to write press releases at night to advance the cause; and made a futile application to National Review, William F. Buckley’s brilliant magazine that was the spark of the revolution.

Like a first love, the Goldwater campaign was, for thousands of men and women now well into middle age, an experience that will never recede from memory, one on which we look back with pride and fond remembrance. We were there on St. Crispin’s Day. I have never met an old “Goldwaterite” who thought that perhaps we should have gone with Rockefeller, Scranton, or Lodge. Because the cause appeared hopeless, because the crew-cut militants of the Goldwater movement were relentlessly demonized as racist and reactionary, there were few trimmers and time-servers in the all volunteer Goldwater army. In those days, at least, the phrase “conservative opportunist” was a contradiction in terms.

All of us of that generation remember where we were Black Friday, November 22, 1963, when the bulletin came over the ticker that John F. Kennedy had been shot in Dallas. That morning, I was polishing a 1500 word opted piece for the St. Louis Globe Democrat, where I was writing editorials, predicting our movement would carry Goldwater to the nomination, and beyond. Now that JFK has been enshrined in memory by that awful act, and by those indelible days after Dallas, it has been forgotten how ineffectual, how vulnerable, he seemed in the fall of 1963.

With the squalid murder of President Diem and his brother in Saigon in early November, with U.S. complicity in the palace coup being investigated, with JFK checkmated on the Hill, with rising press resentment of his “news management” and use of wiretaps on the steel industry, with civil rights leaders openly challenging his commitment, the country was picking up on the slogan, “Less Profile, More Courage.” Victor Lasky’s scathing biography, JFK, the Man and the Myth, was a best seller, being serialized in newspapers all over America. The President was in deep trouble. Indeed, that was why he was down in Texas, trying to mend broken fences that could have cost him the state in 1964.

Because the American Right, by November 1963, was the most visible and visceral adversary of JFK, we bore the onus of the recriminations. It may not have been a “right-wing nut” who pulled the trigger, the argument ran, but the Right “created the climate.” I yet remember the stares of cold hatred from those with whom we had argued passionately over the merits of JFK. The bullet that took President Kennedy’s life mortally wounded the Goldwater movement as well.

Suddenly, politics, which had seemed so full of promise, was poisoned at the well. In his memoir, Goldwater writes that all his hope for a gentleman’s contest with Jack Kennedy, his old friend and antagonist from the Senate, vanished with the arrival of Lyndon Baines Johnson and the politics of “paranoia and cold deceit.”

Rarely has an American patriot been subjected to so savage a campaign.

An enemy of discrimination all his life, Goldwater argued that faithfulness to the Constitution was more important than even the most salutary reform that might come of restricting the freedoms the Constitution guaranteed. Discrimination is wrong, he said, but it is not the business of the Federal Government to supplant state government, or to dictate the private conduct of free, if misguided, men. With a small handful, he bravely stood up and cast a futile “no” vote on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And the vilification began.

Walter Lippmann denounced him as a “demagogue who dreams of arousing the rich against the poor, a man who would convert the Party of Lincoln into “a White man’s party,” a reactionary, “who would dissolve the Federal union into a mere confederation of the states . . . [and] nullify if he could the central purpose of the Civil War amendments and … take from the children of the emancipated slaves the protection of the national union.”

This, about a candidate who went down to the White House to ask LBJ to agree to a moratorium on any discussion of “race” in the campaign, lest the nation be further divided. Compared to the others, Lippmann, dean of American journalists, was magnanimous.

In “Thunder on the Right,” CBS linked Goldwater to the most extreme elements in America; Daniel Schorr flew to Bavaria to suggest the GOP nominee was coming to “Hitler’s onetime stomping ground” to link up with neo-Nazis. “There are signs,” Schorr said, “that the American and German right wings are joining up.”

“[T]he most irresponsible reporting I’ve witnessed in my life,” the Senator said, but the damage was done.

The first television attack ads appeared, handiwork of LBJ’s Artful Dodger, Bill Moyers. One showed two hands tearing apart a Social Security card. Another, the “Daisy Girl” ad, had a little girl picking flowers as an ominous voice counted down to zero–to a nuclear explosion and fireball in which she disappeared. Then, a voice: “These are the stakes: To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or go into the dark. We must either love each other or we must die. Vote for President Johnson on November third. The stakes are too high for you to stay at home.”

“Electronic dirt,” the Senator called it; but it was effective. Conservatives in 1964 were utterly unprepared for the savagery of the no-holds-barred campaign conducted by the Left. After their baptism of fire and crushing defeat, they would go back and study the new rules of political warfare, and the Left, which invented modern attack politics would one day cry “foul,” when their own captured weapons were turned against them.

While the Goldwater campaign was scarcely an unflawed enterprise, the portrayal of Mr. Conservative as war-monger, racist, and enthusiast of fascism was a lie, a Big Lie that convinced millions of young conservatives that the press’ claim to objectivity and neutrality in national politics was a textbook case of consumer fraud. In the campaign of ’64, conservatives acquired a distrust of the media that yet endures.

Ensconced in the “ivory tower” of an editorial page, I watched in frustration as the Senator’s campaign mistakes were exploited by the Democrats, aided by a collaborationist press which converted this patriot into a sordid caricature of a man of the Right: ignorant, cold-hearted, racist, unreflective, militaristic.

The moment came for my paper, The St. Louis Globe, to endorse a candidate. The publisher — at the directive of the paper’s owner, S. I. Newhouse, a friend of LBJ — refused to endorse either candidate. Our endorsement of Goldwater would have made no difference; its absence was a national news story, a shattering blow to campaign morale. It was not only the 300,000 readers of The Globe in the bi-state area who were stunned; the paper was then among the most stalwart conservative voices in America. What we were saying to Missouri, Illinois, and America was that Senator Barry Goldwater, whom we had championed for years, did not merit solid support in November. Conservatives could, in good conscience, take a walk, or vote for LBJ.

As the publisher flew off to Chicago, I took the phone calls from the bitter, the enraged, the broken-hearted. For days they came. Inescapable was the sense that we were behaving like the other turncoats, the Rockefeller, Javits crowd, all of us lacking the moral courage to go down to defeat with a man who had won the nomination fair and square. We had bailed out; we had cut and run. Observing the one-sided brawl from the press box, I made a promise: Next time, I would be down on the field.

Senator Goldwater was crushed, politically and personally; he would never again consider national office. But his defeat, like the receding of the Nile, left layers of fertile soil on the banks of our national politics.

Conservatives had captured the party; they had done it with ideas; they had recruited a national movement; they had battle tested thousands of young men and women who would play larger roles in coming decades. And 1964 had begun the political career of a transplanted Texan, George Bush, who headed up the Harris County committee for Barry Goldwater; and it launched a second career for a faltering actor named Ronald Reagan.

Stunning in its breadth and depth, the Goldwater defeat drove the conservative movement back to the catacombs; the news media wrote us off and laughed us off.

The GOP was left with but two visible national leaders.

The first was George Romney, who had put distance between himself and Goldwater; the second was Richard Nixon, who had campaigned for the Goldwater-Miller ticket as hard as the nominee himself. I decided Nixon was the man. So, too. had Mr. Conservative. In January 1965, he told Nixon privately that if Dick Nixon ever needed Barry Goldwater for another run at the GOP nomination, he would be there. By December 1965, I, too, was there, having signed on with Richard Nixon after an arranged midnight meeting in the kitchen of premier conservative cartoonist, Don Hesse, in Belleville, Illinois.

The former Vice President had set his sights on a great GOP comeback in 1966, but he was also looking over the horizon. The most acute mind in American politics needed no tutoring to read the new balance of power in the GOP.

In 1960, Nixon had traveled to New York to sign the Treaty of Fifth Avenue with Nelson Rockefeller; by 1965, the old establishment that Rockefeller represented was dethroned, and the revolution was in power.

Moving quickly, but quietly in 1966 and 1967, the former Vice President began to line up Senators Goldwater, Tower, and Thurmond, and to win the support of columnists William F. Buckley, Jr., James J. Kilpatrick, John Chamberlain, and a dozen others. Before Ronald Reagan ever appeared on the radar screen of national politics, Nixon had already assembled his armada of conservative support.

But, as Nixon moved inexorably toward the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States, a sea change had taken place in American politics.

In 1960, the difference between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, was narrower than today. Indeed, so close were JFK and Nixon in their campaign promises that Arthur Schlesinger felt compelled to produce a campaign book, pointing up the differences. In the 1950s, Americans agreed about what the Good Society was; we disagreed over how to reach it. We knew who our enemy was; we disagreed over how to wage the Cold War.

Senator Goldwater, to the right of Nixon, was a Robert Taft conservative. He sought a retreat of federal power from duties that belonged to states, cities, communities, and citizens; he wanted an end to federal interference in agriculture, housing, education, and civil rights. But in fighting the Cold War, he wanted the United States to go onto the offensive, to end the struggle between Communism and the West in a victory for freedom.

These were the battle lines of 1960; in this book, they are drawn clearly and sharply. But, in the crucial decade that followed, a schism of the soul opened in America. Suddenly, the battle lines of politics were extended through the culture. Suddenly, we not only disagreed about how to wage Cold War, but about whether America was a good country serving a moral purpose in the world.

As we marched deeper and deeper into Vietnam, a militant New Left gathered strength, declared traditional patriotism to be disloyalty to a higher ideal, and attempted a takeover of the Party of Truman, LBJ, and JFK. Not only was our involvement unwise, they said, we were fighting a dirty, immoral war. Suddenly, in peace demonstrations, there appeared the Viet Cong flags of an enemy that was then ambushing and killing U. S. troops.

The civil rights movement, too, had changed. While it had won the nation’s allegiance to the ideal of equal opportunity and equal rights, suddenly it had a new agenda: Black Power and equality of result, a socialist ideal.

Compulsory integration of the public schools must be brought about by court-ordered busing if necessary, black leaders insisted; there must be full integration of neighborhoods, through the use of subsidized housing. Desegregation is no longer enough. Blacks are entitled not only to equal opportunity, but an equal share of jobs. If quotas must be used in hiring and promotion, and racial set-asides in government contracts, so be it. Americans who had united on the old agenda of civil rights parted company once again.

By 1968, the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Warren, had unleashed a social revolution, striking down state laws against pornography, tilting the legal system toward criminal defendants, ordering prayer and the Bible out of public education, and, one day soon, converting abortion, a universal crime in the 1950s, into a newly invented constitutional right.

The depth of the division was everywhere visible. I yet recall taking off on a night flight from La Guardia to Logan, with Richard Nixon, February 1, 1968, to enter New Hampshire’s primary, as word came of a surprise Tet offensive across South Vietnam. Before the primaries were over, LBJ, his presidency broken, had announced he would not run again; Martin Luther King, Jr., had been assassinated in Memphis; the worst riots in U.S. history had gutted 100 American cities; campus revolts closed down Columbia and a dozen colleges; Robert F. Kennedy had been murdered in Los Angeles. Sent by Richard Nixon to be his observer at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, I watched the party come apart in the street below, with Dick Daley’s cops beating the demonstrators who had provoked them night after night. Meanwhile, other boys, by the hundreds, were coming home in body bags, to be buried in the small towns of Middle America.

America’s division was reflected in a presidential election that left Republicans and Democrats each with 43 percent of the vote, with 10,000,000 voters bolting to George Wallace, segregationist Governor of Alabama.

Much of the national press had defected to the revolution, to the counter-culture, to the black militants, to the anti-war movement, as America’s second civil war was fought out–inside the Democratic Party.

Ethnic Democrats–Irish, Poles, Italians, Balts–from northern cities, whom some of us in the Nixon campaign had courted for three years, were being herd-driven into our corral by demagogic assault from the radical Left. Catholics who had given Jack Kennedy 80 percent of their votes in 1960, and Southern whites who had remained loyal to Adlai Stevenson, were being branded “gun nuts,” “racists,” “rednecks,” “Bubbas,” “reactionaries,” and “kooks,” for not embracing the new agenda. We could not believe our luck. Called Social Conservatives, they came over, by the millions.

While economic conservatives who believed private enterprise was the locomotive of progress had always been Republican, anti-Communists and social conservatives had belonged to both parties. Harry Truman would have been no more comfortable with Gay Liberation than Spiro Agnew was; JFK and LBJ carried anti-Communist credentials that matched those of Eisenhower and Nixon.

The Emerging Republican Majority of Kevin Phillips’ depiction, which swept 49 states in 1972, however, suddenly hit a reef called Watergate. With the resignations of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, and the recession of 1974, the New Majority coalition was broken, and the conservative tide that was carrying the GOP to majority party status, broke, and, temporarily, receded.

In retrospect, the GOP’s defeat in 1976 was among the most fortunate of events in the history of conservatism. With Mr. Carter’s capture of the White House, with liberals, from 1977 to 1981, holding all seats of power, from Congress to the courts, from the bureaucracy to the media, the stage was set for the ideological showdown of 1980. Perfect casting came, with the GOP’s decision to nominate the man who had succeeded Senator Goldwater as Mr. Conservative.

So it was that twenty years after this book appeared, Ronald Reagan took his oath, looking west as he delivered his inaugural address. Without the man who wrote The Conscience of a Conservative, and the movement it inspired, there would have been no Conservative Decade.

Looking back in 1990, the question needs answering: Did we keep the faith?

Following Goldwater’s counsel, Ronald Reagan moved beyond containment to a Reagan Doctrine of rolling back the Communist Empire from its most vulnerable outposts in Grenada, Nicaragua, Angola, Afghanistan. By 1990, Communism was in collapse in Eastern Europe and in retreat around the world. Conservatism triumphed.

Guided by senior adviser and later Attorney General Ed Meese, President Reagan began the recapture of the federal courts for constitutionalism. By 1990, with his vice president now his successor in the White House–there in part because Barry Goldwater had gone to New Hampshire in George Bush’s hour of need, to endorse his old Harris County chairman–the day seemed not too distant, when, with the departure of octogenarian justices Brennan, Blackmun, and Marshall, a Rehnquist-Scalia Supreme Court would become reality.

In tax policy, Ronald Reagan did not take the nation all the way to a flat tax, which Barry Goldwater had urged, but he took us further than critics thought possible, rolling back federal income tax rates from 70 to 28 percent, igniting the longest peacetime expansion in U.S. history.

We failed utterly, however, to check the growth of government. Federal spending yet consumes more than one-fifth of the nation’s Gross National Product, and, since Barry Goldwater wrote this book, the federal government has created no fewer than five new cabinet departments: Housing and Urban Development, Transportation, Energy, Education, and Veterans’ Affairs.

“The Federal Government,” the Senator had written, “has moved into every field in which it believes its services are needed. . . . The result is a Leviathan, a vast national authority out of touch with people, and out of their control. This monopoly of power is bounded only by the will of those who sit in high places.” Leviathan survived the Reagan Revolution.

Where Senator Goldwater had castigated an Eisenhower-built Department of Health, Education and Welfare consuming $15 billion a year, the budget for its successor agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, is now $300 billion; and the nation’s debt approaches $3 trillion.

Among the “great evils of Welfarism is that it transforms the individual from a dignified, industrious, self-reliant spiritual being into a dependent animal creature without his knowing it,” Goldwater wrote. “There is no avoiding this damage to character under the Welfare State.” Perhaps 20 million Americans now occupy a federal plantation which has also survived the Reagan Revolution. And, black America, special target of LBJ’s War on Poverty, now experiences levels of crime and violence, alcohol and drug abuse, teen pregnancy and suicide, destitution and despair, unimaginable in the 1950s. The altruists who launched the Great Society visited more social damage on black America than did segregation or the Depression.

Believing in Jefferson’s “natural aristocracy,” the Senator had special scorn for the social levelers: “Subscribing to the egalitarian notion that every child must have the same education, we have neglected to provide an educational system which will tax the talents and stir the ambitions of our best students and which will thus insure us the kind of leaders we will need in the future.” What America’s schools once did, Japan’s schools now do.

In many ways, conservatives served America well, but we accepted truces in too many battles, we surrendered, outright, on too many fronts. Ours is, thus, an unfinished revolution.

And, during the conservative decade, the schism in America’s soul deepened, manifesting itself in new conflicts.

We see it in violent disagreement on Central America, where revolutionary Marxists seek to impose their rule on 25 million people, and, one day, to bring their revolution home to the “belly of the beast.”

We see it in the fading away of the Free Society–where men advanced on ability, merit, and performance–and the substitution of a spoils system where jobs and contracts are contingent on handicap, race, and sex.

We see it in a self-indulgent hedonism among the affluent and the young, that makes us wonder whether America is going the way of Rome, that raises the question of whether we are still a good country, as well as a great one. “Men have forgotten God,” Solzhenitsyn wrote of his beloved Russian people; it is too true today of Americans. For that, government has no answer.

And the old challenges remain:

Forty-five years after Hitler perished in his bunker, we have 300,000 troops defending rich, prosperous Western Europe. Thirty years after Barry Goldwater told us to get out of the business of international welfare, we shovel out $15 billion in annual foreign aid to failed socialist and Marxist regimes. We still put the full faith and credit of our empty Treasury and our status as a debtor nation behind the bad loans of globalist bureaucrats.

In this sermon of fire and brimstone that is The Conscience of a Conservative, Barry Goldwater had the answers, if only we had followed his wise counsel.

“The turn will come,” he had written, “when we entrust the conduct of our affairs to men who understand that their first duty as public officials is to divest themselves of the power they have been given. It will come when Americans . . . decide to put the man in office who is pledged to enforce the Constitution and restore the Republic. Who will proclaim in a campaign speech, ‘I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new pro grams but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution.”‘ The marching orders of 1960 remain wise counsel for 1990.

Looking back, those of us who believed in Barry Goldwater have nothing to regret, and much to be proud of. We did indeed lose in a cause that would one day triumph. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive/But to be young was very heaven!” Wordsworth wrote of an earlier revolution; it was also true of ours.

What became of the other “causes” of the 1960s?

The civil rights movement would triumph, but, today, it has degenerated into a clamorous special interest demanding racial preference. The sexual revolution would gutter out in the epidemics of herpes and AIDS. The “peace” movement would give us Cambodia and the boat people. The feminists would enter the new decade championing the cause of unrestricted abortion and lesbian rights.

Written off as the Indian summer of Taft Republicanism, a politics of nostalgia, our movement proved the more enduring.

Twenty years after Barry Goldwater wrote this book, we took over the U.S. government, and restored the nation’s might and morale.