The definition of ‘conservative’ or ‘right’ has changed greatly since the days of Goldwater, as Steven Hayward points out as far back as 2014.
Steven Hayward was Larry Arnn’s right-hand man at Claremont Institute in the old days. Arnn moved on to Hillsdale, while Hayward went to Pacific Research Institute and went in quite a different direction from both Claremont and Hillsdale – Pacific Research Institute is more ‘classical conservative’.
It shows my age that I actually remember all these events quite clearly. I remember Goldwater’s address and Reagan’s “Time for Choosing.” Hayward’s article dates from nine years ago, before the Tea Party had been replaced by Trumpism.
The Tea Party was an intermediate phase between Goldwater and Trump. [Actually I would argue that it was Nixon, not Goldwater, that anticipated Trump in his appeal, though I think Nixon is more intelligent and moral – despite Watergate – than Trump.] It was 2015 that Trumpism replaced the Tea Party, though Michael Lind in the Breakthrough Journal had predicted something like this the year before.
The Tea Party revived Goldwater’s rhetoric, though it was more populist than he; the fun made of the supposed sign carried by one of them, “Keep your government hands off my Medicare,” shows this. And Trumpism is fully populist. [Goldwater cannot be called populist!] Far from rejecting the welfare state, populism likes the ‘good welfare’ that goes to those who have ‘paid into’ the system or have ‘earned it’ and dislikes the ‘bad welfare’ that is means tested and goes to the ‘undeserving’; only the latter is called ‘welfare’ in their language.
There were issues also by 2014 that were not on the table in 1964: the ‘moral’ issues arising from the Sexual Revolution and the economic and ethnic ones arising from reopening the immigration door in 1965. As Hayward points out, Goldwater, like the old Republican establishment, ended up on the left side of the ‘moral’ issues, and perhaps the immigration issues as well.
These flashbacks raise questions that deserve serious consideration. Has the Republican Party lost its moral compass? Are some of its leadership waking up to reality and seeking to find it?