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What Would Barry Goldwater Do?

If there was ever any lingering doubt that the whole rotten political establishment is as useless as putting a milk bucket under a bull, the Debt Ceiling Goat Rodeo we have just witnessed in Washington and S&P’s downgrading of America’s credit should remove that doubt altogether.

But the question is, where do we go from here? And who will step forward to lead us out of the mess that same establishment created?

As the president’s poll numbers continue to plummet and with the Republican debate in Ames, Iowa this week it’s good question to ask.

Every Republican candidate invokes Ronald Reagan and tries to fill the big boots he left behind. But the boots are just too big to fill. Many Republicans as well many independents long for his return or at least a reincarnation of him.

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but he ain’t coming back folks and we need to let him rest in peace.

But if we were able to resurrect someone from the past or at least their ideals and words, my choice would be Barry Goldwater, the man who in the election of 1964 sacrificed himself on the barbed wire of the political battlefield so that Reagan could jump over him and lead the conservative forces to victory 16 years later.

Without Goldwater there would not have been a Ronald Reagan.

Who was Barry Goldwater?

Goldwater was a true son of the West who was born in Arizona while it was still a territory. He was a businessman and Brigadier General in the Air Force reserve with a lifelong love of flying. He believed in rugged individualism, self-reliance, strict adherence to the Constitution, and limited government. But most of all he believed in freedom.

He didn’t have his words or actions poll-tested or focus grouped. He wasn’t some air blown pre-packaged talking point spouting politician.

He was the genuine article. When he said something he meant it and sometimes it got him into trouble. But he never issued clarifications or apologies after the fact like the weasel politicians do today. He spoke his mind and stood by his words.
The Tea Party in some ways represents the Goldwater forces of 47 years ago. Like him they are fighting against both the Democratic establishment but also the establishment in the Republican Party.

Just like Barry they want to change the way Washington does business not become a part of the entrenched “go along to get along” culture that pervades the nation’s capitol.

They have been told to be patient and be good soldiers as the old bulls make bad deals that fundamentally won’t change a thing and only preserves the old order.

And just like Goldwater, they have been vilified as extremists by both the establishment elitists in the Democrat Party and their handmaidens in the mainstream media. Meanwhile the establishment elitists in the Republican Party, who attend the same Georgetown cocktail parties, silently nod their approval, forgetting that without the Tea Party’s energy and votes they might not be the majority in the House.

Like the Tea Party, Goldwater believed in lower taxes but he believed that before you cut taxes you need to cut spending.
President Obama has called for higher taxes and shared sacrifice. He says “everyone must chip in” because “it’s fair”. But he only wants one part of America to pay more—the hated rich.

A fair tax system would require everyone to pay something. We cannot continue to ask one part of society to pay most of the taxes while 45% pay nothing at all.

As Goldwater said, “Every citizen has an obligation to contribute his fair share to the legitimate functions of government.”

But Goldwater openly questioned what the legitimate functions of government were just as the Tea Party does today. He believed in eliminating government programs that didn’t work or weren’t derived from the authority laid out in the Constitution.

In 1964 President Johnson was a big government Democrat who cut his teeth in FDR’s New Deal. In his campaign he promised something for everyone in what he later billed as his Great Society.

With the entrenched Republican establishment not lifting a finger to help and privately rooting for his defeat, Goldwater, with his message of limited government, economic freedom and individual rights and responsibilities, was doomed from the start.

But even knowing this he carried on because he believed that the message needed to be delivered and that unlike the politicians of today it was not all about him. It was about the future of the Republic.

Goldwater’s campaign slogan was, “In your heart you know he’s right.”

America didn’t think he was right in 1964 and they were not ready to listen to his message.

After the recent spectacle in Washington, I think they are ready to listen to the message now.

But who will deliver it?

Patrick Dorinson blogs at "The Cowboy Libertarian" and he can be heard on a radio program with the same name on Sundays, from 3-5 p.m. PT on KFBK radio.

Patrick Dorinson is a radio talk show host and commentator who goes by the name"The Cowboy Libertarian." He can be heard on a radio program with the same name Saturdays, from 5-6 p.m. PT on Clear Channel's KFBK radio in Sacramento, California.