Many say that the face of the GOP began the inexorable change and shift to the right in 1964, when Barry Goldwater ran for the Presidency. Goldwater represented the new face of the party, the hawkish face – and to some, the extremist face. The 1964 Republican Convention saw the last vestiges of the Liberal wing of the party, that wing which consisted of Nelson Rockefeller, William Scranton and Jacob Javits and those who opposed the candidacy of Goldwater, believing the ticket, which included William Miller as vice-President, did not embrace the party as a whole, but rather a small but vocal right-wing minority. But the shift was set in motion long before that – some site the 1962 off-year election as the harbinger of things to come two years later. While others went back to 1954, citing the anti-Eisenhower wing, which included the small-but growing John Birch Society and ideologues like Cleon Skousen, sowed the seeds for this shift away from the principles of the party of Lincoln into extremist territory.
The disastrous loss of the ’64 election produced intense division within the party and a struggle ensued which continued well into the 1980s.
This documentary, produced by ABC Radio News was first broadcast on November 18, 1965. It deals primarily with the GOP post-64 and looks ahead to the mid-term elections of 1966. Titled “In Search Of The Mainstream” it deals with the sharp divisions within the Republican Party and what, if anything, would pull the party back together.
It’s interesting to draw comparisons to the current state of the Republican Party to what was taking place in 1964. Many felt the Goldwater wing of the party finally succeeded in the 1980 election, signaling the era of deregulation and an abandoning of many of the social programs instituted during the Eisenhower and Nixon years. Many say the GOP has now become the party of extremism – and even those who professed to being Goldwater Republicans are now feeling woefully out of step.
Interesting times – to say the least.
Here is “In Search Of the Mainstream”, produced by ABC Radio News from November 18, 1965.