November 1, 1964 – the Election of 1964 was days away, in fact a little over 2. At stake were the political fortunes of Republican Barry Goldwater and his running mate William Miller, or the Democrats with incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson and his running make, vice-President Hubert Humphrey. The Republicans were offering what would be the ever-growing new face of the GOP, one which many claimed was a sharp turn to the right and a wholesale abandonment of the Liberal and even aspects of the Moderate wings of the party. It also represented a change in the Democratic party – one that largely abandoned its Southern base and subsequently the Dixiecrat wing of the party – driving those disenfranchised party members into the arms of the now energized and staunchly right wing of the GOP.
It didn’t happen overnight – it was the changing strategy simmering since the Mid-Term elections of 1954, where the Anti-Communist/John Birch Society element was growing and becoming more vocal, primarily in opposition to the Eisenhower White House. Many in the party felt Eisenhower was way too liberal for their blood; some even saying there was Communist influence in the White House, sparked largely by the very public rebuke of Senator Joe McCarthy and his anti-Communist crusade and fear campaign of the early 1950s.
The 1962 mid-terms were something of a rehearsal. And in 1964 the GOP takeover was imminent – with Barry Goldwater as President, sweeping changes were anticipated, going back to the New Deal legislation of FDR. But the crucial element was missing – the prediction of a Red Wave sweeping the election. Most felt the Republicans had little chance of taking anything back and that the country was still reeling from the assassination of President Kennedy. And Lyndon Johnson represented something of a continuation of the legacy, or at least the promise of it.
And for that reason, Goldwater was buried in a landslide. But on this day, November 1, 1964 – the election hadn’t happened yet. There was still speculation that possibly Goldwater could win – although it seemed remote. This episode of Meet The Press features a discussion between two of the leading Party leaders of the day. James Farley, who represented the Democrats and had been a loyal member since the early Roosevelt days. And Chairman of the Republican Party Leonard Hall.
The state of Politics in 1964 – a far cry from 2018, but an interesting history that use a closer look right now.