The Republican Party's antipathy toward the welfare state is well known. Less appreciated is the fact that what really defined Goldwater in the public's eye was his comfort with, or even celebration of, the violence of the state. Goldwater on foreign policy was more Bill Kristol than Ron Paul; as historian Thomas Sugrue put it, Goldwater wanted "a strong military ready not just to contain but to trample its Communist enemies."I would argue that Papa Doc Paul's outlook also celebrates the violence of the state in both domestic and foreign policy. It's just couched in a superficial libertarian and Old Right isolationism notions. In one of the Republican Presidential debates, Papa Doc let it slip that he might not even cut the military budget if he were President, he would just pulls troops and base out of overseas locations.
And massive political violence in opposition to the civil rights movement was very much occurring in 1964. And there were two major issues in that Presidential campaign: the Vietnam War, in which Goldwater advocated immediate, radical escalation; and, civil rights, in which Goldwater sided clearly with the segregationists in the form of advocating "states rights", i.e., opposing action by the federal government to insure a "republican form of government" in the states. Goldwater's position was to let the anti-democratic voter suppression laws and the extralegal threats and violence of groups like the various Ku Klux Klan groups and the White Citizens' Council continue without federal interference. And it's well known that the police in many Southern states were willing to use violence, both technically "legitimate" and otherwise, to maintain the segregated "Suthun way of life."
This undated article from the Mississippi Civil Rights Project, The Murder of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner, describes one of the most notorious incidents of violence during the year that Goldwater was running for President defending the segregationist position.
Today's Republican Party not only has made segregationist voter-suppression laws in the states a key part of their longterm strategy. They are also undisturbed by far-right loudmouths like, say, NRA board member Ted Nugent, mouthing off about the need for people to have weapons to fight tyranny - i.e., to shoot cops and soldiers with. And especially when it comes to the anti-abortion movement, one of the most potent contributors to violence-prone fanaticism today, they are especially indulgent of such rhetoric. The notion that aborting a fetus in the first two trimesters is taking a human life and therefore a form of murder has become a standard position for Republicans. As long as not only extremist activists but "respectable" politicians and ministers actively promote that notion, it's hard to see how the anti-abortion movement won't keep breeding political violence.
Tags: barry goldwater, radical right, violence