Friday, September 05, 2008

THIS is a Speech

Instead of wasting time on John McCain's forgettable speech, I bring you a masterpiece of American rhetoric that Harry Binswanger of HBList pointed out.

Below is the transcript of Barry Goldwater's speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination in 1964.

Note how abstract and intellectual it is compared to today's speeches. At one point Goldwater actually talks about the metaphysical nature of man. Note how much he talks about freedom, something politicians today don't understand and don't think is terribly important. Note that he actually says, "enlightened self-interest will be our guide." I suspect that this speech was influenced by the then new philosophy of Ayn Rand.

Note that Goldwater's vision of heroes is "the sort of men and women who, unafraid and undaunted, pursue the truth, strive to cure disease, subdue and make fruitful our natural environment and produce the inventive engines of production, science, and technology." It is not McCain's tragic vision of people who sacrifice themselves for their country. This is a vision of heroes that live on Earth, an ideal for those who wish to pursue their happiness. (Also note that his line about subduing the environment would sadly be controversial today.)

Finally, note that the pragmatist Rockefeller Republicans, who sneered at Goldwater as an "extremist," and whom Goldwater answers in the most famous line near the end of the speech, took over the party long ago. The Goldwater wing, which understood the principles of liberty, is dead. It is a distant, fading memory of an America now gone.

Read this speech carefully, my friends, then compare it to the concrete-bound mediocrity we have heard over the last two weeks. Then weep at how far we have fallen in 44 years.

Take pride that America was once a land in which such a speech was possible.


My good friend and great Republican, Dick Nixon, and your charming wife, Pat; my running mate, that wonderful Republican who has served us so well for so long, Bill Miller and his wife, Stephanie; to Thurston Morton who's done such a commendable job in chairmaning this Convention; to Mr. Herbert Hoover, who I hope is watching; and to that -- that great American and his wife, General and Mrs. Eisenhower; to my own wife, my family, and to all of my fellow Republicans here assembled, and Americans across this great Nation.

From this moment, united and determined, we will go forward together, dedicated to the ultimate and undeniable greatness of the whole man. Together -- Together we will win.

I accept your nomination with a deep sense of humility. I accept, too, the responsibility that goes with it, and I seek your continued help and your continued guidance. My fellow Republicans, our cause is too great for any man to feel worthy of it. Our task would be too great for any man, did he not have with him the hearts and the hands of this great Republican Party, and I promise you tonight that every fiber of my being is consecrated to our cause; that nothing shall be lacking from the struggle that can be brought to it by enthusiasm, by devotion, and plain hard work.

In this world no person, no Party can guarantee anything, but what we can do and what we shall do is to deserve victory, and victory will be ours.

The good Lord raised this mighty Republic to be a home for the brave and to flourish as the land of the free -- not to stagnate in the swampland of collectivism, not to cringe before the bullying of communism.

Now, my fellow Americans, the tide has been running against freedom. Our people have followed false prophets. We must, and we shall, return to proven ways -- not because they are old, but because they are true. We must, and we shall, set the tides running again in the cause of freedom. And this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom -- freedom made orderly for this Nation by our constitutional government; freedom under a government limited by the laws of nature and of nature's God; freedom balanced so that order lacking liberty [sic] will not become the slavery of the prison shell [cell]; balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the license of the mob and of the jungle.

Now, we Americans understand freedom. We have earned it; we have lived for it, and we have died for it. This Nation and its people are freedom's model in a searching world. We can be freedom's missionaries in a doubting world. But, ladies and gentlemen, first we must renew freedom's mission in our own hearts and in our own homes.

During four futile years, the administration which we shall replace has -- has distorted and lost that vision. It has talked and talked and talked and talked the words of freedom, but it has failed and failed and failed in the works of freedom.

Now, failures cement the wall of shame in Berlin. Failures blot the sands of shame at the Bay of Pigs. Failures mark the slow death of freedom in Laos. Failures infest the jungles of Vietnam. And failures haunt the houses of our once great alliances and undermine the greatest bulwark ever erected by free nations -- the NATO community. Failures proclaim lost leadership, obscure purpose, weakening will, and the risk of inciting our sworn enemies to new aggressions and to new excesses.

And because of this administration we are tonight a world divided; we are a Nation becalmed. We have lost the brisk pace of diversity and the genius of individual creativity. We are plodding along at a pace set by centralized planning, red tape, rules without responsibility, and regimentation without recourse.

Rather than useful jobs in our country, our people have been offered bureaucratic "make work"; rather than moral leadership, they have been given bread and circuses. They have been given spectacles, and, yes, they've even been given scandals.

Tonight, there is violence in our streets, corruption in our highest offices, aimlessness amongst our youth, anxiety among our elders, and there's a virtual despair among the many who look beyond material success for the inner meaning of their lives. And where examples of morality should be set, the opposite is seen. Small men, seeking great wealth or power, have too often and too long turned even the highest levels of public service into mere personal opportunity.

Now, certainly, simple honesty is not too much to demand of men in government. We find it in most. Republicans demand it from everyone. They demand it from everyone no matter how exalted or protected his position might be. Now the -- the growing menace in our country tonight, to personal safety, to life, to limb and property, in homes, in churches, on the playgrounds, and places of business, particularly in our great cities, is the mounting concern, or should be, of every thoughtful citizen in the United States.

Security from domestic violence, no less than from foreign aggression, is the most elementary and fundamental purpose of any government, and a government that cannot fulfill this purpose is one that cannot long command the loyalty of its citizens.

History shows us -- it demonstrates that nothing, nothing prepares the way for tyranny more than the failure of public officials to keep the streets safe from bullies and marauders.

Now, we Republicans see all this as more, much more, than the result of mere political differences or mere political mistakes. We see this as the result of a fundamentally and absolutely wrong view of man, his nature, and his destiny. Those who seek to live your lives for you, to take your liberties in return for relieving you of yours, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for Divine Will, and this Nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom.

Now those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. They -- and let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions, ladies and gentlemen, of equality. Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences. Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.

Fellow Republicans, it is the cause of Republicanism to resist concentrations of power, private or public, which -- which enforce such conformity and inflict such despotism. It is the cause of Republicanism to ensure that power remains in the hands of the people. And, so help us God, that is exactly what a Republican President will do with the help of a Republican Congress.

It is further the cause of Republicanism to restore a clear understanding of the tyranny of man over man in the world at large. It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression -- and this is hogwash.

It is further the cause of Republicanism to remind ourselves, and the world, that only the strong can remain free, that only the strong can keep the peace.

Now, I needn't remind you, or my fellow Americans regardless of party, that Republicans have shouldered this hard responsibility and marched in this cause before. It was Republican leadership under Dwight Eisenhower that kept the peace, and passed along to this administration the mightiest arsenal for defense the world has ever known. And I needn't remind you that it was the strength and the [un]believable will of the Eisenhower years that kept the peace by using our strength, by using it in the Formosa Straits and in Lebanon and by showing it courageously at all times.

It was during those Republican years that the thrust of Communist imperialism was blunted. It was during those years of Republican leadership that this world moved closer, not to war, but closer to peace, than at any other time in the last three decades.

And I needn't remind you -- but I will -- that it's been during Democratic years that our strength to deter war has stood still, and even gone into a planned decline. It has been during Democratic years that we have weakly stumbled into conflict, timidly refusing to draw our own lines against aggression, deceitfully refusing to tell even our people of our full participation, and tragically, letting our finest men die on battlefields, unmarked by purpose, unmarked by pride or the prospect of victory.

Yesterday, it was Korea. Tonight, it is Vietnam. Make no bones of this. Don't try to sweep this under the rug. We are at war in Vietnam. And yet the President, who is the Commander-in-Chief of our forces, refuses to say -- refuses to say, mind you, whether or not the objective over there is victory. And his Secretary of Defense continues to mislead and misinform the American people, and enough of it has gone by.

And I needn't remind you -- but I will -- it has been during Democratic years that a billion persons were cast into Communist captivity and their fate cynically sealed.

Today -- Today in our beloved country we have an administration which seems eager to deal with communism in every coin known -- from gold to wheat, from consulates to confidences, and even human freedom itself.

Now the Republican cause demands that we brand communism as the principal disturber of peace in the world today. Indeed, we should brand it as the only significant disturber of the peace, and we must make clear that until its goals of conquest are absolutely renounced and its relations with all nations tempered, communism and the governments it now controls are enemies of every man on earth who is or wants to be free.

Now, we here in America can keep the peace only if we remain vigilant and only if we remain strong. Only if we keep our eyes open and keep our guard up can we prevent war. And I want to make this abundantly clear: I don't intend to let peace or freedom be torn from our grasp because of lack of strength or lack of will -- and that I promise you, Americans.

I believe that we must look beyond the defense of freedom today to its extension tomorrow. I believe that the communism which boasts it will bury us will, instead, give way to the forces of freedom. And I can see in the distant and yet recognizable future the outlines of a world worthy of our dedication, our every risk, our every effort, our every sacrifice along the way. Yes, a world that will redeem the suffering of those who will be liberated from tyranny. I can see -- and I suggest that all thoughtful men must contemplate -- the flowering of an Atlantic civilization, the whole of Europe reunified and freed, trading openly across its borders, communicating openly across the world.

Now, this is a goal far, far more meaningful than a moon shot.

It's a -- It's a truly inspiring goal for all free men to set for themselves during the latter half of the twentieth century.

I can also see -- and all free men must thrill to -- the events of this Atlantic civilization joined by its great ocean highway to the United States. What a destiny! What a destiny can be ours to stand as a great central pillar linking Europe, the Americas, and the venerable and vital peoples and cultures of the Pacific. I can see a day when all the Americas, North and South, will be linked in a mighty system, a system in which the errors and misunderstandings of the past will be submerged one by one in a rising tide of prosperity and interdependence. We know that the misunderstandings of centuries are not to be wiped away in a day or wiped away in an hour. But we pledge, we pledge that human sympathy -- what our neighbors to the South call an attitude of "simpatico" -- no less than enlightened self-interest will be our guide.

And I can see this Atlantic civilization galvanizing and guiding emergent nations everywhere.

Now I know this freedom is not the fruit of every soil. I know that our own freedom was achieved through centuries, by unremitting efforts of brave and wise men. And I know that the road to freedom is a long and a challenging road. And I know also that some men may walk away from it, that some men resist challenge, accepting the false security of governmental paternalism.

And I -- And I pledge that the America I envision in the years ahead will extend its hand in health, in teaching and in cultivation, so that all new nations will be at least encouraged -- encouraged! -- to go our way, so that they will not wander down the dark alleys of tyranny or the dead-end streets of collectivism.

My fellow Republicans, we do no man a service by hiding freedom's light under a bushel of mistaken humility.

I seek an America proud of its past, proud of its ways, proud of its dreams, and determined actively to proclaim them. But our example to the world must, like charity, begin at home.

In our vision of a good and decent future, free and peaceful, there must be room, room for deliberation of the energy and the talent of the individual; otherwise our vision is blind at the outset.

We must assure a society here which, while never abandoning the needy or forsaking the helpless, nurtures incentives and opportunities for the creative and the productive. We must know the whole good is the product of many single contributions.

And I cherish a day when our children once again will restore as heroes the sort of men and women who, unafraid and undaunted, pursue the truth, strive to cure disease, subdue and make fruitful our natural environment and produce the inventive engines of production, science, and technology.

This Nation, whose creative people have enhanced this entire span of history, should again thrive upon the greatness of all those things which we, we as individual citizens, can and should do. And during Republican years, this again will be a nation of men and women, of families proud of their role, jealous of their responsibilities, unlimited in their aspirations -- a Nation where all who can will be self-reliant.

We Republicans see in our constitutional form of government the great framework which assures the orderly but dynamic fulfillment of the whole man, and we see the whole man as the great reason for instituting orderly government in the first place.

We see -- We see in private property and in economy based upon and fostering private property, the one way to make government a durable ally of the whole man, rather than his determined enemy. We see in the sanctity of private property the only durable foundation for constitutional government in a free society. And -- And beyond that, we see, in cherished diversity of ways, diversity of thoughts, of motives and accomplishments. We don't seek to lead anyone's life for him. We only seek -- only seek to secure his rights, guarantee him opportunity -- guarantee him opportunity to strive, with government performing only those needed and constitutionally sanctioned tasks which cannot otherwise be performed.

We Republicans seek a government that attends to its inherent responsibilities of maintaining a stable monetary and fiscal climate, encouraging a free and a competitive economy and enforcing law and order. Thus, do we seek inventiveness, diversity, and creative difference within a stable order, for we Republicans define government's role where needed at many, many levels -- preferably, though, the one closest to the people involved.

Our towns and our cities, then our counties, then our states, then our regional compacts -- and only then, the national government. That, let me remind you, is the ladder of liberty, built by decentralized power. On it also we must have balance between the branches of government at every level.

Balance, diversity, creative difference: These are the elements of the Republican equation. Republicans agree -- Republicans agree heartily to disagree on many, many of their applications, but we have never disagreed on the basic fundamental issues of why you and I are Republicans.

This is a Party. This Republican Party is a Party for free men, not for blind followers, and not for conformists.

In fact, in 1858 Abraham Lincoln said this of the Republican party -- and I quote him, because he probably could have said it during the last week or so: "It was composed of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements" -- end of the quote -- in 1858. Yet -- Yet all of these elements agreed on one paramount objective: To arrest the progress of slavery, and place it in the course of ultimate extinction.

Today, as then, but more urgently and more broadly than then, the task of preserving and enlarging freedom at home and of safeguarding it from the forces of tyranny abroad is great enough to challenge all our resources and to require all our strength.

Anyone who joins us in all sincerity, we welcome. Those who do not care for our cause, we don't expect to enter our ranks in any case. And -- And let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels.

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.

(Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.)

And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

Why the beauty of the very system we Republicans are pledged to restore and revitalize, the beauty of this Federal system of ours is in its reconciliation of diversity with unity. We must not see malice in honest differences of opinion, and no matter how great, so long as they are not inconsistent with the pledges we have given to each other in and through our Constitution.

Our Republican cause is not to level out the world or make its people conform in computer regimented sameness. Our Republican cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world.

Ours is a very human cause for very humane goals.

This Party, its good people, and its unquenchable devotion to freedom, will not fulfill the purposes of this campaign, which we launch here and now, until our cause has won the day, inspired the world, and shown the way to a tomorrow worthy of all our yesteryears.

I repeat, I accept your nomination with humbleness, with pride, and you and I are going to fight for the goodness of our land.

Thank you.


John said...

If I hadn't read it here first, I think I might suspect that such a speech must be a forgery. Never - in my lifetime - have I heard a politician speak like that.

Thanks for that.

Bill Brown said...

THAT is why I call myself a Goldwater Republican. Goldwater was definitely not perfect, but he's about as close to perfection as a conservative (or politician) has gotten in the twentieth century.

madmax said...


What do you think of this?:

I have a feeling Tracinski will offer something similar.

My guess is that the debate among Objectivists over the 2008 election is going to be even more contentious than the one over the 2004 election. And that was heated.

Myrhaf said...

John and Bill, I'm glad you found Goldwater's speech of value. It's the most amazing speech I have ever read.

Madmax, my first reaction to Bidinotto's endorsement of McCain/Palin -- and in this case you have to add the VP (that's how important she is to the ticket) -- is suspicion. In the first half of the post he makes an excellent argument against McCain. In the second half he argues that Republicans are mixed, but the Democrats are pure poison.

As I see it, both candidates will make America worse. Bidinotto argues that the Republican won't actively be working to undermine our country like the Democrat, and that difference is enough to vote Republican.

I'm suspicious that his argument is a pragmatic cost/benefit analysis rather than thinking in principles.

Tracinski is playing cards closer to his chest so far. From one post in the last few months I gather that Wakeland is urgin Tracinski to support McCain because he is stong on war and foreign policy. Last night's email ended with:

In a way, I think the Republicans have almost played a cruel joke on Obama, letting him swank about like a celebrity, delivering speeches to the adulation of giant crowds, and following his appearance—did you notice this in his Denver speech?—with a weird kind of elegiac music, the kind of soundtrack you would expect to hear playing over the ending credits of a documentary about Abraham Lincoln. All of that for a man with so few accomplishments, so few works of charity, so little record of his character and convictions. And for this whole time, the Republicans knew that their convention would reveal the far greater stature of John McCain's life and actions.

I don't say this to excuse McCain's past or current sins. I mean it in a Hugo-esque sense. Victor Hugo is famous for giving the antagonists in his novels—think of Javert in Les Miserables—a certain stature and dignity, even grandeur. Something similar applies to John McCain. And in fact, the comparison to Hugo's Inspector Javert is a useful one. Javert is driven by a strict code of moral uprightness, duty, and obedience to the law—but it is a dogmatic and authoritarian sense of honor. As I have argued before, John McCain's politics is largely driven by his own frequently misguided sense of personal honor.

And that is something that must be acknowledged, independent of the question of whether we should vote for Senator McCain. It is a version of the same sympathy that I hold toward the political right in general, even though I oppose large parts of its ideology. Senator McCain may be mistaken in his morality and world view, but he can still claim the dignity of someone who strives to be true to an ideal.

Not an endorsement, but a recognition that McCain has ideals, however mistaken.

Anonymous said...

As I read Bidinotto, he is making a crucial distinction between the nature of the errors with which McCain and Obama present. They are both wrong on many if not most issues. Bidinotto sees McCain’s errors as “honest mistakes” resulting from a lack of specialized knowledge in crucial areas in combination with the collectivist military-unit perspective of his own war experience. On the other hand, Bidinotto sees Obama’s errors as explicitly chosen on the basis of a pernicious, anti-American world-view and constructed narrative which is resistant to any challenge posed by the facts of reality.

Jason H. Bowden said...

Goldwater seems a bit soft on war. Communism needed to be actively resisted in the 1900s; I see no reason to criticize the containment strategy implemented by Truman and continued by Kennedy and LBJ.

Of course, I have the benefit of hindsight. During the 1970s, when the USA began to show fatigue and weakness of will, Communism spread its tentacles to Burma, Laos, Angola, Somalia, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Congo, Yemen, and Afghanistan.

The domino effect was the real deal. Fortunately we elected Ronald Reagan in 1980, a neo-conservative, not an isolationist paleo-con, who not only militarily resisted the communists in Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Grenada and elsewhere, but also placed a lot of moral pressure on the communists. Reagan resisted the communists with ideas AND bullets.

mike18xx said...

> Reagan resisted the communists with ideas AND bullets.


Every single freaking time.

(I should have recalled Goldwater's speech back a couple threads with somebody was touting his "Ideas are winning!" as he waxed moist over the ARI and some copies of Atlas Shrugged plopping into skools here and there. -- It'd take us a century just to blabber our way back to where we were forty years ago with a Rand-ite speaker giving the keynote speech on nationwide TV when there were only three channels.)

IchorFigure said...

Unfortunately when he makes references to God, especially as the "author of freedom" you can pretty much hear the present we've come to now.

madmax said...

"I'm suspicious that his argument is a pragmatic cost/benefit analysis rather than thinking in principles."

What an excellent summation of Bidinotto's argument. Thanks so much for the response. Bidinotto made some interesting points but I think his errors are a microcosm of Kelley-ite errors in general. One of the worst of those being a failure to consistently think in principles.

madmax said...

"It'd take us a century just to blabber our way back to where we were forty years ago with a Rand-ite speaker giving the keynote speech on nationwide TV when there were only three channels."

I don't think that is the way it will play out. If Objectivism should get a hold of the culture starting with the universities, IMO, the move to capitalism would happen rather fast; in increments but quickly nonetheless. Imagine if Objectivism were to be a dominant influence on Hollywood. 20, 30 or more Objectivist/Romantic influenced movies per year. Romantic music, art, sculpture. If it ever came to that, even if the rest of the culture were steeped in nihilism, Ojectivism/capitalism would spread fast. Its going to take a massive amount of effort and probably a tremendous amount of luck to get to the tipping point. But once there, it will be a quick jog to the finish line. As I see it.

mike18xx said...

....If Objectivism should get a hold of the culture starting with the universities....

I wish I had a pony.

madmax said...

"I wish I had a pony."

Maybe you should just put a bullet in your head Mike. Think of it this way, you would be out of your misery.

john said...

This speech was written by Karl Hess. He was a libertarian, but one that was heavily influenced by Ayn Rand. Also, Rand herself had direct contact with Goldwater and would have done/contributed more, but she got disgusted with his religiosity and some of his other mixed premises.