I know this a little late, but I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Goldwater’s conservatism and libertarianism. There are few of Goldwater’s ideas in the two main political parties, but many of his ideas are evident in the beliefs of many libertarians.
This summer I had an internship at a non-profit in Denver called Colorado Media Matters. I was responsible for listening to radical conservative talk radio and transcribing statements that sounded factually incorrect or inflammatory. Needless to say, it was a little rough, but I did get a good feeling for the political landscape of Colorado conservatives. One of the most telling things about my research was that many of the most right-wing conservatives aligned themselves with the Libertarian party. They were disenchanted by the big-government stance of Bush’s administration and were interested in a movement back to states’ rights and individual liberties. I picked up on a similar sentiment in Goldwater’s book. He advocates a weakened federal government and an increase in states’ rights. This is based on a strict constructionist view of the Constitution.
I think the movement towards a more centralized federal government by many conservatives has alienated some former members of the Republican Party. And, subsequently, I believe that Libertarianism has become the closest thing in modern politics to Goldwater’s ideal for the Republican Party. The insistence on lowered national taxes, fewer social give-away programs, and a lessening of governmental regulations are all ideas that both Goldwater and Libertarians share. It will be interesting to watch the 2008 elections to see if Republicans try to move back towards Goldwater’s idea of conservatism and whether Libertarians join forces with any of these new Republicans.