Barry Goldwater
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“The enemy of freedom is unrestrained power, and the champions of freedom will fight against the concentration of power wherever they find it.”


“The challenge to Conservatives today is quite simply to demonstrate the bearing of a proven philosophy on the problems of our own time.”

The country now debates annually how much to…

Conservatism is applying tested truths from the past to the present

The Conservative is interested in applying “the accumulated wisdom and experience of history, and he is not too proud to learn from the great minds of the past.”

“To suggest that the Conservative philosophy is out of date is akin to saying that the Golden Rule or the ten Commandments or Aristotle’s Politics are out of date. The conservative approach is nothing more or less than an attempt to apply the wisdom and experience and the revealed truths of the past to the problems of today.”

“In a country where it is now generally understood and proclaimed that individual liberty depends on decentralized government, congress annually deliberates over whether vigorous or halting steps should be taken to bring state government into line with federal policy.”

Freedom is impossible with a big government

“Man’s political freedom is illusory if he is dependent for his economic needs on the state.”

“The Conservative looks upon politics as the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order.”

“The Conservative’s first concern will always be: are we maximizing freedom?”

“Throughout history, government has proven to be the chief instrument for thwarting man’s liberty.”

“That’s what the Constitution is: a system of restraints against the natural tendency of government to expand in the direction of absolutism.”

“The government takes six percent of most payrolls in SOcial Security Taxes and thus compels milllions of individuals to postpone until later years teh enjoyment of wealth they might otherwise enjoy today.”

Government should be “default small”

There has been a tonal shift in America where the government has evolved from a small government seeking bigger responsibility but assuming it has no power to a government that assumes it has ultimate power and is merely debating how and when to use it.

The first principle of totalitarianism: that the State is competent to do all things and is limited in what it actually does only by the will of those who control the State.”

“The Constitution is an instrument, above all, for limiting the functions of government.”

How to measure the size of your government

There are a number of ways in which the power of government can be measured.

One is the size of its financial operations. Federal spending is now approaching a hundred billion dollars a year (compared with three and one-half billion, less than three decades ago).

Another is the scope of its activities. A study recently conducted by the Chicago Tribune showed that the federal government is now the “biggest land owner, property manager, renter, mover, and hauler, medical clinician, lender, insurer, mortgage broker, employer, debtor, taxer, and spender in all of history.”

Still another is the portion of peoples’ earnings the government appropriates for its own use: nearly a third of earnings are taken every year in the form of taxes.”

Democracy can be dangerous, and America is not a direct democracy for a reason

The Constitution deliberately sets up a Representative Democracy in the United States, to limit the influence of the people in the actions of government. This prevents rapid backlash and mob mentality from taking over the legislative process.

“The Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, probably the most clairvoyant political observer of modern times, saw the danger when he visited this country in the 1830’s. Even then he foresaw decay for a society that tended to put more emphasis on its democracy than on its republicanism.”

States’ Rights

The Constitution is a limiting agent. It is intended to limit the power of the federal government and give as much leeway as possible to the states. The federal government should be concerned with safety — both defense and internal stability. It should not be involved in welfare programs, safety net programs, or education. Those should be left to the States.

“The Tenth Amendment is not a “general assumption,” but a prohibitory rule of law. The Tenth Amendment recognizes the States’ jurisdiction in certain areas. States’ Rights means that the States have a right to act or not to act as they see fit, in the areas reserved to them.”

Federal government matching State funding is a one-way street; no sane State legislator will ever divorse from “free money” from the federal government.

The federal government can only grow, it cannot shrink. Thus it is imperative to be extremely careful about what roles are assigned to it, for they are rarely, if ever, taken away.

For the States model to work, States must be able to compete, otherwise they are little more than imaginary lines between swaths of land. Lower exit costs / switching costs are necessary to move between states and keep them accountable to their residents.

Taxes and Spending

“We have been led to discount, and often to forget altogether, the bearing of taxation on the problem of individual freedom. We have been persuaded that the government has an unlimited claim on the wealth of the people, and that the only pertinent question is what portion of its claim the government should exercise.”

Any dollar taken in taxes is a dollar the individual cannot spend to further their own ambitions. Thus, taxation is directly at odds with personal freedom.

Goldwater portrays progressive tax as punishing success.

Republicans like to talk of cutting taxes, but not enough of cutting spending. However, spending cuts must come before tax cuts in order to avoid deficit spending and inflation.

“The only way to curtain spending substantially is to eliminate the programs on which excess spending is consumed. The government must begin to withdraw from a whole series of programs that are outside its constitutional mandate—from social welfare programs, education, public power, agriculture, public housing, urban renewal, and all other activities that can be better performed by lower levels of government.”

Money is not free

There is a common misconception that money from the federal government is “free”. While the money does not come from the States’ coffers, it still comes from the individual taxpayer. It is only “free” from the perspective of the State legislator; they would be wasting the individual taxpayer’s money anyway.

“The federal government has no funds except those it extracts from the taxpayers who reside in the various States. The money that the federal government pays to State X for education has been taken from the citizens of State X in federal taxes and comes back to them minus the Washington brokerage fee.”

About freeloaders: “There will always be some men, of course, who will try to sponge off others; but let us not express our contempt for some men by denying freedom of choice to all men.

Individualism and differences are necessary and natural

“The Conservative believes that man is, in part, an economic, animal creature; but that he is also a spiritual creature with spiritual needs… Conservatism therefore looks upon the enhancement of man’s spiritual nature as the primary concern of political philosophy.”

Individualism is key to human flourishing. Government should be a force to allow maximum freedom and individualism.

“Only a philosophy that takes into account the essential differences between men and accordingly makes provision for developing the different potentialities of each man can claim to be in accord with Nature.”

Free Markets

Federal government involvement in farm subsidies has perverted market incentives for farmers, leading to massive amounts of wasted food, high food prices, limiting farmers’ freedoms, and a reduction in farmers’ quality of life.

Unions are necessary to counteract big consolidated corporations, but they must be reformed in a few major ways.

Welfare is the first step to Socialism

Welfare is Socialism in disguise: instead of openly saying that the government should control all facets of business, instead give the government control of benefits and then create a need to fund those benefits, thus requiring higher taxes and increased control over output.

Do Conservatives have no concern or empathy for the unemployed or the sick? The answer is no, they do of course care.

This issue highlights the fundamental different between the Left and Right — whether or not they trust government.The Left turns to government to solve their problems and trusts the system, wheresa the Right is skeptical and would prefer smaller local power or individual solutions.

“The material and spiritual sides of man are intertwined; that it is impossible for the State to assume responsibility for one without intruding on the essential nature of the other; that if we take from a man the personal responsibility for caring for his material needs, we take from him also the will and the opportunity to be free.”


Education should be handled by states, not by the federal government.

The issue is not spending; there is enough money. The issue is quality of education, which is increasingly low.

“Our ability to cope with the great crises that lie ahead will be enhanced in direct ratio as we recapture the lost art of learning.”

Different children are good at different things, and should be nurtured differently in order to maximize their success.

On schools becoming vehicles for politics instead of education: “In our anxiety to ‘improve’ the world and insure ‘progress’, we have permitted our schools to become laboratories for social and economic change according to the predilections of the professional educators.”

Be skeptical of government

Government can only grow, it cannot shrink.

Progress comes at the hands of exceptional individuals, not as a result of central planning.

“We are not guaranteed against unwise controls any more than we are guaranteed against unwise Congressmen.”

Goldwater’s critiques of Republicans

Goldwater seems almost as disappointed with Republicans of his day as he is with Democrats.

The Soviet Union

The Soviets have a desire to win, even if the cost of winning means going to war — their desire is not for peace. They want complete world domination.

The US wants peace — but it should “not want the peace of surrender”.

We must have as much conviction in freedom as the Soviets have in Communism. We must believe that it is preferably to die than to not be free.

We should stop courting the leaders of enemy countries, and instead focus on courting their people.

We must behave like a great power. Make it clear what can and cannot be negotiate. Do not grovel and make increasingly big concessions for peace. If necessary, go to war for what you believe.