EDITOR’S NOTE:National Review is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week. Throughout the week, NRO will be running pieces from the archives to help take a trip down memory lane. This piece appeared in the August 24, 1965, issue of National Review.
I am a fourteen-year-old boy. Among other things, I am a Goldwater supporter. I worked hard to see the Senator’s election, but I was never able to, nor was anyone else.
Let us reconstruct the first week of September 1964. One week was remaining until school would start for a new year. I had decided to be a conservative Republican the day after the Senator’s nomination. I had always been and will always be a Republican. It was on this day, a Tuesday, that I had received my campaign materials from the Republican Headquarters in Stockton, California.
The package consisted of five Goldwater buttons, two “Viva Barry,” seven “Goldwater ‘64,” and one “Democrats for Goldwater” bumper stickers.
I immediately put a “Viva Barry” sticker on my binder and attached a Goldwater button to my shirt. Since my mother is a Goldwater-hating Democrat (aren’t all liberals?) I could not go near her with my Goldwater button or I would have been disciplined. Since she didn’t see my binder, I was safe in that respect.
When school started, two of my best friends, who wish only to be known as Jimmy and George, agreed to take on the difficult task of assisting my campaign for the Senator.
I gave Jimmy a “Goldwater ‘64″ sticker to put on his lawn mower. That afternoon, he did so. As soon as his father saw it, he told him to remove it. Since he followed the Ten Commandments, he did so. His father did not own the lawn mower. Jimmy had been making the payments on it and had been cutting the neighborhood lawns with it. It belonged to him, not to his father.
I gave George a “Democrats for Goldwater” sticker, which he quickly attached to his binder. (He was then a Democrat, but I have since converted him.) Since his mother would not let him take anything home in connection with Goldwater, his binder had to stay at school.
The Goldwater pins, naturally, caused a great deal of commotion around the school. The majority of the students supported Johnson. When we asked them why, most would answer, “Because our parents do.” So naturally, our pins were frequently torn off and flattened.
The disrespect for our pins, which were, after all, our private property, did not discourage us; it made us even stronger Goldwater supporters.
After school had been in session for a few weeks, a Republican Headquarters was opened in town. One day we asked a teacher who wants to be known only as Mr. K. if we might go to the Republican Headquarters during the noon hour.
He said that although he didn’t like Goldwater, he admired our interest in the campaign and would therefore let us go.
Since that was the first day it was open, they had some cakes there. We each had a few pieces. We then picked out about fifty Goldwater-Miller buttons, a like amount of Goldwater-Miller bumper stickers, and some books such as None Dare Call It Treason, by John A. Stormer. We also ordered some large pictures of Goldwater with a caption underneath which said, “In your heart, you know he’s right, Vote for Barry Goldwater.” These came a week later at which time we hung them up in our classroom.
Mr. K, who gave us permission to go whenever we wanted, as I mentioned before, had not supported Goldwater/ But after we gave him some books and pamphlets on our candidate, he did support Goldwater, and on November 3, he voted for him.
The next morning at recess, three big boys, all Johnson supporters, started chasing us. We ran into the hall and kept running until a teacher, whom I shall not mention, stopped us. Our pursuers kept coming at us.
This teacher as they were ripping off our Goldwater pins and tearing our shirt buttons and pockets off was standing there watching. I cannot remember for sure if they kicked us or not, so I shall not include that. We asked him to tell them to stop, but he replied to this effect: “It serves you right!”
They finally quit and we retuned to the playground. George, a frequent user of profanity, muttered a few of his favorite words. Then the bell rang.
We financed our campaign through donations of money, half of which we sent to Barry Goldwater’s campaign fund and the other half of which we used to buy Goldwater ‘64 bubble gum cigars which we distributed through the school.
The cigars made us mad one time. We had seen bubble gum cigars which said “All the Way with LBJ on them, but we had never seen any with something about Goldwater on them. We went to the dime store and looked under the box of Johnson ones, and sure enough, there were the Goldwater ones. We argued for a while with the owner of the store about equal space for the candidates. He couldn’t do anything about it since we bought all of the Goldwater ones that day.
The day before the election, I gave out Goldwater literature to all of the teachers at the school and the workers who worked there.
One election day, our class voted. Senator Barry Morris Goldwater defeated President Lyndon Baines Johnson by a vote of fifteen to fourteen, respectively.
Election night was awful. I had predicted that Goldwater would carry all of the South except possibly Texas, all of the Midwest except Michigan. He didn’t.
I stayed up until I had to go to bed. Then I planned my defeat statement, which I would tell to all victorious Johnson supporters.
The next morning, I followed the usual routine, and as soon as I left the house, I put on my Goldwater pin. Someone saw it.
He said, “I thought you said Goldwater would win.”
I responded to his remark and all others like it by saying, “I would and I’m sure Senator Goldwater would also rather lose with good principles than win with crummy ones.”