The Corner

Goldwater Republicanism

George Will sees a revival of it. He says that some conservatives “excommunicated” Goldwater himself over abortion and homosexuality, but that in this convention Republicans have finally started to air their differences on these issues–a move that will allow them to appeal to a whole new bloc of voters. I think Will is misunderstanding what’s going on. There has been no airing of differences on these issues. Neither Giuliani nor Schwarzenegger mentioned their support of abortion or “choice” explicitly, as Colin Powell did at the Republican convention in 1996. Neither of them attacked social conservatives, the way Goldwater in his late years made a habit of doing. Neither of them is under the impression that he can build a career for himself in the Republican party by talking a lot about those issues. Abortion is more of a consensus issue in the party than it was as recently as 1996. And as enthusiastic as conservatives (myself included) have been about Giuliani’s speech, the odds are still that the Republican nominee in 2008 is going to agree with the majority of the American public that wants to prohibit abortion under most circumstances.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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