The Corner

Paul Ryan and ‘the Goldwater Myth’

There is a small genre of articles contrasting the social views of Barry Goldwater and later Republicans. The genre has rigid conventions. Peppery Goldwater comments about the religious right from the 1980s must be quoted. Goldwater’s statements on moral issues from the 1964 campaign, when he actually mattered to the development of conservatism, must not. (Andrew Busch quotes a televised address by Goldwater in his “The Goldwater Myth“: “The moral fiber of the American people is beset by rot and decay.”) Never mention that Goldwater voted with pro-lifers in the 1970s, and only became pro-choice after he won his last election. The Atlantic is doing its part to keep the genre going today with an article about how Goldwater would be “mortified” by Paul Ryan’s social conservatism. The Goldwater of 1987 probably would have been. There is considerably more continuity between Ryan’s views and those of Goldwater for most of his career.

Update: Lame response by author Elias Isquith here. I have no problem acknowledging Goldwater’s late-in-life turn against social conservatism–and I did acknowledge it. His article didn’t acknowledge that it was a turn.

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.


The Latest