People have been arguing over just exactly when the Republican Party took its big turn to the right. Some say it was 1979 and The Reagan Years. Others site 1968 and the Nixon era and many say it was 1960 and the dawn of Goldwater.
My vote is for 1960. Yup. Fifty-two years - no recent phenomenon. Let's not feign shock.
So continuing my backward look at Politics and Presidential elections, I thought I would dig through the 1964 Republican Convention held in San Francisco. Just about everyone knows that convention by the Goldwater acceptance speech (the "moderation/extremism" one). But I thought I would run a clip from just after the final vote was tallied, giving Goldwater the nomination. This is from CBS News coverage featuring Walter Cronkite, Eric Severeid and a veritable who's who of CBS News notables of the day.
Cronkite and Severeid reflect on the vote and the phenomenon of Goldwater and what was going on with the Republican Party.
Eric Severeid: “You made an interesting observation Walter, it must’ve been hours ago Walter, I don’t even know what day it is anymore, that the word Liberal was not really used anymore by the middle-of-the-road/left-of-center Republicans, those from the East and the North. That they went to great efforts, all of them, here to establish their credentials as Conservatives. The word I suppose is Moderate these days . . .
Walter Cronkite: “They use Conservatives. Scranton used Conservative. Romney used Conservative . . .
Severeid: “Milton Eisenhower went to great effort to attach the label of Conservative to Governor Scranton. I don’t know where all of them will go now. Certainly Senator Keating has a problem and I’m not sure these . . .the effect of this Negro walkout, they’re leaving the party, not just leaving the Convention.”
The Convention was a turning point for a lot of Republicans, particularly the Moderate and Liberal wing. And while the Goldwater forces were hailing it as a victory, many were of the opinion this lack of diversity within the ranks was ultimately not a good thing for either party. Something which I suspect we're weathering through right now.
But there was a lot going on in that convention. Just prior to the commentary I left in a report from outside the convention of CORE pickets and the whole Civil Rights issue, causing many Blacks within the Republican party to bolt, not only the convention but the party itself.
Fascinating piece of history and certainly one element in the giant jigsaw puzzle of politics.
CBS News coverage of the 1964 Republican Convention for July 16, 1964.