This week's Talkshow is an Issues & Answers broadcast from September 1964. Hot on the heels of the upcoming General Election. This one features Democratic vice-Presidential nominee Sen. Hubert Humphrey, campaigning throughout the West, being interviewed while on a stop in New Mexico.
The issues in 1964 were bubbling under the radar for a while, most importantly our increasing involvement in Southeast Asia which, as of August and the Gulf of Tonkin incident, seemed to point in the direction of a drawn out and protracted war as well as the attempted coup that had just taken place before this broadcast.
But moreover was the issue of Barry Goldwater, the Republican Presidential nominee, and the dramatic shift to the right the party had taken since the mid-term elections in 1962. Goldwater represented the extreme wing of the party, which had been gaining ground in recent years, fueled by reaction to the Civil Rights movement and the staunch Anti-Communist base who still held the belief that the Red influence was still running amok in the government.
Sen. Hubert Humphrey: “It is my view that, when Sen. Goldwater speaks about the use of Atomic weapons as if they were little conventional weapons for example, and he says ‘let’s give those weapons, the use of those weapons and the control of them to the General in the field’, that he hasn’t thought it through. Or if he has thought it through then he has a very dangerous thought. There aren’t any conventional atomic weapons. The little weapons that he speaks about are presently in the possession of the United States Army in Europe, but are subject to the control of the President of the United States. These weapons are bigger than the weapon, the bomb that was used at Nagasaki. Now you don’t call that a little old conventional weapon. I feel that the Senator from Arizona has had some difficulty outlining a consistent position of Political philosophy and Political program. He votes against a tax bill and then a few months later he recommends a tax cut bill he voted against, the one that cut the taxes over $11 billion. A few months later he comes around and charges it as being a cynical and politically motivated gimmick and the he presents a tax reduction bill, a proposal of his at over 25%. One time he says we ought never to be in the United Nations. Another time he says he thinks the United Nations has some value. He’s one time condemned Social Security, a little bit later he will say ‘well, Social Security may be all right’. I don’t know how you would interpret this, but I would say that it is at least political instability, and in a President you need more firmness of purpose and more stability of position.”
Flip-flops appear to have some basis in history - we hear about them now, we heard about them then. 1964 no doubt signaled a change in the Republican party and in politics in general. Many people will contend it was this election that became Ground Zero for the ideological shift within our political system.
And they may have been right in that assumption.