I just finished watching "Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater," a documentary on HBO. If you don't have HBO, you'll have to wait for a video release to see the film. It's a portrait of Barry Goldwater, produced by his grand daughter CC Goldwater. There is a light treatment of his politics and more depth into his character, and this is well and good, only I would have liked a closer look into his politics.
Barry Goldwater is what I would call a true conservative. The idea of a religious right horrified him, abortion and gay rights had no place being controlled by government, and that Jerry Falwell should be "kicked in the ass" by every good Christian were some of the conservative ideals he held that would label him a liberal today. Barry was a straight speaker as well; either for or against an issue, it was clear where he stood.
This combination of straight talk and true conservative ideals made it easy for opponents to mislabel him. He was often tagged as a bigot because he believed the Constitution already protected blacks from segregation and there wan no need for additional laws. Ironically this same logic was applied to gays in the military, that they had the right to serve openly gay, and he was labeled a liberal by other Republicans. He had clear views on the use of the military, and this let Lyndon Johnson paint him as a war monger who would lead the country to a deep war in Vietnam. The fact that Lyndon did lead the country into deep war was not lost on the voters, as soon the Democrat's strong hold on the South gave way to the Republican party and later put Regan in the White house.
We need more Goldwater conservatives in the Republican party, and now more than ever. The current administration and the leaders of the party have no understanding of the meaning of conservative. I can only hope enough voters turn out to send a message that those currently in power that the American people demand better from it's leaders.