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Barry Goldwater: 1964 Republican National Convention Address

This episode features an audio recording of Barry Goldwater’s iconic address at the 1964 Republican National Convention.

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In mid-July, 1964, the Republican Party descended upon the “Cow Palace” arena in Daly City, California.  At the party’s national convention, a clique of traditionalist-conservatives surrounding Senator Barry Goldwater fulfilled their long-laid plans to overtake the GOP.  After Goldwater’s surprisingly energizing campaign for the Senate in 1958 (a year of sweeping Democratic victories), conservative talk show host and activist Clarence Manion commissioned Leo Brent Bozell to author The Conscience of A Conservative.  Manion and Bozell agreed with Goldwater to publish the small volume under the Senator’s name in 1960 during that year’s Nixon convention.  The Conscience of A Conservative launched a grassroots, ultra-conservative Goldwater movement culminating in the Senator’s primary victories in 1964.  Through a difficult and often dirty primary season, Goldwater emerged with enough delegates to handily wrest the convention from Nelson Rockefeller’s “liberal establishment” wing of the party.  Goldwater delegates won their candidate and wrote the party’s hardline Cold Warrior platform.  In his acceptance speech, Barry Goldwater echoed the ideas from his book and magnified his vision for the Republican Party’s role in world history.  His bold and enduring declaration on the virtues of extremism and the vices of moderation inspired generations of “conservative” advocates for American imperialism.  Goldwater believed deeply that America was inherently virtuous, and so thought it historically necessary that Americans act to defend Liberty against the evils of Communism. Goldwater temporarily conquered the GOP, but his loss to Lyndon Johnson was historical in its own right.  Though scorned by history as an epic loser, in the decades since his convention speech, virtually no one has been more important to conservative ideas and activism than Barry Goldwater.