Why All the Republican Party’s Presidential Candidates Believe the Same Thing

Roundup
tags: GOP, Barry Goldwater



Michael Kazin teaches history at Georgetown University and is co-editor of Dissent. His latest book is "American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation."

Campaigning for the presidency, the Republican senator from the Southwest warned that government should undertake “only those needed and constitutionally sanctioned tasks which cannot otherwise be performed.” He condemned the incumbent in the White House “for timidly refusing to draw our own lines against aggression … and letting our finest men die on battlefields (unmarked by purpose … or the prospect of victory).” He proudly stated that “this nation was founded … upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom” and scorned liberals who “elevate the state and downgrade the citizen.”

Sen. Ted Cruz could have made those remarks during his address at Liberty University last week, when he announced his campaign for the White House. He certainly agrees with all of them. But it was a different right-wing firebrand from the Sun Belt who uttered those lines more than 50 years ago: Arizona’s Barry Goldwater, in his speech accepting the 1964 Republican nomination for president. 

Whatever you think about conservative Republicans, you have to admire their rhetorical consistency. From Goldwater to Reagan to George W. Bush to the current junior senator from Texas, nearly every nationally prominent politician on the right has upheld the same three-part credo: limited government at home, military intervention against enemies abroad, and America as God’s chosen land, which only those who cherish “traditional” religious values should govern.

Fellow lawmakers may mistrust Cruz for preening as a lonely fighter for truth. But no GOP politician with a serious chance to be nominated next year disagrees with his message of updated Goldwaterism. Substitute Obamacare for Medicare and ISIS and Iran for the Soviet Union and China, and Gov. Scott Walker, Sen. Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, and even the allegedly “moderate” Jeb Bush would gladly sign on. Each man also fervently connects his personal faith to the idea that the Almighty has a special fondness for the United States. Sen. Rand Paul’s qualms about using the full force of the U.S. military against armed Islamists may endear him to libertarian-minded millennials. But such ambivalence will insure his defeat in a party that has longed prized bellicosity for a righteous cause.  ...




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