The Oratory of Barry Goldwater

  • Andrew Taylor
Part of the Rhetoric, Politics and Society book series (RPS)


This chapter discusses the reasons why Barry Goldwater is often remembered for the drubbing he sustained in the 1964 presidential election at the hands of Lyndon Johnson. Notwithstanding this, however, many of his ideas came to dominate the Republican Party and American politics. Goldwater’s rhetoric is significant for two reasons: first, it was an explicit critique of Modern Republicanism associated with the Eisenhower years and was also a frontal assault on what might be termed the post-1932 New Deal settlement in domestic politics and the containment of the Soviet threat.

Second, Goldwater saw his rhetoric as an exercise in political education. Winning the 1964 presidential election was a secondary consideration and far, far more important was convincing the American people of the peril they faced from the New Deal state and international communism.

Goldwater made few, if any, concessions to the conventional wisdoms of electoral politics because his purpose, along with growing groups such as the Young Americans for Freedom, the new conservative forces in the Southwest and California, and the disengagement of the Solid South from the Democratic Party, was to capture and convert the Republican Party into an instrument for radical political change. His electoral failure in 1964 opened the way for the Age of Reagan, which suggests Goldwater’s rhetoric had a transformatory effect on politics.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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