Monday, September 1, 2008

RNC flashback: Barry Goldwater, 1964

In his acceptance speech at the 1964 Republican National Convention, presidential nominee Barry Goldwater delivered one of the great rhetorical couplets in American political history:

“[E]xtremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And... moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

But the conservative icon had more on his mind that night than the Communist menace.

Goldwater, throughout his campaign, made an issue of “crime in the streets.” He was, in fact, the first presidential candidate ever to politicize urban crime.

(By 1968 – after the Watts Riots of ’65, the Newark and Detroit riots of ’67, and widespread rioting after the murder of Martin Luther King – Richard Nixon won the Republican nomination with a tough “law and order” approach, belittling those “bleeding-heart” liberals who said poverty was the problem.)

I’m streaming a 3-minute excerpt from Barry Goldwater’s 1964 speech to the RNC. Click here to listen.

You can stream or download the entire speech by following this link to

1 comment:

Malik Shabazz said...

In December 1964 Malcolm X defended Goldwater's slogan (Extremism in the Defense of Liberty is No Vice; Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice is No Virtue) at the Oxford Union.

By strange coincidence, Goldwater and Malcolm X (in that order) were the two most popular speakers on college campuses in 1964.