John Fea found an old LBJ ad that shows moderate Republican discomfort over ideological conservatives like Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential nominee. If Don Draper had worked for the Democrats, this is how it would have looked:
Drawing parallels between Trump and Goldwater are somewhat overdone since the Arizona Senator had a distinguished record of public service and even vowed to support Nixon in 1960 to the dismay of political conservatives. But the parallels do contain an element of truth in the sense that since the 1950s conservatives (and I count myself as one) have stressed ideological purity over political pragmatism. Maybe it’s the effect of turning 39, or maybe it’s the Trump phenomenon, but compromise for the sake of not blowing things up looks a lot more appealing these days than fidelity to “the movement.”
And here’s the kicker for Roman Catholics reading, some of the most articulate and intellectually rigorous supporters of Goldwater were Roman Catholics like Brent Bozell and William F. Buckley, Jr. (the latter of whom during the 1964 campaign had to distance himself from Robert Welch, the leader of the John Birch Society). In fact, Brent Bozell was the man who put Barry Goldwater’s political convictions into words — The Conscience of a Conservative (as I understand it, the book was entirely Bozell’s effort — see below).
All of this to say, Trump may be much more the fruit of the conservative movement and its anti-establishment ways than conservatives are wont to admit.
Postscript: a little background on Goldwater, Bozell and the conservative conscience:
Goldwater and Bozell were incongruous collaborators: The easygoing Westerner and the intense Midwesterner; the college dropout and the Yale law graduate; the Jewish Episcopalian and the Roman Catholic convert; the principled politician and the activist intellectual (Bozell had run for public office in Mary-land). But they shared a Jeffersonian conviction that that government is best which governs least. They looked to the Constitution as their political North Star. And they were agreed that communism was a clear and present danger.
Goldwater gave his final approval of the manuscript in late December, and Clarence B. Manion, the moderator of a highly popular weekly radio program “The Manion Forum” and the former dean of the Notre Dame Law School, undertook the publication and promotion of a book he was convinced would “cause a sensation.” Indeed it did. Before The Conscience of a Conservative appeared, Barry Goldwater was an attractive but controversial senator from a small Western state who was at best a long-shot vice presidential possibility. After the publication of The Conscience of a Conservative, Goldwater became the political heir to Robert Taft, the hope of disgruntled Republicans, partyless Independents, and despairing Democrats, and the spokesman of a new national political movement—conservatism.
What had Goldwater—and Bozell—wrought? The Conscience of a Conservative was an original work of politics and philosophy, a vision of the nation and the world as it should be, not a compromise with the world as it was. It was a fusion of the three major strains of conservatism in 1960—traditional conservatism, classical liberalism or libertarianism, and anti-communism. It was a book by a conservative for conservatives at a time when conservatives were beginning to realize the potential of their political power.