A man I do business with professes himself a Conservative. He explains he became a Conservative after reading former Senator Barry Goldwater’s book, Conscience of a Conservative. Hoping to better understand his philosophy, I recently bought and began to read Goldwater’s book.
Within the first two pages, I discovered two of Goldwater’s fundamental beliefs that – at best – may make it difficult for my business partner and I to establish a meeting of the minds.
Goldwater’s publishing date was 1960: 61 years ago. What I noticed in the first paragraph of his book was his basic premise of Conservatism. He assumes and immediately states the basis is that it is, “a proven philosophy on the problems of our time.”
His spontaneous justification for his belief is that most Americans, especially the young “judge the radical or Liberal approach had not and is not working.” He states that Americans: “yearn for a return to Conservative principles.”
He further claims that “God and nature” are the real foundations of Conservatism. He states that Conservatism is supported “with the truths that God has revealed about His creation.”
By the end of page three, he has asserted as undeniable Fact that:
Liberals are radicals.
Liberals are not spiritual.
Americans know this to be true.
God is the basic reason Conservatism is what everyone really wants.
That is certainly a mouthful of claims upon which to base a political philosophy. Since a bedrock of American Democracy is the total separation of state and religion, I find it particularly offensive because of Goldwater’s metaphysical justification.
I happen to like most of the known philosophical beliefs Jesus Christ is said to have preached: not stealing, not murdering, not bedding neighbor’s wife all appeal to me. My only disbelief is the Christian assertion that Christ was and is actually God, or the son of God.
Intellectually honest philosophers and prophets have never provided any incontrovertible evidence that any God or god has ever existed, or does now in fact exist. Christians, to their credit, usually explain theirs is a belief, not a proven fact.
Muslims do assert that their Prophet got the word directly from God. The most extreme of them, Jihadists, actually do not allow a person to doubt their belief without paying the ultimate price with their life. Buddhists don’t even claim God or any god exists.
‘Mr. Goldwater is a different matter. He questions America’s historical freedom of religion by assuming Christianity as a factual basis for his Conservative political philosophy.
While he calls Democrats a radical party, I call his refutation of America’s long-held separation of state and religion a radical assertion. It is not what Thomas Jefferson outlined in his first Law of Religious Freedom in Virginia, which is commonly accepted (except by the Far Right) as our American custom today.
My business partner, I must assume, hangs his Rightist belief on Mr. Goldwater’s premises. Therefore, he and I appear hard pressed even to debate the subject of Conservatism vs Liberalism until we have mutually defined precisely what premises we are basing our contrarian debate upon.
It is intriguing to note that, although Goldwater stated it is a fact most American’s agreed with him, in his campaign for the presidency he was soundly beaten by a majority of people who voted in a liberal Democrat as president.
Which pretty much disproved his basic asserted premises – as it just recently also did Mr. Trump’s.
Does sound familiar, doesn’t it?