First, allow me to say that I’m an admirer of John Dean. He’s certainly more conservative than me, but time and again, he’s demonstrated more integrity than anyone else associated with the conservative movement. His book Worse Than Watergate is a must-read, and I plan to get his book Conservatives Without Conscience.
I just got finished reading an op-ed he wrote for the Globe, “Triumph of the Authoritarians“. What he writes about the current administration is as accurate as ever, but I’m more than a little concerned about the rose-colored glasses with which he views the conservatives of decades past.
He refers to himself as a “Goldwater Republican”. I’m certainly aware that when people say that, they’re referring to the fact that Goldwater always went to great lengths to put himself over as a compassionate conservative, which simply means he didn’t feel that hosing the poor was necessary to be a member of the “club”.
It bothers me quite a bit that this myth seems to continue to this day. Goldwater certainly didn’t feel the need to put the screws to the poor— Just as long as they were white and poor. Goldwater marked the beginning of the “Southern Strategy” of American politics (Although it wasn’t called that until Nixon ran four years later), in which the Republican Party made a calculated decision that they could do without black voters as long as they solidified the “Angry White Male” vote.
At the 1964 Republican Convention, his delegates actually spat on and insulted black delegates on the floor. When he won the nomination, George Wallace actually dropped out of the race— He said that his presence was made “superfluous” by Goldwater at the top of the ticket.
I’ll always find it more than a little tragic that to a Republican, the best example of compassion still involves blind hatred of a cross section of America.
Is that to say that John Dean is a bigot? Of course not. Simply that he bought into the hype.