Republicans: Salesman for a Cause

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Visitors crowd around Barry Goldwater's fourth-floor suite in the old Senate Office Building, hoping to earn a passing handclasp or a hastily scrawled autograph. During a recent trip to the Midwest, a worshipful couple approached Goldwater in Des Moines to say that even their two-year-old daughter had pledged her allegiance : "After the campaign, we asked her who she was for, and she said, 'Gold-wah-wah.' " On college campuses, where Goldwater buttons and sprouting Goldwater clubs symbolize a bold challenge to liberal orthodoxy, he is an authentic hero; Young Americans for Freedom, a band of youthful conservatives that Goldwater actively supports, has grown from 100 members to 23,000 in one year. Shortly after the 1960 election, South Carolina's Republican state chairman, Gregory Shorey, plastered a pair of GOLDWATER IN 1964* stickers on his car. "As I drove around," he said, "I'd have people stopping me at traffic lights and shouting, 'Say, where can I get one of these?' Nobody has made such an impression on people here since Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun."

Responsive Note. Four years ago, Barry Goldwater seemed little more than an attractive spokesman for a minority on the right edge of the G.O.P. Today, Goldwater stands not as the leader of a die hard sect but as one of the U.S. Republican Party's top two or three figures. Most G.O.P. strategists agree that if the party's national convention were held today, Goldwater would give both Richard Nixon and Nelson Rockefeller a run for their money—and maybe more. The reality behind the surge: Goldwater's unabashed, unapologetic conservatism has struck a responsive note in a nation wondering if there is some clear-cut alternative to an ever-expanding welfare state.

Goldwater pushes an alternative that is easy to understand: the less government the better. "My whole argument," he says, "is based on the historic concept that man can do best for himself, and when man can't do it for himself, then and only then should government step in and do it for him." Goldwater takes stands for states' (and cities') rights, for free enterprise, and for personal liberty. In a nation accustomed to deficit spending and $80 billion budgets, he warns that debt means doom, urges that the Federal Government leave to local authorities such programs as public housing and urban renewal. When the occasion demands, Barry Goldwater can and does quote from such conservative philosophers as Edmund Burke and Russell Kirk—but he sounds uneasy when he does so, and he is often a disappointment to groups who come expecting to hear a conservative egghead. Goldwater himself is the first to confess that he is not a profound political thinker. "I'm not a philosopher," he says. "I'm a salesman trying to sell the conservative view of government."

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