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Bill Brown

A complicated man.

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Last night was the Mr. Conservative screening at the Goldwater Institute and I had an absolute blast!

First, the Goldwater really knows how to put on an event. They had great snacks before the show (including beers, a wide variety of sodas, and bottled water) and movie concession stand snacks for during the show (including bags of popcorn!). For the Q&A after the show, they had the producer of the documentary (and granddaughter of Goldwater) CC Goldwater and Barry Goldwater Jr. The sizable hall was packed as well!

Between the Q&A and the documentary itself, I really got a feel for what was going on back in 1964 as well as what kind of man Barry Goldwater was. There really hasn't been anyone like him on the political scene since he left it, though some have been pretty close. He spoke his mind and, more importantly, his was a principled political philosophy. Some of the things he said seemed inconceivable (and they probably were then too) but they shouldn't be. Far too much of politics today is posturing and it truly sickens me.

His son made an excellent point about the seeming contradiction between his conservatism and his late-in-life support of gays in the military, abortion, and the separation of church and state. He said that his father never changed his views, only the agenda changed. If they had been issues in the sixties, he would have came out just as he did. I desperately wanted to ask his son about Goldwater's statements against the religious right and his views on Ronald Reagan, but I never got the chance.

I met with a few of the Institute people and they were very impressive. These people get the Institute's message of "limited government, individual responsibility, economic freedom." They weren't dismissive of Objectivism and viewed its adherents as fellow travellers at worst. What was most refreshing was their explicit distancing from the religious right. That is what's needed if we're ever going to take back the GOP from the neocons and the fundies. That is why the Goldwater Institute has my support. They, like their namesake, are the vanguard of conservatism—I say that only in the Goldwater sense as I prefer to identify myself as a capitalist (or libertarian if I have to).

Money quote from the documentary: "Barry said, 'If I had won, you wouldn't have spent those years in a Vietnamese prison.' I told him, 'You're right. It would have been a Chinese prison.'" — John McCain