jawlz wrote:You should take a closer look at the Goldwater speech RPM linked to; once you get past the anti-communism parts, that is really pretty close to the ideas expressed.
Indeed. Goldwater represents the classical liberal side of the Republican Party, concerned primarily with liberty in all its forms.
Never forget that it was a Republican-dominated Supreme Court that overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and it was Republican votes in the Senate that passed the Civil Rights bills.
Many Republicans were in a tough position, in a way: they opposed legally required segregation, but did not necessarily (and increasingly less so) support legally required integration. That may seem a fine point, but both positions are consistent with a commitment to liberty.
To the extent there was legislation on social issues - remember this was a day when homosexuality was illegal everywhere and abortion was illegal in many states, but not all - it was primarily at the state or local level. Which is to say it was pretty much community-based and community-enforced, and one certainly had the option of moving to places where either enforcement or the law (or both) was congenial.
[NB. This was also correct as a Constitutional matter: the states have what's known as 'general police power' and the federal government does not.]
By the way, this doesn't mean people like Goldwater were not personally conservative in their habits and mores, or that they wouldn't encourage or even exhort others to behave so, or to permit social, but not legal sanctions against those who egregiously violated accepted norms. But, this principled view stops short of allowing state (meaning government at any particular level) punishment with respect to such matters.
What happened, as it were, was that as the Democrats pushed the white working class out of the party, largely Protestant in the South and West, and Catholic in the North, and as abortion became an issue at the national level, the classical liberal Republicans of the Goldwater stripe found themselves working cheek-by-jowl with all of these new 'converts' whose social views mostly made their skin crawl. Yet, as Richard II did when presented with a gift horse by Saladin, no one was willing to look the gift horse in the mouth. And, after, Roe v. Wade, such voters became an important part of the Republican base. I didn't much like it at the time, and I still don't much like it, but there is more to be said for the morally conservative position than most of us were willing to 20-30 years ago: Charles Murray's Coming Apart (2012) makes it very clear that we have paid a very, very heavy price for the sexual revolution and the breakdown of traditional mores. Ironically, it's the working class and increasingly the lower middle class, which is bearing the brunt of the breakdown of the family.
It's a dilemma - one would like to see strong traditional morality freely chosen as a general rule - that is without visiting horrible punishments on those who live outside such norms - but how does one make a society work in that case? Just letting it be hasn't worked out so well. Perhaps if we let people do as they chose, but insisted that society did not have any obligation to take care of people whose choices turned out to be disastrous.... I dunno. Not easy at all.