Re: “The” Speech

Lew: It was just a few months more than 50 years ago that I sat in the Cow Palace in San Francisco as part of my state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention (i.e., the Goldwater Convention). I heard a different speech than the one to which you referred: the “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice” words that Karl Hess provided Goldwater for his acceptance speech. It was during this time period that I had slowly come to the conclusion that working within the political system to reform the political structure was a waste of time. (I had, by that time, become familiar with Frank Chodorov’s observation that “the trouble with you conservatives is that you want to clean up the whorehouse, but keep the business intact.”)

Afterwards, I was enjoying a drink at the top of the Mark Hopkins Hotel with one of Goldwater’s advisors. I asked: “now that Goldwater has the nomination, let us suppose that he gets elected president. What do you think he would do to begin cutting back on federal government power?” “What do you mean?,” my acquaintance answered. I reminded him of Goldwater’s book, “The Conscience of a Conservative,” wherein he proposed eliminating a few government programs (federal involvement in education being one area). The other man answered: “don’t be absurd: if Goldwater gets elected president, the most we would hope to accomplish would be to slow down the rate of growth of government.”

This conversation helped to confirm the sentiments to which I was already becoming more firmly attracted. I went back home; walked away from any delusional thinking about “cleaning up the whorehouse;” and never looked back. It was a number of years later that I met Karl Hess, and established a long-standing friendship with him.


12:40 am on October 28, 2014