Nunca una derrota tan formidable terminó siendo tan beneficiosa. "Estamos a favor de muchas cosas y en contra de muy pocas", le gustaba decir al Presidente Lyndon Johnson en la campaña de 1964. Este antiguo líder senatorial de personalidad arrolladora se disponía a transformar en hechos lo que con Kennedy sólo habían sido promesas. El objetivo de la 'Gran Sociedad' sería actualizar el viejo New Deal y hacer a la clase media cargar con el desarrollo del Estado Social. El luto por la traumática desaparición del joven Kennedy supuso una corriente favorable que aceleró las reformas sociales por las que abogaba la agenda demócrata. El Presidente Jonson con su arrolladora victoria de 1964, y pensando en volver a presentarse y ganar en 1968, ya se veía como el nuevo Franklin Roosevelt de la segunda mitad del Siglo XX.
Los barones republicanos parecían poco inclinados a confrontar con virulencia los fundamentos del programa demócrata, y el antaño potente GOP parecía condenado a tomarse como único objetivo la moderación en la derrota. Los más radicales, aquellos dispuestos a atacar el pensamiento dominante, parecían un pequeño grupo de ultras carentes de infraestructura y organización como para poder asaltar con éxito el aparato del partido. El New York Times aseguraba que el moderado Nelson Rockefeller, gran amigo de Lyndon Jonson, tenía tantas posibilidades de perder la nominación republicana como de arruinarse. Ninguna. Las elecciones de 1964 serían una batalla entre dos hombres del Establishment, dos amigos, y el ganador seguramente terminaría ofreciendo al perdedor algún puesto de prestigio en su Administración.
Pero los planes no tardarían en torcerse. La victoria de Jonson no estaría en peligro en ningún caso. Pero los omnipotentes órganos del Establishment sí perderían el control sobre el Partido Republicano en su proceso interno. Ya no podrían utilizarlo más como el perdedor leal que se ofrece a colaborar con la mayoría para hacer avanzar su programa en beneficio del "bien común" (así se ha llamado siempre al bienestar de la mayoría). El papel del legitimador de la mayoría. Este pequeño terremoto político, que con el tiempo alcanzaría mayores dimensiones, fue gracias a la campaña de un destemplado hombre del Oeste. Barry Goldwater era, según los parámetros de la época, un iracundo derechista que se proponía "arrebatar" a los americanos los logros del estado benefactor. Para la propaganda progresista era un "loco" que iba a lanzar la bomba atómica sobre Vietnam del Norte y tiraría a los negros al mar, un ultramontano perteneciente a una minoría dentro de un Partido Republicano que había votado masivamente a favor de la legislación de derechos civiles, incluso en niveles superiores a los demócratas.
Pero más allá de los prejuicios, Goldwater era el autor de una obra cumbre del conservadurismo norteamericano, el libro 'The Consciente of a Conservative', que vendió hasta tres millones y medio de ejemplares antes de las elecciones de 1964. Se atrevió a pedir el recorte de los privilegios de las clases medias populares y profetizar la quiebra de los programas de planificación social. También afirmó su compromiso con los ancestrales derechos de los estados y el viejo federalismo. El tratamiento de choque que proponía generaba un comprensible miedo entre una sociedad acostumbrada a depender durante treinta años de la iniciativa y los programas gubernamentales. Su derrota en la elección general sería algo inevitable, sería mucho más catastrófica que si los republicanos hubieran presentado a un Nelson Rockefeller o un William Scranton. Pero no importaba. Goldwater otorgaría a los republicanos un ideario propio, nuevo y vibrante, del que habían carecido durante tres décadas. Gente nueva y hasta entonces políticamente inactiva se uniría al partido.
Fuentes: Wikipedia y Union Leader
(...) The Republican Party was badly divided in 1964 between its conservative and moderate-liberal factions. Former Vice-President Richard Nixon, who had been beaten by Kennedy in the extremely close 1960 presidential election (subsequently losing the 1962 election for Governor of California) decided not to run. Nixon, a moderate with ties to both wings of the GOP, had been able to unite the factions in 1960; in his absence the way was clear for the two factions to engage in an all-out political civil war for the nomination.
Barry Goldwater, a Senator from Arizona, was the champion of the conservatives. The conservatives had historically been based in the American Midwest, but beginning in the 1950's the conservatives had been gaining in power in the South and West. The conservatives favored a low-tax, small federal government which supported individual rights and business interests and opposed social welfare programs. The conservatives also resented the dominance of the GOP's moderate wing, which was based in the Northeastern United States.
Since 1940 the Eastern moderates had successfully defeated conservative presidential candidates at the GOP's national conventions. The conservatives believed the Eastern moderates were little different from liberal Democrats in their philosophy and approach to government. Goldwater's chief opponent for the Republican nomination was Nelson Rockefeller, the Governor of New York and the longtime leader of the GOP's liberal-moderate faction. When Rockefeller was knocked out of the race by Goldwater, the party's moderates and liberals turned to William Scranton, the Governor of Pennsylvania, in the hopes that he could stop Goldwater.
En la imagen: Nelson Rockefeller.
In the New Hampshire primary, Rockefeller and Goldwater were considered to be the front-runners. Both men would invest considerable time and money in trying to woo support — at least $250,000 and 28 days of stumping for Governor Rockefeller and at least $150,000 and 21 days of campaigning for Senator Goldwater. By the election's end the result would prove to be a bitter, exhaustive and expensive endeavor for nothing, for Goldwater and Rockefeller reaped no delegates, no public relations bonanza for the winner of the preference poll and no "moral" victories of any sort. Neither man had any real appeal to a broad enough cross-section of the GOP.
As in 1952, the victory was awarded to someone serving the nation far from its shores, who would never lift a finger on his own behalf or speak a word on a campaign matter. What succeeded was a write-in for a man who had not won an election since 1946 and who had turned off party professionals in droves with an alleged lackadaisical effort as Nixon's running mate in 1960. The surprising write-in victory for Henry Cabot Lodge, serving as the ambassador to war-torn South Vietnam, would shake the Republican Party to its core.
At the outset Goldwater had a sizable lead in the New Hampshire polls and the support of much of the GOP leadership, including that of the state's senior senator, Norris Cotton, who served as his state chairman. He also received the vigorous editorial support of the Manchester Union Leader, yet his candidacy would suffer through many a discouraging day.
Little planning had been done, and it showed. The most grievous mistake may have been the lengthy schedules laid out. For the aloof and reserved Goldwater, it was an aspect of seeking the presidency he never enjoyed. He belittled Rockefeller's stumping abilities with this comment: "I'm not one of those baby-kissing, handshaking, blintz-eating candidates...thinking that a whack on the back can get you a vote."
Senator Cotton later said of Goldwater's abilities — or lack thereof — on the hustings: "We brought him up here too much. Goldwater really isn't the type of politician that enjoys mingling with people too much — he gets tired. The antithesis would be Styles Bridges, for instance, who just loved people."
Goldwater's controversial statements on Social Security, Cuba, military preparedness, civil rights and the role of the federal government soon convinced many New Hampshire voters that this decade's "Mr. Conservative" was conservative all right, but he was of the unfamiliar Western variety, not the mature, sagacious and cautious Eastern species. Governor Rockefeller seemed as tailor-made for the format of the first test as his main opponent was ill-suited. With his "Hi, how are ya, fella" and grabbing, clasping and winking style, he was the most effective Republican of that era at campaigning at close range.
The state's small size and population seemed ideal for his ebullient manner, all triggered with his famous grin. Rockefeller made steady progress in cutting Goldwater's lead in the polls, yet he could never achieve the necessary breakthrough.
The controversy surrounding his divorce and succeeding marriage to Margaretta Fitler "Happy" Murphy, who had given up legal custody of her four children to her husband in order to secure her divorce, damaged the New Yorker. As she toured the state with her husband, the new Mrs. Rockefeller was the target of some verbal abuse.
As the election neared, the undecided column grew, not the normal course in most elections. This was a clear indication that GOP voters were finding repugnant the thought of casting their lot with either Goldwater or Rockefeller. They were searching for an alternative — and they would find it. With a famous New England name, a long record of public service and prolonged media exposure as America's Ambassador to the United Nations during the Eisenhower administration, Henry Cabot Lodge, although half a world away in Saigon, was a known and trusted leader. The voters gave him a surprising victory. Lodge was a write-in candidate.
Lodge went on to win the Massachusetts and New Jersey primaries before finally deciding that he didn't want the nomination; he subsequently gave a speech in which he announced that he was not a presidential candidate.
Despite his defeat in New Hampshire, Goldwater pressed on, winning the Illinois, Texas, and Indiana primaries with little opposition, and Nebraska's primary after a stiff challenge from a draft-Nixon movement. Goldwater also won a number of state caucuses and gathered even more delegates. Meanwhile, Nelson Rockefeller won the West Virginia and Oregon primaries against Goldwater, and William Scranton won in his home state of Pennsylvania. Both Rockefeller and Scranton also won several state caucuses, mostly in the Northeast.
En la imagen: Barry Goldwater.
The final showdown between Goldwater and Rockefeller was in the California primary. In 1963 Rockefeller had earned unfavorable publicity when he suddenly divorced his wife and soon thereafter remarried a much younger woman. The fact that the woman, Happy Murphy, had also suddenly divorced her husband before marrying Rockefeller led to rumors that Rockefeller had been having an extramarital affair with her. This angered many social conservatives within the GOP; many of whom whispered that Rockefeller was a "wife stealer". In spite of these accusations, Rockefeller led Goldwater in most opinion polls in California, and he appeared headed for victory when his new wife gave birth to a son, Nelson Rockefeller, Jr., a few days before the primary. His son's birth brought the issue of adultery front and center, and Rockefeller suddenly lost ground in the polls. Goldwater won the primary by a narrow 51% - 49% margin, thus eliminating Rockefeller as a serious contender and all but clinching the nomination.
Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower reluctantly endorsed Goldwater; however, the Arizona Senator got an enthusiastic support from former President Herbert Hoover.
The 1964 Republican National Convention at San Francisco's Cow Palace arena was one of the most bitter on record, as the party's moderates and conservatives openly expressed their contempt for each other. Rockefeller was loudly booed when he came to the podium for his speech; in his speech he roundly criticized the party's conservatives, which led many conservatives in the galleries to yell and scream at him. A group of moderates tried to rally behind Pennsylvania Governor Scranton to stop Goldwater, but Goldwater's forces easily brushed his challenge aside, and Goldwater was nominated on the first ballot. The presidential tally was as follows:
Barry Goldwater 883
William Scranton 214
Nelson Rockefeller 114
George Romney 41
Margaret Chase Smith 27
Walter Judd 22
Hiram Fong 5
Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. 2
Former GOP presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon introduced the Arizonan as "Mr. Conservative" and "Mr. Republican" and he continued that "he is the man who, after the greatest campaign in history will be Mr. President — Barry Goldwater".
The vice-presidential nomination went to little-known Republican Party Chairman William E. Miller, a Congressman from upstate New York. Goldwater stated that he chose Miller simply because "he drives President Johnson nuts."
In accepting his nomination, Goldwater uttered his most famous phrase: “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” For many GOP moderates, Goldwater's speech was seen as a deliberate insult, and many of these moderates would defect to the Democrats in the fall election. (...)