Now that the Republican party has been overwhelmingly repudiated for its secession from contemporary American society, and the efforts of reconstructing it have begun, there has developed a tendency to view the Goldwater candidacy as a temporary aberration that was decisively corrected at the polls by the American consensus. Indeed, those who originally underestimated Goldwater's strength now find in President Johnson's victory a belated confirmation of their original judgment. However nervous one may have been made by those four days last July at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, the strength of hard-line nativist conservatism is now seen, in perspective, to have been more apparent than real. The Goldwater forces reduced President Eisenhower to political impotence, humiliated Governor Rockefeller, beat down one effort after another to broaden the political base of the platform, and ended on a rousing note of affirmation for extremism in the defense of freedom. But this show of power has generally come to be regarded as the result of a successful infiltration of the Republican organization by the wily and determined faction of the Right, a coup that was greatly abetted by the complacency and disunity of the moderate leaders. Similarly, the 27 million votes that Senator Goldwater received are taken to be largely an expression of last-ditch Republican party loyalty and Dixiecrat resistance to civil rights. A recent poll in the New York Times, according to which only 5.4 million “who voted the Republican ticket may still be devotees of Mr. Gold-water,” lends support to this interpretation of the election campaign.
Yet just as it was incorrect to regard the Goldwater candidacy as merely a conspiratorial coup, so it is misleading to take the bare statistics of Goldwater support as a true index of rightist strength in the United States. For the rightist cause in this country has traditionally been regional and ethnic both in character and appeal, and its failure in a national election involving a broad spectrum of issues and interests does not mean that it has failed altogether. Just before the election, for example, when the Johnson tide of moderate progressivism was running at its full, a national poll of voters taken by Louis Harris found that 88 per cent agreed with Senator Goldwater that prayer should be restored in the public schools; 94 per cent believed that the government had been lax in security matters; 60 per cent that the federal government should be trimmed, that some of its welfare and relief programs had a demoralizing effect on their beneficiaries, and that a federal right-to-work law should be enacted. To the extent that these findings are at all representative, the election did not test the strength of the conservative appeal; far from engaging the above issues, it failed even to sort them out.
What does this mean? It means, I would suggest, that the 1964 campaign tells us less about the potency of the political Right than it does about the character that Presidential contests have come to acquire in America. The evidence is now as overwhelming as President Johnson's majority that contemporary American politics is so much based upon the pragmatic self-interest of many different contending groups and blocs that the victory will go to the man who can achieve the broadest consensus among them. Thus, until San Francisco, the nominating convention had become the place where the deep divisions within each party were either reconciled or, more usually, papered over, and a candidate chosen who was less an initiator than a mediator, one who could impart some degree of unity and conviction to a campaign without undue doctrine or commitment. This explains in good part why a politician like Robert Taft—who most adequately embodied the core ideology of his party and remained first in the hearts of his fellow Republicans—was never chosen to lead it, and why the vague, middle-ground consensus politics of its Presidential candidates from Willkie to Eisenhower indeed gave voters an echo rather than a choice. Meanwhile, however, hard-core conservatism, whether Democratic or Republican, continued to lead a thriving existence and to exercise its power in local and state governments, as well, of course, as in the halls of Congress. A vivid example of this phenomenon was portrayed last November in these pages by Willie Morris, whose article “Legislating in Texas” shows how painfully little relation there is between the moderately progressive programs of President Johnson and the reactionary politics of his home state, where the liberals still comprise a small and virtually powerless faction.
Viewed in this perspective, Goldwater's candidacy and campaign appear as the first serious effort to translate the conservative individualism of the hinterlands into the terms of national policy and to recapture the Republican party from the lures and snares of the consensus politics of the past two decades. This is why, from his acceptance speech forward, Goldwater conducted a type of campaign which had not previously been seen in America during the 20th century—an ideological crusade that seemed designed to cast out heretics and schismatics and unite the true believers in a fundamentalist drive for “freedom.” If the New Deal is to be taken as our “bloodless revolution,” Goldwater is best understood as the leader of a delayed counter-revolution.
It was Goldwater's crusading zeal, rather than his ineptness, as many observers would have us believe, that was mainly responsible for his having alienated large blocs of voters. By no means an inexperienced politician, Goldwater insisted upon the unpopular and even somewhat ominous William Miller as a running mate in order to confirm that he was campaigning on ultra-conservative principles and these alone. His speeches were informed by statements that expressed the “conscience” rather than the programs of a conservative, as though the main issue were personal integrity rather than the relevance or attractiveness of a political program. “Do you think I don't know what labor wants to hear . . . what housewives and diplomats and white-collar workers want to hear?” he repeatedly asked. “Do you honestly think, after all these years in politics, that I don't know the easy way to get votes?” What Goldwater realized, however, was that the strength of his political appeal and the glue that would continue to hold the conservative movement together, even after he lost, was doctrinal purity. And it was doctrinal purity that led him into adopting certain positions—or better, impassioned attitudes—which enjoy an almost religious status in the minds of his followers: no corrupting compromises with liberals, no tolerance of “collectivism,” the soft line on “extremism,” the “better dead than red” approach to international affairs, the resistance to revisions of the immigration quotas, concern about the low state of public morality, and so forth. One has only to enumerate the groups that Goldwater thus went out of his way to alienate—farmers, trade unionists, Negroes, ethnic minorities, advocates of public power, the aged, the unemployed, as well as those who have lost the courage to die in a nuclear holocaust—in order to perceive the narrowness of his appeal. Conversely, the fact that so negative an approach to bi-partisan American policies could still gain more than 27 million votes must surely be attributed to more than party loyalty, for the Republicans who voted for Goldwater were either affirming or, at the very least, acquiescing in this approach. In other words, while the rejection of consensus politics brought disaster to the Republican party, it may well have accomplished precisely what the conservatives in the GOP and the Dixiecrats in the Democratic party have been seeking since the late 1940's—the marshaling of a formidable potential of popular opposition to the moderate liberalism and internationalism we inherited from the New Deal.
The political writers who have appraised this development most accurately are those with a right-wing orientation. Shortly before the election, John Dos Passos explained that “what is going on is not the death struggle of the G.O.P. but the birth of a coherent, effective, conservative opposition. . . . If it does nothing else, Barry Goldwater's capture of the . . . nomination has proved that dissent exists on a large enough scale to be politically effective.” And the “victory” of a new grass-roots movement was spelled out in a post-election piece in the National Review:
Is it seriously believed that the 25 million votes1 cast for Goldwater were cast by a sort of catatonic Republican who supported his party out of habit, and in reckless ignorance of the charges that had been made against the ticket? The opposite is more likely; that a substantial majority of those 25,000,000 Goldwater voters knew precisely for whom and for what they were voting, and would have stuck their hands into a barrel of rattlesnakes to pull the Goldwater lever.
Or again, just before the election a reporter for the Wall Street Journal asked a number of Goldwater voters: “Does a continuing conservative crusade carry much weight if its hero Mr. Goldwater is crushed next Tuesday?” The overwhelming majority replied that they would find another hero, preferably one who could represent their opposition to the growth of federal power more articulately and prudently.
Writing in the same publication after the election, William Henry Chamberlain raised the question of what would have been the results of the campaign if Goldwater had been denied the nomination, and went on to argue that they would not have been very different due to “a massive secession” of rightist voters. Chamberlain's conclusion was that in the forseeable future “there is no winning prospect, on a national scale, for a Republican party which alienates or proscribes either its conservative or its liberal wing.” A Republican leader in California, who helped elect George Murphy, summed up the new situation in similar terms: “The Republican party just can't tell the Goldwater people to go to hell; there are too many of them. We can't let them have the leadership, but we do have to integrate them into the party.”
This idea that serious account must now be taken of the extreme conservatives—that they have become for the first time an identifiable bloc with demands to make on the national scene and with the power and organizational skill to press those demands—constitutes a recognition of a truly important change in American politics. During the Roosevelt administrations the right-wing movement confined itself, for the most part, to scattered sniping at the New Deal, at “one world” Republicans such as Wendell Willkie, and at the personalities and hegemony of the Roosevelts. In 1948, the conservative group which tried to block the nomination of Governor Dewey was easily brushed aside, and even in 1952, when the Eisenhower-Taft contest seemed to offer an opportunity for more successful opposition, the conservatives still found that once in the arena of the national convention, they lacked sufficient strength to force the moderates to negotiate with them. By 1960, however, the remarkable demonstration for Senator Goldwater indicated that a new man-of-the-hour had emerged from the Right, and though the Senator immediately and effectively threw his support to Richard Nixon, it was with the calm confidence of a politician who felt certain that a genuine new movement had formed behind him and that its strength would soon have to be reckoned with. From having been local and sporadic, this movement was becoming organized and self-conscious; from having been composed of people who saw themselves as an intolerably encroached-upon and outmaneuvered majority, it was acquiring the character and psychology of a new minority bloc determined to win its rights by borrowing the tactics of the older minorities who had usurped the national power.
The difference between Taft and Goldwater Republicanism is not only that Goldwater is well to the right of Taft (who, after all, strongly supported federal aid to education, pushed through the public housing bill that bears his name, and was instrumental, along with Senator Vandenberg, in forging the bi-partisan foreign policy that President Eisenhower was to inherit). There is also the difference that Taft's power derived from his position on the national political scene. As “Mr. Republican” in the Senate, he articulated and effectively implemented an economic philosophy that legitimized conservatism as a reasoned and coherent, if not overly popular, alternative to the increasing centralization of power in modern society. Taft conservatism was responsible politics, capable of accommodation and adjustment, rather than a holy cause; its programs were worked out to compete with moderate progressivism as national policy rather than to whip up evangelical fervor. It is worth noting in this connection that Taft remained aloof for the most part from his party's fateful romance with Senator McCarthy, and though he died before the final rupture, the motion to censure McCarthy was carried through the Senate by exemplars of “Taft Republicanism” such as Arthur Watkins and Ralph Flanders. Goldwater, on the other hand, was one of few men in the Senate who remained with McCarthy to the bitter end and who identified his brand of conservatism with McCarthyism. Nor did his strength in the succeeding years grow, like Taft's, from his performance in the Senate, which was curiously hollow and perfunctory; it grew, rather, from his efforts to carry the Republican message to the people during campaigns, to keep the right-wing effectively in the party, and to increase its influence at the local and state levels.
Closely related to the rise of Goldwater was the spread of discontent in many quarters over the direction that American society was taking. This reaction has been highlighted by the appearance of the far-out “radical right,” but it in fact expresses a political fundamentalism whose religious and cultural roots run deep and wide. Fundamentalism itself is not a sect or a denomination or a specific church; it is a rigidly orthodox point of view which dominates some Protestant denominations and has adherents in others. However, it does provide a core ideology through which the stress upon purity and literalness of doctrine in religious matters carries over into an intransigent opposition to liberalizing the “Protestant ethic” in political, economic, social, and moral matters. Its other salient features are an anti-historical perspective which readily supports the conspiracy theory of social change, and an apocalyptic conception of the world as strictly divided into the saved and the damned. Thus the conflict with Communism is not one of power blocs but of faith, part of the unending struggle between God and the devil, and the danger of Communism comes, therefore, from within-from the corrosion of faith by insidious doctrines. It comes, that is to say, from the fostering by federal power of “collectivism”—the modern fundamentalist's secular counterpart of atheism.
Present-day fundamentalism provides a religioethnic matrix that naturally joins the segregationist in Mississippi to the nativist farmer and small business man in the Corn Belt, to the super-patriot in Colorado, to the leader of Spiritual Mobilizers in Los Angeles who says, “We are not going to give the city away to the Jews, Negroes, and Mexicans.” Moreover, this movement serves as a rallying ground for other conservative groups, like the right-wing Catholics who supported McCarthyism a decade ago. But whereas McCarthyism lacked stable bases of local, popular support, the new reaction derives from the growing power of an important religious and nationalist group which has long felt denied its rightful share in shaping the policies of the nation and feels increasingly threatened by the modern pluralist society.2
Some spokesmen of this ethos such as Bruce Alger of Texas were defeated in the Johnson landslide, but it should be noted that (like Alger himself) they usually polled many more votes in their districts than did Goldwater, which indicates that they were hurt rather than helped by the national ticket. Other local California rightists like George Murphy and James B. Utt were sent to Congress from California and a declared member of the John Birch Society became a state senator. In general, indeed, hard-core conservative candidates did not fare so badly in the election. Of the 193 Congressmen who were rated 50 to 100 per cent “Conservative” by the “Americans for Constitutional Action”—a leading radical-right group—148 were returned to Washington, and of the 32 rated “Elite” conservatives, 23 were re-elected.
The fact that the new “extremism” can continue to thrive on local issues while being roundly defeated on national ones was graphically brought home by the overwhelming vote in California—almost 2 to 1—for repeal of the state fair housing law. According to one report, during pre-election canvassing in Long Beach and Lakewood, precincts which were 70 per cent Democratic, sentiment was 2½ to 1 against fair housing and 2½ to 1 for Johnson. Similarly, in Akron, Ohio, a fair housing ordinance was repealed that had been enacted only a few months before. Other instances suggest that the potential for a reactionary conservative bloc was not magically dissolved by Johnson's victory, that such issues as civil rights, “right to work” laws, prayers in schools, social welfare, “Communist” infiltration, and “statism” still attract powerful support when raised in the context of local decisions and laws. Accordingly, the organizational strength of the right-wing bloc has been concentrated in community, state, and regional networks which, if anything, were strengthened and not weakened by the opportunities provided during the campaign. For example, some 17 million copies of the Goldwater camp's rabble-rousing literature—notably A Texan Looks at Lyndon and None Dare Call It Treason—were distributed during the campaign, a feat that would hardly have been possible without an elaborate and efficient organization staffed by dedicated volunteers. Perhaps even more significant, the number of small campaign contributions was the largest ever received by the Republican party.
Nor is there any sign that the new hard-core conservative minority has lost heart from the election or is prepared to relinquish its initiative and dismantle its structure. The John Birch Society has doubled its field coordinators in the past two years (they now number some 60) and is in the process of opening regional offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington, and New York. Other extremists in the defense of freedom like the Americans for Constitutional Action, The Liberty Lobby, We the People, the Christian Crusade, along with their proliferating media like the Manion Forum of Public Opinion, the Dan Smoot Report, Human Events, and the National Economic Council Newsletter, are visibly identifying themselves as centers of a new conservative movement. In Minneapolis, four “Goldwater stores”—which served as campaign depots for extremist literature—are now re-constituting themselves to function hereafter as the Conservative Citizens Committee. Or again, in Stamford and Hartford, Connecticut, substantial newspaper advertisements announce the formation of a group called the “United Conservative Citizens for Connecticut.” But perhaps the most noteworthy phoenix to rise from the ashes of the Goldwater defeat is the American Conservative Union, a group of some 100 right-wing intellectuals, including William Rusher, William Buckley, John Chamberlain, John Dos Passos, and Stefan Possony, who can be expected to provide the ideological impetus of this new bloc In short, with respect to organizational strength, communications outlets, and policy leadership, the mainstream of Gold-waterism shows every sign of flowing on into the future.
The absence of relatively fixed classes in America has led numerous observers to believe that there is no solid social basis for right-wing conservatism in America. Hence our recurrent reactionary movements have been looked upon as essentially deviations from the basic traditions of American democracy and as better explained by social psychology than by legitimate political interests. In a recent essay in these pages,3 Hans J. Morgenthau exemplified this perspective in his discussion of the Goldwater candidacy. Regarding the Senator and his supporters as “romantic” and potentially fascist, Mr. Morgenthau argued that “Europe, in contrast to America, has known classes, determined by heredity or otherwise sharply and permanently defined in composition and social status which have had a legitimate stake in defending the status quo. But for the defense of what status quo could the American conservative have fought?”
Now it is true, of course, that America has not had “hereditary classes” in the European sense, but we do have hereditary groups—ethnic, religious, and racial. However loose and informal in structure, these groups possess a quite concrete identity by virtue of common backgrounds and values and by their mutual interest in defending or improving, as the case may be, their status and privileges. For example, the opposition of the white supremacists to integration expresses nothing if not their “stake,” whether “legitimate” or not, in “defending the status quo.” Being highly pragmatic and self-serving, as political behavior generally has been in America, the segregationist's commitment to the status quo of 1954 does not give rise to a coherent ideology comparable to that of classical European conservatism. Instead it produces typically ideological slogans such as “states' rights” which permit the segregationist to fight for his privileged position and, at the same time, to regard himself as a latter-day apostle of individual freedom against the tyranny of the state. In this way, he screens his attachment to a caste system by an image carved from the grain of American resistance to tyranny.
The “nativist,” like the white supremacist, has also fought to preserve and extend his inherited status. The belief that the United States belonged to the Protestant Anglo-Saxons and needed to be protected against the depredations of alien peoples and ideas entered American politics as early as the struggle for power between the Federalists and the Democrats. As the very title of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 indicated, the prejudice against immigrants was coupled with the fear of subversive radicalism. As S. M. Lipset has noted in his recent Encounter article, “Beyond the Backlash,” the nativist ideology ran through the Federalist-Whig-Republican mainstream, appeared in fringe movements like the Know-Nothings and the American Protective Association, and eventually crossed party lines to enter the Populist movement and the Ku Klux Klan, which numbered some five and a half million members during the 1920's. It was during this decade that the nativists, reacting to the preceding thirty years of immigration and urban growth, and to the concomitant spread of secularism and religious liberalism, coalesced into a powerful force. In some states they passed laws to make Bible reading compulsory, and to prevent the teaching of evolution or the use of foreign languages in public schools. And in Washington, they managed to clamp Prohibition upon a resisting populace and to curtail the rising tide of non-Nordic immigrants.
The immigration laws of the 1920's proved to be the most decisive victory won by the nativists and provide a very clear example of the mentality which has sought to maintain the hegemony of the Anglo-Saxon Protestant group. According to the House Immigration Committee, the purpose of the bill was “. . . to guarantee, as best we can, at this late date, racial homogeneity in the U.S.” The main argument for this “homogeneity” was that self-government was a racial trait and that it could be preserved in America only if the racial stock of the Founding Fathers continued to comprise the dominant group in the society. “If, therefore,” the Committee Report continued, “the principle of individual liberty, guarded by the constitutional government created on this continent . . . is to endure, the basic strain of our population must be maintained.” This ideology has continued to control our immigration policies for the past forty years and is still used to mask the power and status interests of the nativist populace. No one familiar with the long conflict between the liberal Protestants and the fundamentalists over the latter's attempt to join Protestantism to American nationalism was surprised when opposition to a revision of our immigration laws became one of the main items stressed in the Goldwater-Miller campaign.
None of this is to say that direct economic class interests have not also been a major source of American conservatism. Even here, however, the conservatism that resulted was less a product of classical economic theory than of the imprint left on business values by the dominant religio-ethnic ideology. Much more so than in Europe, Puritanism and the Protestant ethic provided the economically elect with their faith in thrift, self-reliance, and independence. Thus, the reverence for the “balanced budget,” which joins frugality to personal responsibility, is usually justified more in moralistic than in economic terms. In similar fashion, opposition to government welfare programs is mainly objected to on the ground that it undermines the individual's sense of personal responsibility, for in the fundamentalist business ethic, freedom of the individual to pursue his self-interest is held to be the only way to achieve the welfare of the community. Such beliefs still continue to fortify the conservatism of small business—not necessarily small in size but typified by the family-managed, entrepreneurial concern whose advertising appears in journals like the National Review.4
The intense religio-ethnic battles of the “Tribal Twenties”—between liberal and fundamentalist Protestants, between Catholics and Protestants, as well as between the nativists and the immigrant minorities—show how deep group conflict runs in this country. That the significance of this species of conflict for American politics has not been fully recognized may be ascribed to the fact that ethnic hostilities were to some extent healed and to some extent concealed by the Depression and the pluralist coalition of the New Deal. Roosevelt's economic philosophy provided for the first time a rallying point for a labor and farm movement that cut across ethnic and racial lines and at the same time destroyed the sectional loyalties which had dominated American politics since the Civil War. But these very developments also gave rise to a new class-consciousness and political awareness among businessmen. Trading charges of Communist and Fascist leanings respectively, the labor movement and the capitalist conservatives reacted powerfully to each other as well as to the general reshuffling of opportunities which the New Deal was trying to effect. In this way, the traditional patterns of regional and ethnic political identification were broken apart by the revolution of the 1930's, and economic status and ideology became the main grounds for party attachment.
The vote in 1964, however, indicates that the economic issue on which American politics continued to turn for a generation has ceased to be the main determinant of political affiliation, just as sectionalism ceased to be the one main determinant in the 1930's. The division created by New Deal planning and the advent of the welfare state is neither as broad nor as deep as it once was. Indeed, as Samuel Lubell remarked in the course of analyzing the results of the last election, “we have developed an inflation-propped, managed economy which makes the thought of drastic change a terrifying fear to most voters.” Among those converted to the managed economy are large numbers of middle-of-the-road Republicans who no longer oppose public welfare programs as a matter of course. Moreover, the Big Business executives who once believed the country to be imperiled by Marxist-inspired unions, and the labor leaders who regarded the N.A.M. as an organizing stage of fascist capitalism, no longer gaze at each other across their sword points. Both groups may continue to argue about their rightful share of the GNP, but they have found that they can live together by recognizing that their ultimate interests are equally tied to an expanding economy and to the federal policies that help to promote it.
The decline of the economic conflict suggests that the liberal-conservative split may be settling again on its traditional religio-ethnic basis and that the driving force behind the Goldwater movement was a recrudescence—in a new, up-dated, and more sophisticated form—of the nativist anxiety and aggression of the 1920's. It is important to realize that while the alignment under Roosevelt of labor liberalism against capitalist conservatism allayed some of the going group hostilities, it also served to foster others which have only now come to political flower. For the emergence of labor as a political force was accompanied by the growth in influence of the minority groups—the Catholics, Jews, Negroes, and nationality communities. After 1936, the Democratic party became a coalition that gave the minorities a significant role in shaping national policy, their influence having formerly been confined mainly to city politics. The bitter hostility of the ultra-conservatives to the federal government which dates from this period can, indeed, be viewed in part as stemming from the recognition that it was under the auspices of federal power that the minorities were able to achieve the political leverage which was to turn the victories of the nativists in the 1920's into a succession of defeats in the 1940's.
What makes the 1964 election a turning point, then, is not the overwhelming repudiation of the candidate of the extreme conservatives for the Presidency. This outcome had been prepared for long in advance by the population growth of the immigrant minorities whose loyalty to the Democratic party rested upon personal economic welfare and group status, by the acceptance among many Republicans of the moderate managed economy and welfare state, and by the shifts in population from the rural areas to the cities. Moreovever, there was the growing acceptance of the fact, expressed most concretely by the election of John F. Kennedy, that America has become a pluralist society, however much pluralism may still be beaten down in the local and state politics of the hinterlands. And it is precisely this new pluralistic political context which gives the 1964 election its special character. In the ethnocentric 1920's, nativist conservatism represented the majority interest; in our pluralist age, it is a minority one. If Goldwater's defeat signifies the end of nativist conservatism as a majority ideology, it also signifies the transformation of such conservatism into the driving force of a definite, self-conscious, organized minority ethnic bloc. What has happened, in other words, is that the extreme conservatives, nourished by fundamentalist convictions and animated by group resentments, have reappeared on the national political scene after a period of submergence during which their influence was confined to scattered local communities.
It is still too early to say how this bloc will fare within the Republican party. On the one hand, the national influence of the conservatives has been strengthened by the simple fact of their having become a recognizable bloc and in their having mortgaged the party—no matter what may be done to change its face—to ethnic solidarity for years to come; on the other hand, the necessities of coalition politics may force the new bloc to moderate itself (though it is hard to see how this could happen without a loss of the very fervor that is the movement's main strength). But whatever happens nationally, there is no question that this bloc will continue to thrive in many precincts of the latter-day Bible Belt, which now loops across the country and whose buckle appears to have shifted to the Far West. In a recent issue of The Christian Century, Lloyd J. Averill, vice-president of Kalamazoo College, speaks of the struggle within the Republican party in much the same terms that have been developed here:
Protestants should be able to understand the issues and the stakes unusually well, since there is a direct kinship between this political dispute and the liberal-fundamentalist theological struggle which has gone on sporadically through most of this century. Indeed the creed of which Senator Barry Goldwater has become the chief prophet is perhaps best described as political fundamentalism, with a profile which differs from its religious alter ego only in detail.
And LeRoy Davis, a prominent Episcopal clergyman and educator draws our attention to the politicalization of the Protestant ethnic culture which threatens to split the church itself:
. . . the future of the church may be clouded by a fundamental schism. . . . It is possible that before long the church may take on a whole new image. It may find itself split between those who have a well-established Christian social consciousness—a group which includes the majority of the clergy—and those seeking to maintain their singular and advantageous positions in life. [Italics added]
Here, then, is the salient difference between the newest “minority” bloc in American politics and the older ones. The latter used group organization to achieve equality as Americans, while the former seeks to reassert a past dominance which would deny equal status to others. It employs the weapons appropriate to a pluralistic political context in order to fight pluralism itself, and in this lies its continuing threat to the American democratic order.
1 The final figure was, of course, 27 million.
2 For a more detailed exposition, see my articles “The Radical Right and the Rise of the Fundamentalist Minority” (COMMENTARY April, 1962) and “Rightists, Racists, and Separatists” (COMMENTARY August, 1964).
3 September 1964.
4 Despite President Johnson's much-publicized success in winning the support of a number of major executives, which was widely interpreted as a rejection of right-wing conservatism by modern corporate management, a report of the Research Institute of America, primarily an organ of business executives, found that on the eve of the election its Goldwater supporters still numbered 2 to 1, despite the fact that 52 per cent of them were critical of Goldwater's campaign. It is also worth noting that in the Far West, where the fundamentalist business ethic still flourishes, Goldwater support among the Research Institute clients ran as high as 6 to 1.