Saturday, May 31, 2008

Garrett vs. Goldwater

Former Senator and Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater is often cited as the Godfather of the modern conservative movement. Our own Representative Scott Garrett will often invoke Goldwater's name to lend some kind of credibility to his arguments, such as during his speech I compressed last month.

I've often questioned Garrett's commitment to being a fiscal conservative, one of Goldwater's hallmarks. Things like Garrett voting for budgets that added $2.2 trillion to the deficit in four years; or failing to swear off earmarks; or even making sure his earmarks are going to programs that exist; have really brought into question Garrett being a fiscal conservative.

Granted, special interest groups like the Garrett loving Club for Growth (aided by the media) have rebranded what being a fiscal conservative means in the public consciousness, but in the Goldwater model they're not even close to Conservative. The very fact Garrett is beholden to such a special interest group is in and of itself in sharp contrast to Goldwater.

With Garrett's sponsorship of a Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage we're once again reminded that Garrett is no Conservative. I realize the amendment is little more than a campaign fundraising gimmick, but it's the simple fact that a true Conservative would never sign on to something like this.

Here is, in my opinion, the singular quote from Barry Goldwater that shows this point, from his seminal book The Conscience of the Conservative:
The conscience of the Conservative is pricked by anyone who would debase the dignity of the individual human being. Today, therefore, he is at odds with dictators who rule by terror, and equally with those gentler collectivists who ask our permission to play God with the human race.

With this view clearly articulated, it makes sense Goldwater had this to say to The Washington Post in 1994:
"The big thing is to make this country, along with every other country in the world with a few exceptions, quit discriminating against people just because they're gay," Goldwater asserts. "You don't have to agree with it, but they have a constitutional right to be gay. And that's what brings me into it."

There is nothing about a Constitutional Amendment that debases the commitment two individuals have made to each other, recognized by some denominations and states, that is not discriminatory.

Garrett's group of co-sponsors are not the "gentle collectivists" either. No, they're more of the religious fundamentalist variety. Garrett demonstrates this with actions like his attendance at such things as the Kairos Journal Awards. Goldwater had his thoughts about guys like Garrett:

When you say "radical right" today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party, and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.

Goldwater was true to this belief all his life, as evidenced during his acceptance speech in 1964:
Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth.

This amendment is going to fail. Garrett and his cronies will attempt to use it to rally the base, distract voters, and raise some cash. This is another example in a long line of very consistent behavior from Garrett.

Garrett is who Garrett is, but time and again he proves the fact that Garrett is no Goldwater.


Anonymous said...

It is sad that Congressman Garrett would support putting discrimination into the Constitution like that.

True Conservatives believe in equality for all and do not let their own moral belief dictate to treat a specific group of people differently than the other groups of people.

Your right about this being a fundraising gimmick though. Of course some of the further right conservatives will argue that gay marriage would "destroy" the American institution of marriage. Last I checked the divorce rate is 50% or above, I don't think marriage can be "destroyed" any further by granting equality to homosexuals.

Oh yeah, I'm straight and I'm a Republican saying this.

To me the issue is all about equality, not morals or ideology.

rmfretz said...

Well, as a Republican, it's up to you and the like minded to get the party back to the footing that helped it become what it was before the fundies got control of the wheel.