Here is a background of what happened to the Conservative Movement and How it started in the 60.
Three Big Points
1. 1961-John Tower became the first Republican Senator from Texas.
2. 1964-Strom Thurmond became the first Republican in the Deep South since the Civil War.
3. 1969-John Lindsay Lost the Republican Nomination for Mayor of New York City.
I am writing this with a big lie. Remember I was only 16 in 1964 and did not really think these things through.
Many point to Barry Goldwater in 1964 as the beginning of the Conservative or Right Wing mood. I never believed that. Here to me are the crucial points to making the Republican Party almost 100% conservative
1961-Conservative Victory-Lyndon Johnson ran both as Vice President and Senator in 1960. He defeated the underfinanced John Tower easily and ran ahead of the National Ticket. The following April, Tower won a special election once again on a scant budget and served until 1984. John Tower was the first Republican from Texas since Reconstruction. In later years Tower, though still a conservative, criticized the Christian Right and its influence on the Republican Party.
1964-the Goldwater Nomination was not really a the Conservative Victory . Looking back, I hoped that President Eisenhower would endorse Nelson Rockefeller, Henry Cabot Lodge, or even William Scranton for President. Ike had some issues with Goldwater such as voting against the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963 and the Civil Right Act in this year. In 1957, Senator Goldwater called Administration’s Budget a “Dime Store New Deal”. On the surface at least, Eisenhower feared that Goldwater might use military force before exhausting all peaceful means to any crisis. Nevertheless, Ike wanted to remain above intra-party politics and then endorse the Republican nominee. The nomination here was not really the start of the movement.
1964-Strom Thurmond of South Carolina became a Republican. He walked out of the Democratic Convention in 1948 after Hubert Humphrey suggested a strong Civil Rights plank, which was adopted. Thurmond ran for President on a Third Party similar to George Wallace in 1968. Thurmond won Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Truman held on in Georgia. Thurmond also had supported Eisenhower for President both in 1952 and 1956. Strom Thurmond was the first Republican from the Deep South in the Senate in 100 years.
1965-Liberal Victory. John Lindsay, a Republican Congressman from the 17th District, won the election for Mayor of New York; In addition, Lindsay had the support of the state’s Liberal Party .
1966-Liberal Victory. Republicans gained 47 seats in House and three in the Senate . The three new Senators were Charles Percy of Illinois, Mark Hatfield of Oregon, and Edward Brooke in Massachusetts. In state wide elections mostly Moderate and Liberal Republicans prevailed. Republicans discovered that their Old Plank “Reduce Spending, Cut Taxes, Balance the Budget, Leave to Private Enterprise” does not work. 1966 was the year of Republicans not of the Conservatives.
Conservative Victory. Ronald Reagan won his first term as Governor of California. At that time, good Old Leonard said that this was an isolated victory. Conservatives would be just a nuisance not a threat. Reagen cut against the GOP Mood at the time.
1967-Liberal Victory but With Mixed Reviews and a Real Mess. President Johnson eliminated the draft exemption for Graduate Schools and asked for 6% Income Tax Surtax Retroactive to January 1. College students did not like it since they could not escape the Draft by going to Graduate School. Liberals claim it was a war tax. Conservatives, some very selfish, claimed it is for wasteful social spending.
The Draft was a great leveler making for common ground among social classes. Upper and lower income families could sympathize with one another. Both groups did not want to serve in the military especially during a war. Now there is little group inter-action and not enough civilian control of the military. In addition, it is far too easy both for the President to send troops into battle and for the military to spend money.
1967-Liberal Victory. Senator Eugene McCarthy said he would challenge President Johnson for the Democratic Nomination. A few months later he showed how deep the opposition to the war really was.
1968-The President Election is almost impossible to analyze since two Wild Cards were involved. Dixiecrat George Wallace really hurt Richard Nixon. In Texas, Wallace pulled enough votes from Nixon to give the Vice President the state by a Plurality not a Majority. Wallace also won Arkansas and four out of five Deep South States. Strom Thurmond was of course the reason Nixon won in South Carolina. Newscasters said that Nixon would have won these states but for Wallace and the election in a landslide.
However, the second Wild Card involved the Paris Peace Negotiations just about a week before the election. Nixon asked Madame Cherauat, a wealthy South Korean married to a French citizen, to intervene with the South Vietnamese representative. The message-delay any possible agreement at the the Peace Talks until after the election; you will get a better deal from a Nixon Administration. A book published just a few weeks ago mentioned this as a new discovery. Most readers has seen this in Theodore White The Making of a President-1968. This book hit the stands in November of 1969. I hope the author did not think he was saying anything new.
Getting this news at the White House, an angry President Johnson called Nixon campaign headquarters. After that, he called the National Democratic Headquarters and left the decision on what to do with the news to Vice President Humphrey. The Vice President, in a statesman’s act, did not want to hurt any chances for peace. He said nothing and lost the election.
1969. Conservative Victory. In New York City, John Lindsay lost the Republican Primary for Mayor to State Senator John Marchi. Lindsay did get the Liberal Party nomination and won in November.