October 16, 2013

1964. The Republican National Convention

The GOP Shakeup
"Barry Goldwater waves to delegates at the 1964 Republican National Convention." (AP Photo | source)
Republican Senator Barry Goldwater won his party's nomination at the 1964 National Convention in San Francisco. A conservative icon, Goldwater's rise marked the collapse of Nelson Rockefeller's liberal/moderate-type wing of the GOP, the Rockefeller Republicans, as the party shifted more to the right.

"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," Goldwater said in his acceptance speech.

ABC News sent Bill Downs to San Francisco to cover the convention. After the first day he wrote to his wife, Roz, giving his thoughts on the convention's proceedings and its participants.
San Francisco

July 13, 1964

Dear Mac,

I trust you watched the mass suicide that occurred this night in San Fran. I would say the atmosphere reeked of the Brauhaus—and it was followed by the ridiculous, quixotically wonderful and completely futile and symbolic "lie-in" before an unused Cow Palace gate that I trust got the paper publicity.

Funny thing about it, the Goldwater jungen and m├Ądel were almost but not quite as disciplined as the civil rights demonstrators who were more effective than the police in keeping the scene outside the Cow Palace peaceful. Everyone had their orders except the Goldwater-packed galleries not to boo the opposition. Kind of an armistice until the non-violent rightists and passive resistant leftists decide it's time to really have a go at each other.

I keep getting the feeling that they're keeping deep, dark secrets from us respectably naive middle class righteous old fuddies struggling with out-to-fashion moralities in search of outdated and inherited truths that no longer apply—at least to this smaller revolutionary convention.

For example, I don't understand the handsome, clean-cut and muscular young men barely out of their teens who show polite contempt for the printed and broadcast media—all apparently convinced that reporters are ideological enemies or idiots bent on destroying the Goldwater icon…potential desecrators of the new republicanism. It's sad and frustrating and, as you said…more than frightening. I'm interested in getting your view from the tube. The concentration of black and white electrons must have made it worse.

Bill