Was Barry Goldwater racist

Deep-seated American racism

Donald Trump: Another one who scares the Republicans
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Goldwater eventually lost heavily to Johnson. The Democrats managed to portray him as a dangerous radical, not least because he did not rule out a nuclear escalation in Vietnam. But Goldwater, despite his defeat, left deep marks on America's political landscape.

In the primaries as well as in the presidential elections, he united the white electorate in the south, which has since formed a reliable bank for the Republican party. Goldwater spoke out against Washington civil rights laws under the guise of federalism. In reality, however, writes Wills, he was exploiting that deep-seated American racism that still forms the real basis for figures like Trump today.

Trump is more confused and contradictory

The lesson from the historical parallel to Goldwater is meanwhile ambiguous. The good news is that when it came down to it, the country was uncomfortable with a man like Goldwater in the White House. In the long run, however, the Republican Party adapted to retain the Goldwater voters. In 1974, Richard Nixon won a "tamed version of Goldwater", as Wills writes, and ushered in a long conservative era in American politics.

Of course, one shouldn't overstrain the parallel. The Obama era can only be compared to the Kennedy era to a limited extent, and Trump is far more confused, contradictory, and difficult to classify than Goldwater was. However, there can be no doubt that, like Goldwater, he will have a lasting impact on American political culture.

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