Fri Dec 14, 2012, 05:59 AM
xchrom (108,903 posts)
I Was a Teen Conservative: How I Learned That Life Is Too Complex for Right-Wing Ideology
Barry Goldwater was my first political hero. The most antiauthoritarian figure in mainstream American politics, who said what he thought without giving a damn, he looked and sounded as Western as Arizona, the state he represented in the Senate. Goldwater and John Kennedy hatched plans in the White House—for what they assumed would be their upcoming presidential campaign against each other in 1964—to travel the country in the Arizonan’s small plane that he flew himself, stopping off at airports in the middle of nowhere to debate one issue or another before taking off again. This two-fisted, free-flying persona made Goldwater the kind of politician that film director Howard Hawks might have come up with; by comparison, government couldn’t help appearing soullessly oppressive. Great Society liberalism had become the norm by the mid-1960s, and this reinforced Goldwater’s iconoclasm, striking a politically attuned, insistently nonconformist teenager as utopian, in the same way that Kennedy embodied idealism for so many others of my generation.
Utopia was in the air where I grew up, though I wouldn’t have identified it as that any more than I could have told you who Howard Hawks was. L.A.’s San Fernando Valley was the no man’s land between rural and suburban, between Wild West and space-age futurism. Ranches sprawled on the other side of the biggest road that ran near my house; three miles away, in the same part of the Valley that would become the porn capital of the world a couple of decades later, were makeshift frontier towns built for Westerns by the Hollywood studios. Overhead, the purple vapor trails of rocket tests streaked the skies. Kennedy’s race to the moon built the modern Valley; every father of every kid I knew worked, as did my own dad, for the bursting aerospace industry—-Lockheed, Hughes, North American, Rockwell. The progress that cut swaths through the Valley brought a disruption matched only by earthquakes. A new freeway (which eventually would be named after President Ronald Reagan) took our house, leaving just the swimming pool that was proof of my parents’ upward mobility; the pool was given to the next-door neighbor whose house fell outside the freeway’s path. This sort of upheaval was too common to be traumatizing.
2 replies, 618 views
Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Response to xchrom (Original post)
Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:30 AM
Nonhlanhla (215 posts)
2. Very interesting read.
And I loved this line: "Ronald Reagan was the conservative Jesus for whom Goldwater proved to be only John the Baptist. " Except that I like Jesus. Ronald Reagan not so much... But the Republicans sure act like Reagan was the Second Coming of Jesus. And Goldwater was the harbinger. And now the GOP has moved beyond their own Jesus and his John the Baptist, and straight into the Inquisition.