Hillary Clinton in 1996: Her political beliefs are rooted in conservatism
Before we launch this information bit, here’s a little back story – for those who don’t remember much about Barry Goldwater. Barry Goldwater, often referred to as the “father of conservatism,” ran for president in 1964 (and was demolished in the general election by Lyndon B. Johnson). His ideology would today align him with Ted Cruz or any Republican governor trying to drug test food stamp recipients – no, actually I got that wrong, because Barry Goldwater didn’t believe the government should provide welfare benefits at all. As reported by the Daily Beast,
As for the poor, they were on their own in Goldwater’s America. The federal government, he argued, should not be in the business of taking care of the poor. ‘Welfarism,’ as Goldwater constantly called welfare, was the path to socialism. It had endured, he believed, because it was sold to the country on the false notion that ‘government has an obligation to care for the needs of its citizens.’ The government has no such obligation, Goldwater insisted. The humane way to help the poor from Goldwater’s perspective was private charity, ‘where both the giver and the receiver understand that charity is the product of the humanitarian impulses of the giver, not the due of the receiver.’
Goldwater channeled Lee Atwater, who once said, “You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘N***er, n***er, n***er. By 1968 you can’t say ‘n***er’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like States’ Rights.” Goldwater, in fact, was a huge champion of states’ rights, and more importantly, he opposed the Civil Rights Act on a small-government/get government out of the way platform. Like welfare, Goldwater believed that people shouldn’t be told by the feds they can’t be racists. As democraticunderground.com noted, “His stance based on his view of States’ Rights has been interpreted as an appeal to racist white Southern Democrats, and undoubtedly attracted a few conservative anti Civil Rights bases.”
Wrote Matthew Yglesias at ThinkProgress.org,
. . . his [Goldwater’s] vote against the 1964 Civil Rights Act would speak for itself, even if Goldwater didn’t speak for it: ‘the Supreme Court decision is not necessarily the law of the land,’ he said in 1964, and he (or [ghostwriter Brent] Bozell) said likewise in 1960, describing Brown v. Board of Education and allied decisions as ‘abuses of power by the Court.’ In italics, Goldwater declares that politics needs to take into account ‘the essential differences between men.’
While there are those who claim Goldwater was not, at heart, a racist, his opposition to desegregation and the Civil Rights Act would make him, in this climate, not a libertarian but a far right extremist. He’s not remembered among progressives for his libertarian streak, but instead is remembered for his racial divisiveness. Wrote Yglesias:
Goldwater didn’t stand shoulder-to-shoulder with white supremacists on the most important political issue of his time out of racism, instead at the decisive moment in his career he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with white supremacists out of principled constitutional reasoning that made it impossible for him to do otherwise. But this is actually more damning. You could imagine the founder of a movement being afflicted by an unfortunate character flaw that his followers lack. But the argument is that Goldwater didn’t suffer from a character flaw. Instead, having acquired a major party presidential nomination he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with white supremacists on the most important issue of the day because his sincere political ideology led to horribly wrongheaded conclusions.
So there’s the back story. And in 1996, Hillary Clinton – the “progressive who gets things done,” as she likes to claim – was a proud “Goldwater Girl.”
A 1996 NPR interview with Hillary Clinton has recently resurfaced, in which the current Democratic front-runner shockingly embraced conservatism and reiterated how proud she was to support a segregationist presidential candidate.
Clinton, championing herself as a progressive for the past several decades, has failed to reveal to the voting public a few defining moments. Now, yes, people do evolve politically from their teenage years, as they gain life experience. But it was in 1996, the same era in which she referred to young black males as “superpredators” and stated we have to “bring them to heel,” that she declared her conservative roots in this NPR interview. It’s fairly clear at this point that, in the 90’s, she had no idea she’d be running against a Democratic socialist twenty years later, a guy who was fighting for civil rights while she was championing the guy who voted against the Civil Rights Act.
I feel like my political beliefs are rooted in the conservatism that I was raised with. I don’t recognize this new brand of Republicanism that is afoot now, which I consider to be very reactionary, not conservative in many respects. I am very proud that I was a Goldwater girl.