"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice!" True or false?
Barry Goldwater, in his acceptance speech the 1964 US Presidential campaign, said at the Republican Convention: “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!” Was he right? This was said at the height of the cold war when fears of a nuclear Armageddon with the Soviet Union ran high on both the American and Soviet side.
In response to Goldwater’s praise of extremism, the famous Daisy Ad ran just one time before it was pulled. But that one time was enough. It got replayed in newscast after newscast and discussed in every political talk show of the time. The net result was Goldwater lost by one of the most lopsided votes in US History. Lyndon Johnson carried 44 states and the District of Columbia. Goldwater won only 6 states.
Certainly we want to preserve liberty, but how realistic is in to do that by a reliance on extremism? Doesn’t extremism work directly against liberty? And all but criminals and psychopaths wish to pursue justice, but how much justice can we achieve without a degree of moderation? Is immoderate justice what we should strive for?
We seem to have been embroiled in this debate ever since Goldwater’s lopsided loss. Stung by his defeat, far right-wingers who agreed with him built a 50-state network of well-funded think tanks and PR firms to slowly change the national meme into one where extremism would be a virtue. So while this question seems to deal with an election that happened before many on Fluther were even born, it is as current as the decision we’ll have to make in the 2014 mid-term election and in 2016’s presidential race. In this nuclear age, where do you think the line between reasonable defense of liberty and dogmatic extremism lies?