WHAT'S NEXT? | 2000-05-13

I read Barry Goldwater's book, "The Conscience of a Conservative," about 1959. From that day forward I was a Goldwater Republican, and dedicated my efforts to getting him nominated. Lake and I and others pushed the Southern Strategy for winning the presidency long before it became popular. If Kennedy had not been assassinated, something we could hardly anticipate, we would have done very well in 1964, and set the Republican Party's course to conservatism from then on.

But after the trauma of Kennedy's assassination and a change of presidents, the public was not about to consider another upheaval of the kind Goldwater represented. With the press and the left side of the Republican Party against us, we were crushed in 1964 instead of merely defeated. So the party went back to the old, reliable, losing "center" for sixteen disastrous years.

It turned out that had we nominated Goldwater again in 1968, we would have won the presidency easily. The Wallace vote -- 14% of the total vote which was made up mostly of renegade Democrats -- would have gone solidly for Goldwater in 1968. But it did not go for Nixon that year. In 1968, Nixon and Wallace combined got over 57% of the vote. Nixon alone barely won against the Democrat Humphrey.

So the Wallace Democrats did not become the Reagan Democrats until 1980. That probably ruined America irretrievably. Had the Republican conservatives held onto the party four more years, all this could have been avoided. But the conservatives were embarrassed because Goldwater was beaten so badly in 1964. They were terrified liberal Republicans would be mad at them, and they couldn't surrender fast enough.

Within weeks of the 1964 election, moderates and liberals were back in control of the party.

As it turns out, as William Rusher points out in his "Rise of the Right," the Goldwater movement represented the rise of the national conservative movement to national organization and national clout. But as soon as conservatives had built all the power and machinery it took to nominate Goldwater, they quit.

Almost every rising political movement is beaten the first time it gains a national spokesman like Goldwater.

Andrew Jackson lost his first bid for the presidency in 1824, and four years later he took over national politics. The Republicans under Fremont lost in 1856, and, however unfortunate it was, the lesson of history is that they persevered and won in 1860. William Jennings Bryan got his party's nomination and lost three times, but by the time he finished, the old Cleveland Gold Standard Democrats were gone forever. Franklin Delano Roosevelt lost his bid for vice president in 1920 and the man he made the nominating speech for in 1928, Al Smith, lost in a landslide as bad as the one that beat Goldwater.

But FDR's movement has ruled America ever since 1932.

Each of those who made these revolutions treated their first defeat, no matter how bad it was, as the first step. They didn't rush to surrender the way the conservatives did in 1964.

Many groups consider the Confederate flag to be the be-all and end-all of their movement, just as conservatives in 1964 considered their defeat to be the end of everything for them. As a result, they made it just that. They did not realize how far they had come. They had built a major political network of conservatives and had captured control of one of the two national parties. They had a chance to build on all that, and they threw it all away.

The flag battle was a step along the way. We lost that battle, but we came a long way during it. I have seen thousands of South

Carolinians march on the streets of Columbia with our flag for the first time in decades. I have seen us organize a true MOVEMENT.

In fact, the flag defeat has taught Southerners a lesson they had to learn for our nationalist movement to succeed. Southerners are forced to realize that we now face a stark, brutal choice. If we remain good little yankees, they will accept nothing less than the total obliteration of everything that makes us Southerners. We are a nation or we are nothing.

Please note I said that we ARE a nation. All the time that Ireland belonged to Britain, it was still a nation. When Poland was repeatedly partitioned between other powers in Europe, it was still a nation.

We are not a people seeking to become a nation. We are a nation seeking our freedom. With this defeat, the eventual success of our movement should begin.