Sunday, September 17, 2006

CC Goldwater on what her grandfather would make of today’s GOP

Goldwater Today
CC Goldwater on what her grandfather would make of today’s GOP.
By CC Goldwater
Special to Newsweek

Sept. 16, 2006 - As the granddaughter of Barry Goldwater, I am often asked what I think my grandfather would have felt about the direction of today’s Republican Party. What I found in the past year I spent making a documentary about the man, “Mr. Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater,” is that my grandfather is one person for whom it is pretty hard to speak. He was vocal about his opinions, which he presented with a rare clarity.

Still, those opinions have echoes today, and as the documentary shows, while my grandfather didn’t leave his party, his party has left him. Though he’s often depicted as the father of conservatism, Barry Goldwater would be considered a moderate today. He was firmly pro-choice, a supporter of gay rights and, in his later years, said that he thought it was okay for gays to serve in the military.

Fundamentally, it’s clear that Barry would not have been comfortable with the increasing influence of the Christian right over the GOP. My grandfather would have been appalled by the whole political grandstanding of the Terri Schiavo mess.

The Constitution was Barry’s bible. He felt strongly about what it represented and the guidance it gave to establishing our government. And he thought that most U.S. citizens took it for granted. “Most Americans have never even read it and that’s a shame,” he once said. “Kids are not learning about it because it’s not honored the way it used to be.”

We need to remember the true values and freedoms the Constitution guarantees us. The main lesson I learned from my grandfather: “Government needs to stay out of personal lives, and do the job that we entrusted them with—to run and govern our country efficiently and truthfully, according to the laws our forefathers crafted.” That’s a message worth remembering today.

Throughout my life, I was encouraged to be honest and truthful to all those I came in contact with. We need to encourage our youth to do the same. That begins with the people we look up to, our parents and government. We have to have something that we can trust and believe in and not fear. “Trust and fear cannot coexist at the same time,” Barry said. Anyone who motivates our decisions by fear cannot restore the principles of a country founded in freedom. “I will support whoever is running our country as long as they abide by those principles and will run our country and not our lives.”

CC Goldwater was five when her grandfather, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, ran for President in 1964. Her documentary, “Mr. Conservative,” features interviews with major public figures and never-before-seen home movies and photos. It premieres Monday, Sept. 18 at 9 p.m., ET, on HBO.