by George Rasley, ConservativeHQ.com Editor
The first political book I read was Barry Goldwater’s “Conscience of a Conservative.” It was my Mother’s copy that she received while she was active in the Young Republicans and the Goldwater for President movement in the early 1960s and I still have it.
You can read Goldwater’s Conscience of a Conservative free through this link and I highly recommend it.
This slim paperback, ghostwritten by L. Brent Bozell, Jr., was a defining work for the modern conservative movement and along with the Sharron Statement stands as one of the best statements of the foundational principles of the conservative movement.
To understand how importance Goldwater’s book was it is important to understand the milieu in which it was written.
The year was 1960 and in contrast to Nixon’s “me-too-ism” during the 1960 presidential campaign, Goldwater was traveling around the country as chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, selling his new brand of conservatism.
The book was intended, Senator Goldwater said, “to awaken the American people to a realization of how far we had moved from the old constitutional concepts toward the new welfare state.” The book quickly went through twenty printings and sold 3.5 million copies, and it is still in print.
As CHQ Chairman Richard Viguerie recounted in his book TAKEOVER, The Conscience of a Conservative “was our new testament,” Pat Buchanan later said. “It contained the core beliefs of our political faith, it told us why we had failed, what we must do. We read it, memorized it, quoted it. . . . For those of us wandering in the arid desert of Eisenhower Republicanism, it hit like a rifle shot.”
The book’s strong statement of the dangers of, and opposition to, world Communism helped define the conservative movement as the natural political home of first- and second-generation Eastern Europeans, Cubans, and Asians who had fled Communist revolutions in their homelands, and solidified Barry Goldwater as the premier spokesman for rolling back the Communist tide. During the 1960 campaign, Goldwater visited almost every state and appeared at dozens of party conventions and smaller gatherings.
That experience put him in contact with grassroots Republicans all over the country. After Nixon’s defeat, and more than two years before the 1964 election, “Draft Goldwater for President committees” were formed in large measure as a response to L. Brent Bozell’s eloquent framing of Goldwater’s beliefs and principles.
Which leads us to Senator Jeff Flake’s new book, whose title is also “The Conscience of a Conservative” and while the Flake book is a publicity-seeking rip-off of Goldwater’s title it has neither the intellectual weight, nor the principles, nor the eloquence of Goldwater’s original.
Far from being a cogent statement of conservative principles it is more a hypocritical book-length screed against President Trump and, more tellingly, against the millions of Americans who voted for Trump and his agenda.
Indeed, L. Brent Bozell III, President of the Media Research Center and son of Goldwater’s ghostwriter L. Brent Bozell, Jr. has issued a fiery statement denouncing Flake as a hypocrite and imposter:
On behalf of my late father and my family, I am denouncing Senator Jeff Flake and his new book, dishonestly titled, “Conscience of a Conservative.”
Since entering the Senate in 2013, Jeff Flake has, time and again, proven he is part of the indulgent hypocrisy in Washington. While he waxes poetically about conservative principles, his Conservative Review Liberty score is an abysmal 53%, also known as: ‘F.’ In 2013, I watched first-hand as Flake refused to sign a letter pledging to defund ObamaCare, among his many betrayals to conservatism. Jeff Flake is neither a conservative nor does he have a conscience.
As every conservative leader knows, my father, L. Brent Bozell, Jr., ghost-wrote “Conscience of a Conservative” for Barry Goldwater. While the Goldwater Institute may own the rights to the book’s title, neither the organization nor Senator Flake have the right to unjustifiably trade on my father’s work. “Conscience of a Conservative” is the greatest selling polemic in history, and Senator Flake is trading on its reputation to shamelessly promote himself and disguise his own conservative deficiencies. My father would be appalled to see this fraud as the author of the so-called “sequel,” which it most certainly is not.
The media need to know, when reporting on Senator Flake and his “book,” that the author is a deceiver out for personal and financial gain. I also call on my conservative brethren to denounce this impostor, who dishonorably claims to speak for conservatism, in the strongest possible terms.
Mr. Bozell is right, but he is, in our view, too kind to Senator Flake.
Robert Robb, of The (Arizona) Republic is more precise in his analysis of Flake’s failure:
…I believe Flake loses his way by failing to distinguish between conservatism and the Republican Party. While conservatives have sought to advance political aims through the Republican Party, the Republican Party has never been a truly conservative party.
The Republican Party has only nominated two true conservatives for president: Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.
A truly conservative party would have no trouble replacing the Obamacare mandates with individual choice in health insurance and reining in Medicaid costs to taxpayers. Yet Republicans can’t muster a simple majority in the U.S. Senate to do that.
Trump’s populist nationalism was always a part of the Republican coalition.
Flake has been in Congress, first in the House and now in the Senate, since 2001. He has been part and parcel to everything that is wrong with the Republican Party and why it “has never been a truly conservative party” – the Bush bailouts, the failure to stop Obama’s illegal executive acts, and the failure to use the constitutional powers of Congress to rein-in spending and the growth of government during the Bush and Obama years.
In short Jeff Flake is not and never has stood for the conservative principles he now claims to rally Americans to embrace.
Perhaps the liberal New Republic best summed our view of Flake and his book, “Flake’s conservatism is mostly a mix of worn clichés about self-reliance (learned, as they so often are, on a rugged Arizona ranch) and freedom. In terms of policies, Flake is an unrepentant free trader and globalist. He is a pro-immigration Republican… He is what you would call a Jeb Bush Republican, which is probably the loneliest thing there is to be.”
Flake is lonely because that’s hardly the definition of a conservative or a man of conscience. We urge CHQ readers to skip Flake’s screed against the voters he has failed as a member of Congress and read the original Goldwater – Bozell version of Conscience of a Conservative instead.
Reprinted with permission from ConservativeHQ.com