December 20, 2007
When Tim Russert asked Mitt Romney about the Mormon Church’s politically incorrect record on race, a teary eyed Romney urged that we should look at the actions of his father, former governor George Romney, rather than that of the church. Romney proudly proclaimed, “my dad walked out of the Republican convention in 1964 in San Francisco in part because Barry Goldwater in his speech gave my dad the impression that he was someone who would be weak on civil rights.”
Mitt Romney has spent much of his campaign attempting to reinvent himself as being a genuine conservative rather than a liberal Republican from New England. If Mitt Romney wishes to appeal to his father’s attacks on Goldwater as proof of his own views on race relations, then it should also reflect on his conservatism, or lack thereof.
In addition to walking out of the 1964 convention, George Romney refused to endorse Goldwater. He accused the conservative hero of cozying up to Southern Segregationists and being indifferent to the plight of African Americans. The elder Romney at least tried to maintain that he was not accusing Goldwater of being a racist, but stated that there was an “inconsistency between [Goldwater’s] personal record and public record.”
What was Goldwater’s public record on civil rights? He’d favored the integration of the Arizona National Guard. As a member of the Phoenix city council, he”d promoted desegregation of public facilities. Goldwater voted for national civil rights laws that dealt with narrowly defined voting rights that were in the government’s constitutional jurisdiction. What he opposed was the federal government getting involved in every single racial issue that occurs anywhere in the United States. In Conscience of a Conservative, he [or Brent Bozell] wrote:
“I believe that the problem of race relations, like all social and cultural problems, is best handled by the people directly concerned. Social and cultural change, however desirable, should not be effected by the engines of national power. Let us, through persuasion and education, seek to improve institutions we deem defective. But let us, in doing so, respect the orderly processes of the law.”
What outraged George Romney was Goldwater’s opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that banned racial discrimination in employment. Goldwater’s main concern was that allowing the government to determine the motivations of a business owner would be nearly impossible, so it would allow bureaucrats to arbitrarily say who is discriminating or not. This almost immediately led to intrusive policies such as racial quotas and “disparate impact.”
George Romney’s unfounded condemnation of Barry Goldwater is just one of many instances of Rockefeller Republicans aligning with the left to attack real conservatives—from Robert Taft to all the way up to Pat Buchanan. That Mitt Romney is willing to appeal to his father’s slander tells us he is aligned with Rockefeller establishment instead of the Goldwater (and Reagan) wing of the GOP.
Fortunately there is at least one Republican candidate who follows Goldwater’s wisdom. In 2004, Ron Paul was the lone dissenter from H.Res. 676, which celebrated the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Paul gave a speech where he stated that any improvement on race relations is “due to changes in public attitudes and private efforts” not government bureaucrats.
Rather than improving race relations, the law “unconstitutionally expanded federal power, thus reducing liberty. Furthermore, by prompting raced-based quotas, this law undermined efforts to achieve a color-blind society and increased racial strife.”
This is just one of many examples that demonstrates how Ron Paul is a true conservative who puts principles before political correctness and that Mitt Romney is just another New England liberal.