Between the Lines

Conservative Origins

The year was 1964.  I was 13 years old.  Sitting in the family room of my parents’ home in Yorktown Heights, New York, with the TV on, I picked up the envelope that had arrived in the mail that day.  I had sent away for information to all sorts of political parties and organizations in a very conscious process of determining what my political views would be.  Materials poured in from the Communist Party, the Socialist Labor Party, Technocracy, Inc., and a number of conservative groups as well.  I opened the envelope, and out fell a copy of Young Socialist, the Socialist Workers Party’s youth newspaper.  As I sat there reading it, with the television on low volume, I heard a phrase that made me look up at the figure on the screen: “individual freedom.”

I put down the Young Socialist—already bored by the simplistic writing and the garish graphics designed to appeal to “young people”—and turned up the volume.  Who was this guy on the idiot box talking about “individual freedom”?

It was Barry Goldwater, who was running for the GOP’s presidential nomination.  As I listened to him talk about the rapidly expanding powers of the federal government, the erosion of our constitutionally guaranteed liberties, and the depredations of a tyrannical IRS, I realized I didn’t need to read the Socialist Labor Party’s...

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