American Proscenium

In Your Heart, You Know He’s Still Right

The 50th anniversary of Barry Goldwater’s 1964 run for the presidency has been surprisingly muted in a year of anniversaries: 50 years also for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the British Invasion; 75 years for the beginning of World War II; 100 years for the beginning of World War I.

Under the slogan, “In Your Heart You Know He’s Right,” Goldwater suffered a monumental defeat at the hands of Lyndon Johnson, who garnered 61.9 percent of the vote, more than any presidential candidate except George Washington.  LBJ enjoyed a booming economy from his tax cuts earlier that year—paid for by actually cutting pork in the federal budget, not by running a deficit.  The death of President Kennedy a year before left the country in no mood to change presidents again.

And Johnson ran a vicious campaign, painting Goldwater, who believed in a strong defense against communism, as a mad bomber who would plunge the country into war.  The culmination was the infamous “Daisy” attack ad LBJ launched like a 50-megaton hydrogen bomb.  It showed a little girl in a field picking daisy petals, counting each one.  As a man’s voice counts down to zero, she looks up.  An atomic bomb explodes.  We then hear LBJ’s voice-over: “These are the stakes.  To make a world in which all of God’s children can live, or to go into the dark.  We must either...

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