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The Most Interesting Barry Goldwater Quotes

The Most Interesting Barry Goldwater Quotes

Barry Goldwater is an iconic personality from American history. He served as a Senator from his home state of Arizona for five terms between 1953 to 1965 and 1969 to 1987. He was the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States in 1964. He is the politician that is credited with sparking the resurgence of American conservative political movement in the 1960s. His impact on the libertarian movement was also significant and despite his loss in the presidential election to Lyndon B. Johnson, his influence is still significantly credited in history.

Clearly, Barry Goldwater adorned a lot of hats and had a lot of experiences as well as accomplishments to share with the world. Although he passed away on May 29th, 1998, at the age of 89 due to complications from a stroke he had earlier, Barry’s lessons will continue to live on through the quotes he has left us with. Here are some of his most resounding words that act as a flaming torch of his illustrious legacy of over 6 decades.

Rousing Barry Goldwater Quotes

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
“You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.”
“To disagree, one doesn’t have to be disagreeable.”
“If you don’t mind smelling like peanut butter for two or three days, peanut butter is darn good shaving cream.”
“The only summit meeting that can succeed is the one that does not take place.”

Barry Goldwater quotes

“When I’m not a politician, I’ll be dead. Barry Goldwater I will offer a choice, not an echo.”
“I think any man in business would be foolish to fool around with his secretary. If it’s somebody else’s secretary, fine.”
“I wouldn’t trust Nixon from here to that phone.”
“I won’t say that the papers misquote me, but I sometimes wonder where Christianity would be today if some of those reporters had been Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”
“It’s a great country, where anybody can grow up to be president… except me.”
“Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.”
“The income tax created more criminals than any other single act of government.”
“I think every good Christian ought to kick Falwell right in the ass.”
“You don’t need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.”
“I could have ended the war in a month. I could have made North Vietnam look like a mud puddle.”

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Barry Goldwater quotes

“You’ve got to forget about this civilian. Whenever you drop bombs, you’re going to hit civilians.”
“Hubert Humphrey talks so fast that listening to him is like trying to read Playboy magazine with your wife turning the pages.”
“Where is the politician who has not promised to fight to the death for lower taxes- and who has not proceeded to vote for the very spending projects that make tax cuts impossible?”
“American business has just forgotten the importance of selling.”
“If everybody in this town connected with politics had to leave town because of chasing women and drinking, you would have no government.”
“The need for ‘economic growth that we hear about so much about these days will be achieved, not by the government harnessing the nation’s economic forces, but by emancipating them.”
“The currently favored instrument of collectivization is the Welfare State. The collectivists have not abandoned their ultimate goal-to subordinate the individual to the State, but their strategy has changed.”

Barry Goldwater quotes

“Throughout history, government has proved to be the chief instrument for thwarting man’s liberty. Government represents power in the hands of some men to control and regulate the lives of other men. And power, as Lord Acton said, corrupts men. ‘Absolute power,’ he added, ‘corrupts absolutely.’
“This country has grown great and strong and prosperous by placing major reliance on a free economy…Private property, free competition, hard work-these have been our greatest tools.”
“We have encouraged the teaching profession to be more concerned with how a subject is taught than with what is taught. Most important of all: in our anxiety to ‘improve’ the world and insure ‘progress’ we have permitted our schools to become laboratories for social and economic change according to the predilections of the professional educators.”
“It is the fashion these days to say that responsibility for education ‘traditionally’ rests with the local community-as a prelude to proposing that an exception to the tradition in the form of federal aid.”
“We have forgotten that the proper function of the school is to transmit the cultural heritage of one generation to the next generation, and to so train the minds of the new generation as to make them capable of absorbing ancient learning and applying it to the problem of its own day.”
“We have forgotten that purpose of education. Or better: we have forgotten for whom education is intended. The function of our schools is not to educate or elevate society; but rather to educate individuals and equip them with the knowledge that will enable them to take care of society’s needs.”
“We have forgotten that a society progresses only to the extent that it produces leaders that are capable of guiding and inspiring progress. And we cannot develop such leaders unless our standards of education are geared to excellence instead of mediocrity. “
“Release the holders of state from any restraints other than those they wish to impose upon themselves, and you are swinging down the well-travelled road to absolutism.”
“[N]ote that the very instrument by which these desirable ends are achieved can be the instrument for achieving undesirable ends- that government can, instead of extending freedom, restrict freedom.”
“Can any of us refute the wisdom of Madison and the other framers? Can anyone look at the carnage in Iran, the bloodshed in Northern Ireland or the bombs bursting in Lebanon and yet question the dangers of injecting religious issues into the affairs of state?”
“By maintaining the separation of church and state, the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars. Throughout our two hundred plus years, public policy debate has focused on political and economic issues, on which there can be compromise….”
“The oldest philosophy in the world is conservatism, and I go clear back to the first Greeks. … When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”
“I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible.”
“I am frankly sick and tired of the political preachers telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C, and D. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?”

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Barry Goldwater’s Vision

Barry Goldwater was an aspiring figure for many at the time and continues to be so today. For the younger generation looking to get accustomed with you the man was and what he stood for, here is a short video that details his vision. Being a champion of traditional American values of individual liberty and economic freedom, he was the man who would not stop until he got what he wanted. Watch the video here:


Senator Barry Goldwater was a prolific man who stood for many things that he believed in. He said it himself that the day I’m not a politician, I’ll be dead. He stood true to his words with his public engagements ending after his massive stroke made him unable to continue. Just two years later, he passed away. He will be remembered for many things including his stances towards fundamental values that are of great importance to the masses.

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Image Credits

Featured Image: United States Senate, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Body Image 1:  U.S. Air Force Archive, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Body Image 2: “Congressional leaders unveil the newest addition to National Statuary Hall: a bronze statue of Senator Barry Goldwater.” by SpeakerBoehner is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Body Image 3:  “Barry Goldwater statue” by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0