OTD in history… July 16, 1964, Conservative Barry Goldwater accepts Republican presidential nomination

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OTD in history… July 16, 1964, Conservative Barry Goldwater accepts Republican presidential nomination

By Bonnie K. Goodman, BA, MLIS

Source: Getty Images

On this day in history July 16, 1964, the Republican Party nominates Conservative Barry Goldwater, a Senator from Arizona for president; Goldwater ushered in the Republican Party’s longtime association with conservatism. The primaries pit Goldwater against moderate Nelson Rockefeller of New York, with Goldwater emerging with enough support for the nomination, however, throughout the campaign the two factions of the party remained fractured. In his acceptance speech, Goldwater claimed, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” The Democrats led by incumbent Lyndon B. Johnson portrayed Goldwater as an extremist, notably depicting that to the public with their Daisy commercial, claiming Goldwater would start a nuclear war.

Johnson would go on to win the election with a landslide and the largest share of the popular vote in modern American history. Despite his loss, Goldwater’s nomination realigned the Republican Party geographically, with the Sunbelt and the South turning Republican red after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The real star of the Republican presidential campaign in 1964 was former actor Ronald Reagan, who delivered his televised Time for Choosing speech in October, launching his political career. Goldwater’s nomination started the Republican Party’s alignment with the modern conservative movement, leading to Reagan’s election in 1980 and has remained a driving force in Republican politics.

READ MORE

Perlstein, Rick. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus. New York: Nation Books, 2009.

Bonnie K. Goodman has a BA and MLIS from McGill University and has done graduate work in religion at Concordia University. She is a journalist, librarian, historian & editor, and a former Features Editor at the History News Network & reporter at Examiner.com where she covered politics, universities, religion and news. She has a dozen years experience in education & political journalism.

 

Goldwater’s 1964 Acceptance Speech

 

Source: WaPo

Provided by the Arizona Historical Foundation

To my good friend and great Republican, Dick Nixon, and your charming wife, Pat; my running mate and that wonderful Republican who has served us well for so long, Bill Miller and his wife, Stephanie; to Thurston Morton who has done such a commendable job in chairmaning this Convention; to Mr. Herbert Hoover, who I hope is watching; and to that great American and his wife, General and Mrs. Eisenhower; to my own wife, my family, and to all of my fellow Republicans here assembled, and Americans across this great Nation.

From this moment, united and determined, we will go forward together, dedicated to the ultimate and undeniable greatness of the whole man. Together we will win.

I accept your nomination with a deep sense of humility. I accept, too, the responsibility that goes with it, and I seek your continued help and your continued guidance. My fellow Republicans, our cause is too great for any man to feel worthy of it. Our task would be too great for any man, did he not have with him the heart and the hands of this great Republican Party, and I promise you tonight that every fiber of my being is consecrated to our cause; that nothing shall be lacking from the struggle that can be brought to it by enthusiasm, by devotion, and plain hard work. In this world no person, no party can guarantee anything, but what we can do and what we shall do is to deserve victory, and victory will be ours.

The good Lord raised this mighty Republic to be a home for the brave and to flourish as the land of the free-not to stagnate in the swampland of collectivism, not to cringe before the bully of communism.

Now, my fellow Americans, the tide has been running against freedom. Our people have followed false prophets. We must, and we shall, return to proven ways– not because they are old, but because they are true. We must, and we shall, set the tide running again in the cause of freedom. And this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom – freedom made orderly for this nation by our constitutional government; freedom under a government limited by laws of nature and of nature’s God; freedom – balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the slavery of the prison cell; balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the license of the mob and of the jungle.

Now, we Americans understand freedom. We have earned it, we have lived for it, and we have died for it. This Nation and its people are freedom’s model in a searching world. We can be freedom’s missionaries in a doubting world. But, ladies and gentlemen, first we must renew freedom’s mission in our own hearts and in our own homes.

During four futile years, the administration which we shall replace has distorted and lost that faith. It has talked and talked and talked and talked the words of freedom. Now, failures cement the wall of shame in Berlin. Failures blot the sands of shame at the Bay of Pigs. Failures mark the slow death of freedom in Laos. Failures infest the jungles of Vietnam. And failures haunt the houses of our once great alliances and undermine the greatest bulwark ever erected by free nations – the NATO community. Failures proclaim lost leadership, obscure purpose, weakening wills, and the risk of inciting our sworn enemies to new aggressions and to new excesses. Because of this administration we are tonight a world divided – we are a Nation becalmed. We have lost the brisk pace of diversity and the genius of individual creativity. We are plodding at a pace set by centralized planning, red tape, rules without responsibility, and regimentation without recourse.

Rather than useful jobs in our country, people have been offered bureaucratic “make work,” rather than moral leadership, they have been given bread and circuses, spectacles, and, yes, they have even been given scandals. Tonight there is violence in our streets, corruption in our highest offices, aimlessness among our youth, anxiety among our elders and there is a virtual despair among the many who look beyond material success for the inner meaning of their lives. Where examples of morality should be set, the opposite is seen. Small men, seeking great wealth or power, have too often and too long turned even the highest levels of public service into mere personal opportunity.

Now, certainly, simple honesty is not too much to demand of men in government. We find it in most. Republicans demand it from everyone. They demand it from everyone no matter how exalted or protected his position might be. The growing menace in our country tonight, to personal safety, to life, to limb and property, in homes, in churches, on the playgrounds, and places of business, particularly in our great cities, is the mounting concern, or should be, of every thoughtful citizen in the United States.

Security from domestic violence, no less than from foreign aggression, is the most elementary and fundamental purpose of any government, and a government that cannot fulfill that purpose is one that cannot long command the loyalty of its citizens. History shows us – demonstrates that nothing – nothing prepares the way for tyranny more than the failure of public officials to keep the streets from bullies and marauders.

Now, we Republicans see all this as more, much more, than the rest: of mere political differences or mere political mistakes. We see this as the result of a fundamentally and absolutely wrong view of man, his nature and his destiny. Those who seek to live your lives for you, to take your liberties in return for relieving you of yours, those who elevate the state and downgrade the citizen must see ultimately a world in which earthly power can be substituted for divine will, and this Nation was founded upon the rejection of that notion and upon the acceptance of God as the author of freedom.

Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed. Their mistaken course stems from false notions of equality, ladies and gentlemen. 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.

Fellow Republicans, it is the cause of Republicanism to resist concentrations of power, private or public, which enforce such conformity and inflict such despotism. It is the cause of Republicanism to ensure that power remains in the hands of the people. And, so help us God, that is exactly what a Republican president will do with the help of a Republican Congress.

It is further the cause of Republicanism to restore a clear understanding of the tyranny of man over man in the world at large. It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the illusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don’t rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression – and this is hogwash.

It is further the cause of Republicanism to remind ourselves, and the world, that only the strong can remain free, that only the strong can keep the peace.

Now, I needn’t remind you, or my fellow Americans regardless of party, that Republicans have shouldered this hard responsibility and marched in this cause before. It was Republican leadership under Dwight Eisenhower that kept the peace, and passed along to this administration the mightiest arsenal for defense the world has ever known. And I needn’t remind you that it was the strength and the unbelievable will of the Eisenhower years that kept the peace by using our strength, by using it in the Formosa Straits and in Lebanon and by showing it courageously at all times.

It was during those Republican years that the thrust of Communist imperialism was blunted. It was during those years of Republican leadership that this world moved closer, not to war, but closer to peace, than at any other time in the three decades just passed.

And I needn’t remind you – but I will – that it’s been during Democratic years that our strength to deter war has stood still, and even gone into a planned decline. It has been during Democratic years that we have weakly stumbled into conflict, timidly refusing to draw our own lines against aggression, deceitfully refusing to tell even our people of our full participation, and tragically, letting our finest men die on battlefields (unmarked by purpose, unmarked by pride or the prospect of victory).

Yesterday it was Korea. Tonight it is Vietnam. Make no bones of this. Don’t try to sweep this under the rug. We are at war in Vietnam. And yet the President, who is Commander-in-Chief of our forces, refuses to say – refuses to say, mind you, whether or not the objective over there is victory. And his Secretary of Defense continues to mislead and misinform the American people, and enough of it has gone by.

And I needn’t remind you, but I will; it has been during Democratic years that a billion persons were cast into Communist captivity and their fate cynically sealed.

Today in our beloved country we have an administration which seems eager to deal with communism in every coin known – from gold to wheat, from consulates to confidence, and even human freedom itself.

The Republican cause demands that we brand communism as a principal disturber of peace in the world today. Indeed, we should brand it as the only significant disturber of the peace, and we must make clear that until its goals of conquest are absolutely renounced and its rejections with all nations tempered, communism and the governments it now controls are enemies of every man on earth who is or wants to be free.

We here in America can keep the peace only if we remain vigilant and only if we remain strong. Only if we keep our eyes open and keep our guard up can we prevent war. And I want to make this abundantly clear – I don’t intend to let peace or freedom be torn from our grasp because of lack of strength or lack of will – and that I promise you Americans.

I believe that we must look beyond the defense of freedom today to its extension tomorrow. I believe that the communism which boasts it will bury us will, instead, give way to the forces of freedom. And I can see in the distant and yet recognizable future the outlines of a world worthy our dedication, our every risk, our every effort, our every sacrifice along the way. Yes, a world that will redeem the suffering of those who will be liberated from tyranny. I can see and I suggest that all thoughtful men must contemplate the flowering of an Atlantic civilization, the whole world of Europe unified and free, trading openly across its borders, communicating openly across the world. This is a goal far, far more meaningful than a moon shot.

It’s a truly inspiring goal for all free men to set for themselves during the latter half of the twentieth century. I can also see – and all free men must thrill to – the events of this Atlantic civilization joined by its great ocean highway to the United States. What a destiny, what a destiny can be ours to stand as a great central pillar linking Europe, the Americans and the venerable and vital peoples and cultures of the Pacific. I can see a day when all the Americas, North and South, will be linked in a mighty system, a system in which the errors and misunderstandings of the past will be submerged one by one in a rising tide of prosperity and interdependence. We know that the misunderstandings of centuries are not to be wiped away in a day or wiped away in an hour. But we pledge – we pledge that human sympathy – what our neighbors to the South call that attitude of “simpatico” – no less than enlightened self’-interest will be our guide.

I can see this Atlantic civilization galvanizing and guiding emergent nations everywhere.

I know this freedom is not the fruit of every soil. I know that our own freedom was achieved through centuries, by unremitting efforts by brave and wise men. I know that the road to freedom is a long and a challenging road. I know also that some men may walk away from it, that some men resist challenge, accepting the false security of governmental paternalism.

And I pledge that the America I envision in the years ahead will extend its hand in health, in teaching and in cultivation, so that all new nations will be at least encouraged to go our way, so that they will not wander down the dark alleys of tyranny or to the dead-end streets of collectivism. My fellow Republicans, we do no man a service by hiding freedom’s light under a bushel of mistaken humility.

I seek an American proud of its past, proud of its ways, proud of its dreams, and determined actively to proclaim them. But our example to the world must, like charity, begin at home.

In our vision of a good and decent future, free and peaceful, there must be room for deliberation of the energy and talent of the individual – otherwise our vision is blind at the outset.

We must assure a society here which, while never abandoning the needy or forsaking the helpless, nurtures incentives and opportunity for the creative and the productive. We must know the whole good is the product of many single contributions.

I cherish a day when our children once again will restore as heroes the sort of men and women who – unafraid and undaunted – pursue the truth, strive to cure disease, subdue and make fruitful our natural environment and produce the inventive engines of production, science, and technology.

This Nation, whose creative people have enhanced this entire span of history, should again thrive upon the greatness of all those things which we, as individual citizens, can and should do. During Republican years, this again will be a nation of men and women, of families proud of their role, jealous of their responsibilities, unlimited in their aspirations – a Nation where all who can will be self-reliant.

We Republicans see in our constitutional form of government the great framework which assures the orderly but dynamic fulfillment of the whole man, and we see the whole man as the great reason for instituting orderly government in the first place.

We see, in private property and in economy based upon and fostering private property, the one way to make government a durable ally of the whole man, rather than his determined enemy. We see in the sanctity of private property the only durable foundation for constitutional government in a free society. And beyond that, we see, in cherished diversity of ways, diversity of thoughts, of motives and accomplishments. We do not seek to lead anyone’s life for him – we seek only to secure his rights and to guarantee him opportunity to strive, with government performing only those needed and constitutionally sanctioned tasks which cannot otherwise be performed.

We Republicans seek a government that attends to its inherent responsibilities of maintaining a stable monetary and fiscal climate, encouraging a free and a competitive economy and enforcing law and order. Thus do we seek inventiveness, diversity, and creativity within a stable order, for we Republicans define government’s role where needed at many, many levels, preferably through the one closest to the people involved.

Our towns and our cities, then our counties, then our states, then our regional contacts – and only then, the national government. That, let me remind you, is the ladder of liberty, built by decentralized power. On it also we must have balance between the branches of government at every level.

Balance, diversity, creativity – these are the elements of Republican equation. Republicans agree, Republicans agree heartily to disagree on many, many of their applications, but we have never disagreed on the basic fundamental issues of why you and I are Republicans.

This is a party, this Republican Party, a Party for free men, not for blind followers, and not for conformists.

Back in 1858 Abraham Lincoln said this of the Republican party – and I quote him, because he probably could have said it during the last week or so: “It was composed of strained, discordant, and even hostile elements” in 1858. Yet all of these elements agreed on one paramount objective: To arrest the progress of slavery, and place it in the course of ultimate extinction.

Today, as then, but more urgently and more broadly than then, the task of preserving and enlarging freedom at home and safeguarding it from the forces of tyranny abroad is great enough to challenge all our resources and to require all our strength. Anyone who joins us in all sincerity, we welcome. Those who do not care for our cause, we don’t expect to enter our ranks in any case. And let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels.

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.

The beauty of the very system we Republicans are pledged to restore and revitalize, the beauty of this Federal system of ours is in its reconciliation of diversity with unity. We must not see malice in honest differences of opinion, and no matter how great, so long as they are not inconsistent with the pledges we have given to each other in and through our Constitution. Our Republican cause is not to level out the world or make its people conform in computer regimented sameness. Our Republican cause is to free our people and light the way for liberty throughout the world.

Ours is a very human cause for very humane goals.

This Party, its good people, and its unquestionable devotion to freedom, will not fulfill the purposes of this campaign which we launch here now until our cause has won the day, inspired the world, and shown the way to a tomorrow worthy of all our yesteryears.

I repeat, I accept your nomination with humbleness, with pride, and you and I are going to fight for the goodness of our land. Thank you.

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History Buzz September 9, 2011: New C-Span Series “The Contenders” Profiling Failed Presidential Candidates that Changed and Impacted Political History

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

Associated Press

William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate at the turn of the 20th century.

HISTORY ON TV:

The Contenders Premiere

Fri., 8 – 9:30 pm ET on C-SPAN
Henry Clay
LIVE from his Ashland Estate in Lexington, Kentucky

As the 2012 presidential campaign takes shape, we’ll give historical context to our current politics by taking a look back. This Friday night, C-SPAN debuts the first LIVE program in our new history series The Contenders.

Originating from Henry Clay’s home in Lexington, Kentucky, we’ll explore the life, times, and political legacy of a man known simultaneously by his contemporaries as “The Great Compromiser” and “The Dictator” — and perhaps the most powerful politician of his time. Helping us to understand his relevancy today, his almost 50 years in politics, his support for both slavery and keeping the Union together, his quests for the presidency, and a time period covering the first half of the 19th century, we’ll be joined at Ashland Estate by:

· Kentucky State Historian James Klotter, who is currently writing a book on Clay’s presidential aspirations

· Alicestyne Turly, history professor at Louisville University and an expert on the issue of slavery in Kentucky compared to the rest of the country

· Avery Malone, tour director at Ashland Estate

To help connect the discussion to today, we’ll also see clips from House Speaker John Boehner, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Kentucky Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul talking about Clay and his relevancy almost 160 years after his death.
For more information on the series and our Contenders, go to www.c-span.org/thecontenders where you’ll find videos, biographical information, election results, helpful links, and more on each of these 14 Contenders featured in the series:
Henry Clay, James G. Blaine, William Jennings Bryan, Eugene Debs, Charles Evans Hughes, Al Smith, Wendell Willkie, Thomas E. Dewey, Adlai Stevenson, Barry Goldwater, Hubert Humphrey, George Wallace, George McGovern, and Ross Perot.
Watch this Friday at 8 pm ET on C-SPAN, c-span.org, and C-SPAN Radio. The program re-airs Friday night at 11 pm on C-SPAN.

HISTORIANS’ COMMENTS

‘The Contenders’ a Nod to Failed Candidates Who Still Changed History

Source: PBS Newshour, 9-1-11

Mp3 Download

SUMMARY

A new C-SPAN series starting this month called “The Contenders” profiles failed presidential candidates who still managed to change political history. Gwen Ifill discusses the presidential race losers with George Mason University’s Richard Norton Smith and RealClearPolitics.com’s Carl Cannon.

U.S. presidential campaigns always produce a winner — 43 men have served, one of them twice, as the nation’s commander in chief.History books pay less attention to the losers, even though many had an outsized impact on the election and on the national debate. A good number of them turned out to be ahead of their times.

Beginning Sept. 9, a new C-SPAN series titled “The Contenders: They Ran and Lost but Changed Political History,” will examine 14 of the losers who turned out to be influential, even in defeat.

Richard Norton Smith, scholar in residence at George Mason University, is an adviser to the series, and Carl Cannon is Washington editor for the political website RealClearPolitics.com.

RICHARD NORTON SMITH, George Mason University:

Well, it has famously been said, the winners write the history books. And there’s a lot of truth to that.

Turns out winning and losing are relative terms. Of these 14 people, there are a number — we could debate who — who went on, perhaps, ultimately to have greater impact than the people who — quote — “won.”

More important, there are people who lost in the immediate sense, but who turned out not only to be ahead of their time, but in fact were catalysts for political transformations, the most recent example certainly being Barry Goldwater, who carried six states against Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and yet who planted the seeds of a conservative movement that arguably has yet to crest…..

I think Henry Clay may be the best president we never had.

Well, Abraham Lincoln said, “He was my beau ideal of a statesman.”He was a constructive force first part of the 19th century. He’s the bridge between Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln, the idea that government had a significant role to play. I mean, it’s curious. Conservatives in the 19th century believed in using government as an agent of capitalist development….

Clay was like the speaker of the House on the day he arrived in the House of Representatives, he, of course, known as the great compromiser. The last one in 1850 arguably delayed the Civil War for 10 years, which gave the North an opportunity to become that much stronger, and, equally important, allowed Abraham Lincoln to emerge from obscurity….
Charles Evans Hughes…. A very successful governor of New York, reformer beginning in the 20th century. Then he was put on the Supreme Court, left the court in 1916 to run a very close race against Woodrow Wilson.

He went back to service in the 1920s as secretary of state under two presidents. But his greatest contribution, arguably, his greatest historical significance, came in 1937 when FDR tried famously to pack the Supreme Court. Hughes was then chief justice. Employing all of his old political wiles, he almost single-handedly managed to thwart the president’s effort to change the court in a way that I think a lot of people today, and certainly even then, regarded as radical….

Tom Dewey, someone who tends to be written off as the guy who…. … who lost to Harry Truman.

If Tom Dewey had been elected in 1948, I would — I think you would never have heard of Joe McCarthy.

One, Dewey is a prosecutor. The first national political debate in America was in 1948. Tom Dewey in Oregon against Harold Stassen, the question being, shall we outlaw the Communist Party of America? And Dewey, ironically, the old prosecutor, took the civil libertarian position.

But, beyond that, Dewey was a boss. He was used to having his way. Joe McCarthy wouldn’t have been allowed to become the phenomenon that he had. Dewey would have taken care of it, and Dewey would have cut McCarthy off at the knees.

 

Richard Norton Smith: Don’t Call Them ‘Losers’

Source: NYT, 9-8-11

On cable news these days Republicans are warring for attention, as the presidential primary season reaches a boiling point, and Democrats are wondering how to win despite a wretched economy. Meanwhile the C-SPAN staff is doing what almost no one else on television does: reaching back into history for campaign lessons.

Associated Press

Thomas E. Dewey was twice nominated for president.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The first person to be profiled is Henry Clay, the successful speaker of the House and unsuccessful Whig Party candidate for president in 1844.

Underwood and Underwood

Charles Evans Hughes waged a “not very effective campaign” for president in 1916.

Associated Press

George S. McGovern, the senator who was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972.

But it’s doing so in an unusual way. On Friday night that public-affairs channel will start a 14-week series about the presidents who could have been but never were. Called “The Contenders” — purposefully not “The Losers” — the series is about politicians who lost elections but, to borrow from its self-description, “changed political history” anyway.

“The idea is to offer an alternative school of political history,” said Richard Norton Smith, the presidential historian who is a consultant to C-SPAN and who came up with the idea for the series. He said, “More than a few who were deemed losers in their time turned out to be winners in the longer run.”

The first person to be profiled is Henry Clay, the successful speaker of the House and unsuccessful Whig Party candidate for president in 1844 who was known as the Great Compromiser, revealing one of the reasons that Mr. Smith said the series was “not without relevance in our time.”

So many failed candidates now seem to be staples of our national news diet, whether it’s Sarah Palin with her “will she or won’t she?” run for president; Al Gore, with his continuing campaign about climate change; Mike Huckabee, with his new talk-show career; or even John Edwards, with his fall from the op-ed page to the tabloid cover. But the current crop didn’t inspire the series, said Mark Farkas, its executive producer.

“We knew we wanted to do a history series before the presidential election was really kicked off,” Mr. Farkas said Wednesday, taking a break from reviewing video clips for the Clay episode. Studying the runners-up, he said, is a “great way to track how people have run for the presidency and how they have interacted with the media.”

The most recent crop of candidates wouldn’t have qualified for the series. To be a contender the person had to have run for president before 1996. Mr. Farkas said Mr. Gore, who ran for president in 2000, was considered for the series, but the producing group decided that “history’s still being written about 2000.”

The series starts with Clay and ends on Dec. 9 with Ross Perot, who ran for president in 1992 (and again in 1996). In between are men — they are all men — like William Jennings Bryan, the three-time presidential candidate at the turn of the 20th century; Eugene V. Debs, the union leader who ran on a socialist platform five times, once from prison; Thomas E. Dewey, the New York governor who was the Republican nominee in 1944 and 1948; and George S. McGovern, the senator who was the Democratic nominee in 1972.

Mr. Smith said the producing team was careful to include an equal number of Republicans and Democrats and a “good sampling” of third-party candidates.

“You can play all sorts of parlor games with this topic,” he said. “Would these guys have been better than the people who beat them? How might history have been different?”

C-SPAN’s schedule is determined by Congress much of the time because the channel is committed to showing the House of Representatives whenever it is in session. But Friday night is typically free for original programming because the House tends to dismiss itself for the weekend. In 2007 Mr. Smith was a consultant for a Friday series that was set at presidential libraries. “We were combing the treasures of the collections,” he said.

Similarly, each 90-minute episode of “The Contenders” will be produced live from a location that was important in the life of the featured person. The episode about Clay will be broadcast from his former plantation in Lexington, Ky., which is significant, Mr. Farkas said, because “many of the compromises that Clay made were over slavery.” Guests on each episode will include estate or museum curators, outside historians and authors.

The locations are significant because “these people are really windows into their time period as well,” Mr. Farkas said.

Mr. Smith, who is a professor at George Mason University and the author of books about Dewey, Herbert Hoover, George Washington and others, became one of C-SPAN’s top house historians after befriending Brian Lamb, the founder and chief executive of the network. They have, Mr. Smith said with a laugh, a “curious basis for a friendship:” Mr. Lamb found out in 1993 that Mr. Smith had visited the grave site of every United States president and then decided to do the same. (There are no plans at the moment for a series about the grave sites.)

Mr. Smith said he perceived “The Contenders” to be an alternative to the constant coverage of the current Republican primary campaign, but relevant to the coverage too. Take Mr. Perot, for instance. “Perot put the deficit on the agenda in a way that made it virtually impossible for whoever won to avoid doing something about it,” he said.

Perhaps there are lessons too for the losers — or contenders — themselves. The Oct. 7 episode will profile Charles Evan Hughes, who governed New York before joining the Supreme Court in 1910. A Republican, Hughes waged a “not very effective campaign” for president in 1916, but then became the secretary of state and later the nation’s chief justice. He wrote opinions that supported elements of the New Deal and strengthened free-press protections and fended off a proposal to add more justices to the court.

“He never even served in Congress,” Mr. Smith said. “But it’s hard to find many public servants who did as much, as well, as long.”

A version of this article appeared in print on September 8, 2011, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: Don’t Call Them ‘Losers’.

Featured Historians Julian Zelizer: The painful price of deficit hysteria — Debt Ceiling Showdown

FEATURED HISTORIANS

Source: Julian Zelizer, Salon, 7-29-11

The painful price of deficit hysteria

Library of Congress/AP
Barry Goldwater and Paul Ryan

Regardless of the outcome of the debt ceiling debate, conservatives have already scored a major victory over liberalism. Even if President Obama emerges from the struggle in stronger political shape than the GOP, the fiscalization of American politics — meaning the focus of debate on deficits and debt — constitutes a powerful blow to liberal Democrats who once hoped that President Obama’s election would herald a new era for their cause.

Liberals were wrong. Conservatives, who have a mediocre field of presidential candidates and who don’t control the Senate, have been able to stand their ground.

Perhaps one of their most lasting accomplishments since the midterm elections has been their ability to shift national debate toward the problem of deficit reduction. While there has been disagreement among politicians and economists about whether this is the correct time to deal with this issue given the laggard state of the economy, conservatives have won the battle. Even Nancy Pelosi said this week, “It is clear we must enter an era of austerity, to reduce the deficit through shared sacrifice.”

We are all fiscal conservatives now, at least on paper.

None of this should come as a surprise. Focusing on deficit reduction has been a long-standing strategy for proponents of conservatism ever since modern liberalism took hold in the 20th century. Whenever liberals make progress on their policy agenda, conservatives’ best bet has been to talk about the budget. While it is difficult to directly oppose many government programs, since the public tends to support specific services, it is easy to raise fears about overall costs. Those are just numbers, not programs. Moreover, budget-balancing has long been symbolically important to many Americans. As the political scientist James Savage has shown, a balanced budget represents to many citizens the perception that the government maintains control over its operations….READ MORE

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