Posts Tagged ‘Goldwater’

11th June
written by Sean Noble







There was a seismic event on Tuesday night in the 7th District of Virginia as sitting U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost in a landslide to a virtually unknown tea party candidate. It’s quite rare for a Member of leadership to lose an election. The most recent examples are when John Thune beat Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle for the Senate in 2004 and when Speaker Tom Foley lost to George Nethercutt in 1994. Before that, you have to reach all the way back to 1952, when the sitting United States Senate Majority Leader lost to a young, upstart businessman named Barry Goldwater.

Sometimes politics is just crazy interesting.  Cantor losing is crazy interesting.

How did it happen?

The immediate conventional wisdom being pushed by the D.C. chattering class is that Cantor’s willingness to support comprehensive immigration reform was THE reason.  Conventional wisdom is pushing the narrative that the tea party is racist and will not tolerate anything but the strictest enforcement bills coming out of Washington.

Immigration may have played a role, but it was far from the only – or even biggest – reason for Cantor’s loss.

Fundamentally, the reason Cantor lost is because he came to embody all that base Republican voters despise: ladder-climbing insider, close ties to K Street and Wall Street, too focused on Washington, and generally being out-of-touch with his district.

Cantor’s schedule on Election Day is the perfect microcosm of what went wrong.  Most candidates I have worked for – including candidates for Governor, Senate, House, down to state legislature – spend Election Day getting out the vote. That means going to headquarters and joining volunteers making calls to voters, stopping at a few polling locations and shaking hands, etc.

Cantor started the day doing a fundraiser in D.C. Then stayed in D.C. until votes concluded around 3 p.m. Then, drove down to his district, presumably in time for the “victory” party.  There was no personal touch of voters in the district. No urgency of making sure he did everything he could to ensure victory.

Secondarily, he lost because he thought he could bury his opponent with TV and did nothing to build grassroots support. In fact, he worked against much of the grassroots in the district by trying to replace various precinct and party leaders with loyalists.

His ads tended to be over the top or too cute by half – and over-using the “liberal college professor” claim.  Even his positive ads were over-produced – the best ads politicians can do for themselves most of the time is look right into the camera and talk to voters like adults.

The biggest shock of the night was how shocked he and his team were by the outcome.  You only get stunned in politics when you don’t have your finger on the pulse of what is going on around you.

I’m sure there will be mountains of analysis done on top of what has been written so far, but it doesn’t change the fundamentals: if you lose touch with your constituency and get caught up in the insider game in Washington, it can catch up with you.

21st January
written by Sean Noble

Arizona’s Republican Secretary of State, Jan Brewer, was sworn in as the new Governor today in an inaugural ceremony at the State Capital.  The standing-room-only crowd heard an interesting contrast between President Obama’s inaugural address yesterday, and Gov. Brewer’s address today. 

Obama’s laid out how bad it was, who was to blame, that we needed to have a “government that works” and that our faith and hope in government will get us through the troubled times.  Brewer laid out the budget problems we face in Arizona, said that “government is going to get smaller” and it is through personal creativity, determination and entrepreneurial spirit that will get us through troubled times.

In her speech, Gov. Brewer echoed Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan – she talked about freedom.  The best part of the speech for me was this:

“I’m therefore pleased to report that the legislative leadership, my transition team and I are not sitting idle while the new government in Washington plans another trillion dollars in deficit spending. No, we are planning a massive stimulus package of our own, to make Arizona the most economically vibrant place in the world. And just like the clever folks in Washington, we have a catchy name for it: It’s called “freedom.””


Now there is something we can cheer about.

19th January
written by Sean Noble

“For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us.” 

These were the words of pilgrim John Winthrop nearly 400 years ago.  Since that time, America has been the product of that vision, welcoming those who have yearned for freedom.

Our Founding Fathers recognized the unique nature of America when they signed their names to one of the most powerful documents in the history of mankind.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”  The Declaration of Independence codified the vision Winthrop had of a city upon a hill.

 What makes the message of the Declaration of Independence so powerful is the promise of freedom and human rights for all people.  The Founders were not writing a document just for those in the American colonies, but for all people who sought liberty.  This promise of freedom, and the protection of the rights afforded us by our Creator, is what makes the United States the greatest nation on earth.

No other country provides so much opportunity to so many.  Rather than a system of government like the former Soviet Union, that people risked death to escape, we offer the protection of God-given rights that enables liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  It is a blessing worth dying to attain and defend.

 American history is one of determination and success.  For generations, people seeking a better life have left all behind in their home country and come to America.  In general, America has welcomed these new faces in the spirit of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” (“The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus)

The history of immigration to America is not one in which the wealthy and successful uproot from their home and come here.  It is, as Emma Lazarus described, the poor, yearning to breathe free.  That is the greatness of the American dream – come here with nothing, and through hard work and dedication become productive and successful members of our free society.

America remains the place people want to come for a better life.  Unfortunately, our policies of the last few decades makes getting here legally a process which can take more than a decade, creating an incentive for people to come illegally.  This creates conflict for those who resent people who “cut in line.”  The conflict builds to the point that otherwise rational and generous people forget about America as an ideal.  Rather than embracing those willing to risk their lives to participate in the American dream, some shout that they “must go back.”

One of our nation’s greatest conservative leaders, Ronald Reagan, envisioned a different America than what some seem to want.  In his final address to the nation from the Oval office he spoke of the success of America as a place for all to come to enjoy freedom. 

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it.  But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

Yes, we are a nation of laws, but we must make sure the laws work, as Sen. Barry Goldwater said, “to maximize freedom.”  And to enact those laws we must be Americans: a welcoming, inviting people.  America can only remain great when its people recognize that those who are willing to risk all, even their life, are worthy inhabitants.  They embody the spirit of Winthrop, Jefferson and Reagan through their yearning for the full benefit of their God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Our obligation, as Americans, is to continue to be the shining city on a hill, lifting our lamp beside the golden door.


1st January
written by Sean Noble

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a huge fan of Barry Goldwater.   He was pure Arizona and his 1964 Presidential campaign paved the way for Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980.  Today would have been his 100th birthday, so it seems appropriate to take a moment to reflect on his life.  In the “Deep Thinking” section of this blog there is a draft op-ed I wrote back in 2002.

I was privileged to have met Senator Goldwater a number of times, mainly through my work with Congressman John Shadegg, whose father Stephen was Goldwater’s campaign manager, speech writer and confidant.  One of the highlights of my political life happened nearly 15 years ago during Shadegg’s first campaign for Congress. We had event which featured William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater.  For a kid from Show Low who grew up idolizing Goldwater and reading National Review since I was 12 years old, it was as good as dying and going to Heaven.

Today’s Arizona Republic has a pretty good article about Goldwater for this centennial celebration.

Let us never forget that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice.