With Trump, the optimists believe, Republicans might have another Barry Goldwater on their hands. This is a reference to the right-wing Arizona senator who ran in 1964 against President Lyndon Johnson, urging his party to embrace conservatism and leave behind the moderate elements who were so powerful in the party.No, Goldwater was not a total disaster. Because JFK had just been killed and was considered a martyr, the Democrat were almost sure to retain the presidency.
When Republicans met at their convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco in July 1964, delegates booed New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller when he warned against extremists who played on "fear, hate and terror." They roared with approval when Goldwater responded: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue."
The GOP's choice turned out to be a total disaster: Johnson ran a devastating campaign that effectively portrayed Goldwater as far off center. The most famous attack came with the "Daisy" television ad, which showed a girl picking the petals off a daisy as a male voice counted down from 10 to 1. The ad ended as the camera zoomed in on her eyes and a massive nuclear explosion filled the screen.
In another ad, which might be brought back in 2016 if Trump wins, viewers saw Ku Klux Klan members marching in their regalia and burning crosses, a reference to an endorsement Goldwater received from a leader of the Alabama Ku Klux Klan.
The Republicans went on to a close win in 1968, and landslide win in 1972, a close loss in 1976, and landslide wins in 1980 and 1984. Without Goldwater, we probably would not have had Reagan, and we might still be fighting the Cold War.
Trump has already destroyed Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and others. Ted Cruz is probably doing better because Trump cleared the way for him. If Trump loses, maybe Cruz will win in 2020.
We will continue to see nasty anti-Trump ads and other attacks. The liberal establishment hates what he is doing as much as they hated what Goldwater and Reagan did.