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 dag ville Barry Goldwater fylde 100 år. Goldwater er værd at mindes, fordi han mere end nogen anden politiker personificerede den konservative frihedsbevægelse, der begyndte som et oprør mod Præsident Dwight Eisenhower i 1950erne, senere triumferede ved præsident Ronald Reagans to jordskredssejre i 1980erne, men først for alvor sejrede, da den demokratiske præsident Bill Clinton i bedste Goldwater-stil erklærede: »The era of big government is over«.

Goldwater blev født den 1. januar 1909 i Phoenix, og gik relativt sent ind i politik. Når han alligevel fik så stor indflydelse, skyldes det stemningen i det republikanske parti op til præsidentvalget i 1960. De unge borgerlige havde trofast støttet Eisenhower, men de var ved at få nok. Eisenhower havde ikke gjort noget, som hans Demokratiske forgænger, præsident Harry Truman, ikke kunne have gjort. Tværtimod.

Ungarerne havde råbt efter amerikansk hjælp, da de sovjetiske tropper rullede ind over grænsen under oprøret i 1956. Sovjetunionen havde truet med krig, og for ikke at puste til ilden tillod Eiserhower og hans udenrigsminister John Dulles de sovjetiske styrker at undertrykke ungarernes stærke ønske om frihed, demokrati og markedsøkonomi. Herefter havde kommunisterne haft held til at lancere det sovjetiske rumprogram, Sputnik, og var blevet fejret af alle anti-amerikanere over hele verden. Kommunisten Fidel Castro havde uden synderlig modstand gennemført et militærkup på den lille ø ud for USAs østkyst, Cuba. Men ikke nok med det. Præsident Eisenhower inviterede tilmed Castros vigtigste allierede, slagteren fra Budapest, Sovjetunionens leder, Nikita Khrusjtjov, på besøg i USA.

Den moralske deroute blev ikke bedre af, at Eisenhower stort set videreførte Roosevelts og Trumans velfærdspolitik, hvilket fik den nyvalgte senator Goldwater til at kalde regeringens politik for en »dime-store New Deal«: En dårlig version af præsident Franklin Roosevelts velfærdsprogram fra 1930erne.

Fortvivlelsen var reel, men ingen før Goldwater havde formået at sætte ord på den. Og i løbet af få år genskabte Goldwater de unges tro på det republikanske parti i så høj grad, at han måtte gå til podiet under det republikanske konvent i 1959 for at stoppe en underskriftsindsamling, der havde til hensigt at stille ham op til valget i 1960. Vi skal vokse op og tage vores parti tilbage, jeg tror det kan lade sig gøre en dag, sagde han til forsamlingen. Lad os tage arbejdstøjet på, sluttede han, og lovede dermed, at han ikke udelukkede at stille op til præsident.

Den borgerlige frihedsbevægelses politiske bibel blev Goldwaters lille billigbog til 3 dollars, The Conscience of a Conservative, der udkom i kun 10.000 eksemplarer og blev totalt forbigået af de toneangivende medier. Den politiske elite havde ikke set frustrationen hos de unge, og vidste derfor ikke, at bogen ramte lige ind i fortvivlelsen over, at Eisenhower havde spildt otte år ved magten. I bogen skriver Goldwater, hvad der gik galt efter Den Store Depression, og hvordan amerikanerne kommer videre og får genskabt troen på den amerikanske drøm, ligesom man her for første gang kan læse, hvordan USA kan bringe sovjetimperiet til fald. En strategi, som Ronald Reagan fulgte til punkt og prikke.

Goldwater sagde ja til at blive præsidentkandidat i 1963 i visheden om, at han skulle stille op imod sin gamle ven, præsident John Kennedy, der havde vundet knebent over Nixon i 1960. Men ligesom den skæbnesvangre kugle tog Kennedys liv, tog den også livet af kampagnen. I stedet for Kennedy blev Goldwaters modstander, Lyndon B. Johnson, præsident.

Goldwater vidste, hvad han gik ind til. Han havde tidligere kaldt Johnson indbegrebet af paranoia og kynisme, og valgkampen blev da også en ulækker omgang, som republikanerne slet ikke var forberedt på. Goldwater blev kaldt alt lige fra fascist til racist og tabte stort. Men siden er valget blevet kaldt »a glorious disaster«, en glorværdig katastrofe, hvor man måske nok tabte valget, men skabte fundamentet for noget meget større: En ny borgerlig revolution. En af de unge, der deltog i kampagnen, John William Middendorf, der senere blev minister i Nixons regering, har skrevet en fremragende bog af samme navn. En bog som alle vi, der var aktive i Venstres valgkamp i 1998, burde have læst - for 10 år siden!

Mange konstaterede efter præsidentvalget i 1980, at det tog 16 år at tælle stemmerne, og Goldwater vandt. Det var selvfølgelig Reagan, der var på valg i 1980, og det er langtfra sikkert, at Goldwater som Reagan kunne have genskabt troen på USA efter Vietnam-krigen, Watergate og Jimmy Carters tragiske præsidentperiode. Han samlede det republikanske partis tre fløje: de palæokonservative med deres drøm om et USA af små selvstændige erhvervsdrivende, de neo-konservative med deres antikommunisme og accept af en stor offentlig sektor, og libertarianerne, der afviser utopier og vil have skatterne ned, flere i arbejde og vækst. Men uden Goldwater, ingen Reagan.

»In your heart you know he's right«, lød Barry Goldwaters valgslogan. Han lærte os, at hvis staten er så stor, at den kan give os alt, hvad vi vil have, er den også stor nok til at tage alt, hvad vi har. Det er værd at huske på i dag på hans 100 års fødselsdag, hvor verden igen har brug for en Goldwater, som har modet til at gå imod strømmen og sætte en ny visionær dagsorden, der kan sikre vores personlige og økonomiske frihed samt redde stumperne af vores frie samfund.

Af Kasper Elbjørn Senest opdaterede: 5 March 2009, 17:52

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