The marriage was doomed from the start. But file the divorce papers, anyway: the Conservative Party has disavowed one of its founding fathers.
Last Tuesday, the party of limited government argued that marriage should consist only of the union of one man and one woman (little surprise there). What few realize is that this idea is a thumb in the eye of the man responsible for the existence of the New York State Conservative Party — Barry Goldwater. The issue is over the limits of government.
On one side we have Brooklyn Conservative Party Vice-Chairwoman Fran Vella-Marrone, who was quick to oppose Gov. Spitzer’s effort to permit gay marriage.
“The Conservative Party has been the loudest voice in this state defending traditional family values,” said Vella-Marrone.
On the other side is a ghost from the past. The founding father of the movement — Goldwater — was not only pro-Choice, but didn’t think the government should have anything to do with marriage. Goldwater may be dead — but his memory is alive and well in Bay Ridge. To this day, state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long recalls how, as a young man, Goldwater put a spell on him at the 1964 Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden.
“Barry Goldwater was the reason I got into politics,” said Long, who still has a Goldwater poster hanging at his liquor shop, Long’s Discount Wines, at 7917 Fifth Ave.
“You wouldn’t believe the feeling of hope in the air that night, that we could get this country on track and Goldwater would be the one to lead us,” Long said.
The philosophy? “Government ought to be kept off our backs, out of our pocketbooks, and out of our bedrooms,” Goldwater said.
That didn’t sit well with the religious right, which wanted the Republican Party to embrace restrictions on gay rights and abortion. Yet Goldwater insisted that conservatism meant limited government — whether on fiscal or social issues.
But that ideal is nowhere to be found on today’s political landscape.
Long may still have that campaign poster, but he has cut ties with his Goldwater past: “Some conservatives are for abortion,” he said, “but we are a pro-life party.”
Yellow Hooker has a pretty good idea of what Long’s mentor might say if he were alive to witness the changing times: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice and moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
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