The speech by Barry Goldwater is remembered for expounding an unbending spirit of immoderation that became the defining feature of the freedom movement that formed as a result of his campaign, and later on became an unofficial agenda of the Republicans or libertarian activists. The speech contains one of the most famous political statements from the last century when he said:
“Let me remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me also remind you that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” (Goldwater)
This speech is the materialization of conservative views such as deregulation, tax reduction, decentralized government, and libertarianism. The freedom to liberty essentially implies libertarian principles that conservatives like Barry Goldwater strongly adhered to. He opposed the civil rights for the very same purpose because it would lead to greater policing and government enforcement, therefore liberty would be threatened. The views expressed by Goldwater could be said to be uncompromising, immoderate and even fanatical. The speech makes one wonder how this extremism could be fruitful for conservatives, because extremism itself cannot dependably lead towards the results conservatives wish to see in society, such as ordered liberty or social stability. Therefore the notion that extremism in the defense of liberty is valid can backfire, whereas self-command, temperateness and composure in pursuit of justice can be a virtue.
As a result of the speech, the common American perception that Barry wants to take away civil rights or social security, and lead America towards another nuclear war, seems understandable. The libertarian principles espoused by Barry that were reflected in the speech seeks a militant defense against communism and liberty implies a limited state role in which state only enforces contracts and runs a legal system to help people do business, besides providing a strong national defense. Barry’s views from his speech indicate his strong inclination towards a limited government where regulation cannot change racial or other prejudices because that is a matter of the heart and not law.
Betty Friedan’s statement of purpose for ‘National Organization for Women’ is a considered a ground-breaking text of the Women’s liberation movement. The statement of purpose is very clear about ending sex-based discrimination and led to a consolidation of the NOW movement to have played a key role in shaping the modern feminist movement.
“Time has come for a new movement toward true equality for all women in America,” (Friedan)
The text indicates how Betty Friedan and other founding members of NOW feeling frustrated by the way the government was not implementing anti-discrimination laws that were enacted to ensure women’s full participation in American mainstream society. She wanted to see women in truly equal partnership with man assuming all responsibilities and privileges. The text is a landmark and it does more than confine then tendency to stereotype gender roles, but in fact became a force for change. The text publicizes equal rights for women and became powerful enough to organize women into a political and social force in their demand for rights. It is also a feminist critique of traditional American society, and outlines an aggressive program to create a true and “equal partnership of the sexes”. The mental health crises middle-class women were facing because they were entrapped in their roles as mothers and housewives were also reflective of the text that criticized the functional roles of women assigned to lead towards social stability. It raises the consciousness of its reader, and eventually lead to Friedan building the movement that characterized the second-wave of feminism.
Further analyzing the text, there seems to be a suggestion that the selected group of women that began to be associated with NOW yearned for the same power as exercised by men in mainstream society and used this text as a launching pad for their declaration. Therefore the text could be criticized in the sense that it yearned for women to have the right to make political or economic decisions like men in power, instead of trying to revolutionize the faults in the system that led towards racist, classist or sexist behavior.
Friedan’s statement of purpose however framed questions regarding the nature of freedom itself and suggests that women could have a collective identity, that is a sense of “we”, that later became the foundation for the ‘Women’s Liberation Movement’. In that way, it highlighted not only the middle aged housewife’s identity problems but also successfully gave a sense of identity and awareness to women to lead a collective front for their rights
Friedan, Betty. “The Sixties: NOW Statement of Purpose (1966).” Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! An American History. 4th. Vol. I. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013. 1009-1010.
Goldwater, Barry. “The Sixties: Voices of Freedom Documents.” Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! An American History. 4th. Vol. I. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2013. 1009.