I can’t tell you how many times I hear from people who did not support Trump in 2016, but today defend him and his policies with vigor. Lawrence Glickman, a historian at Cornell University, provides some historical context to help us understand why these never-Trump Republicans like Ben Shapiro, Glenn Beck, and Erick Erickson went “extinct.”
Here is a taste of his piece at The Washington Post:
The very same thing happened in 1964, when party loyalty and ideological similarity convinced moderate Republicans to embrace the controversial candidate upending their party. In the late spring that year, as it became increasingly likely that Sen. Barry Goldwater (Ariz.) had a clear path to the Republican nomination for the presidency, twin fears gripped the then-formidable moderate wing of the party: first, that Goldwater might bring catastrophic loss to the Republican Party, and second, that if he were to win, it would bring a dangerous man to the White House.
But rather than going to war against Goldwater, the moderates, led by former president Dwight Eisenhower, first vacillated in their criticism and then relented, ultimately offering active support for their putative enemy.
Their actions help explain how a shared enemy and ideological affinities often lead political figures to overcome doubts they once had about the fitness and extremism of the leader of their party.
Of the moderates, Eisenhower’s behavior is especially telling. He should have been leading the charge against Goldwater. After all, the Arizona lawmaker and author of “The Conscience of a Conservative” had denounced the social welfare policies of his administration as a “dime-store New Deal.” And according to the journalist Theodore H. White, author of “The Making of the President” series, “Eisenhower was appalled at the prospect of Goldwater’s nomination.”
Yet the former president refused to publicly or explicitly denounce Goldwater. Instead, he whipsawed from private criticism of Goldwater to loyalty to his party, seeming to endorse even some of Goldwater’s more extreme ideas.
Read the entire piece here.