I’m in Washington, D.C. this week as Arizona celebrates 103 years of statehood and memorializes one of its greats, former U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, with the unveiling later today of his statue in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.
The eight-foot bronze statue, previously housed at the Arizona State Capitol, will commemorate Goldwater’s legacy and aptly represent Arizona in our nation’s capital.
All 11 members of the Arizona congressional delegation signed a joint letter last fall requesting the installation of the Goldwater figure; a testament to the enduring bipartisan respect for the late Arizona senator:
Senator Goldwater was a man of great personal integrity and unblemished honor. He put his country and our founding ideals before himself. He believed we all have a duty to the country, and he performed his duty magnificently, tirelessly, forcefully, effectively, and with a style as honest and wide-open as the state he loved so dearly.
Born in Arizona territory in 1909, Goldwater was truly a child of the West. He grew with the young state and became an indelible part of its history—prominent businessman, serviceman, statesman, and even a notable outdoorsman, traveling extensively throughout Arizona to photograph the American West for posterity.
Still, Goldwater is perhaps most remembered not for his stunning photographs, his success at the helm of Phoenix’s largest department store, his many military achievements, or even his five terms in the U.S. Senate for Arizona. Rather, Barry Goldwater is best remembered for becoming the embodiment of American conservatism, proving that you don’t always have to win a presidential race to have a profound impact on modern political history.
The Republican nominee for the presidency in 1964, Goldwater ran on a platform which emphasized the importance of limited government, lower taxes and a strong national defense in order to thwart the erosion of individual liberty; a constitutionally grounded approach he outlined in his 1960 book, The Conscience of a Conservative.
Although Goldwater did not win the election, what were once themes outside the mainstream political thought of the day — mainly his preoccupation with free enterprise and his deep-seated conviction that the constitution was a timeless instrument of liberty —would become political maxims for the modern American conservative movement and would capture the GOP apparatus and transform the party into a band of winning conservatives. It is hard to imagine Ronald Reagan winning the presidency in 1980 had Barry Goldwater not begun to shape the conservative movement 16 years earlier.
It is a great honor for Arizona to be represented at the U.S. Capitol with a statue of the rugged individualist. Sen. Barry Goldwater demonstrated utmost integrity, love of country, and a ceaseless commitment to free enterprise. Arizona is proud to call him a native son.
Glenn Hamer is the president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry is committed to advancing Arizona’s competitive position in the global economy by advocating free-market policies that stimulate economic growth and prosperity for all Arizonans. http://www.azchamber.com/.