January 2, 2020
On this day in 1909, Senator Barry Goldwater was born in Phoenix, Arizona. At that time, Phoenix was a city in a remote desert territory that was not even yet a state. Over the next 89 years, Sen. Goldwater devoted his life to ensuring that his native state would be a beacon of liberty for the rest of the nation.
Today, Arizona remains a nationwide leader for the cause of freedom. It’s a state that others look to as an example for how to protect individual liberty. At the Goldwater Institute, we’re not only proud to sport the Goldwater name—we’re proud to carry on the fight for liberty that characterized Sen. Goldwater’s life and career. And we’re doing that not just in the Grand Canyon State, but in states all across the country.
In his 1960 work The Conscience of a Conservative, Sen. Goldwater wrote that “throughout history, government has proved to be the chief instrument for thwarting man’s liberty.” While government can serve important roles in our society, that power can be pushed too far—to the point of limiting individual freedom instead of protecting it:
The legitimate functions of government are actually conducive to freedom. Maintaining internal order, keeping foreign foes at bay, administering justice, removing obstacles to the free interchange of goods—the exercise of these powers makes it possible for men to follow their chosen pursuits with maximum freedom. But note that the very instrument by which these desirable ends are achieved can be the instrument for achieving undesirable ends—that government can, instead of extending freedom, restrict freedom.
Sen. Goldwater wrote these words 60 years ago now, but it’s easy to find many examples of what he was talking about in today’s America. When government denies homeowners the right to share their home with overnight guests, it strips people of their property rights. When government forces workers to get a government permission slip to do their jobs, it’s more difficult for people to earn a living. When government stands in the way of school choice, many students are unable to get an education that meets their unique needs.
The Goldwater Institute pushes back against government overreach, pushes back against the creep of growing regulation and government intrusion in people’s lives. On an average day at Goldwater, you may find our attorneys in a courtroom arguing against unfair and unconstitutional uses of taxpayer dollars. You may find our experts on the radio, on the opinion pages of newspapers, or speaking to a live audience, discussing ways we can give parents more of a say in their child’s education, or shining a light on how government restrictions on healthcare competition are keeping many Americans from getting the mental health treatment they need. In short, you’ll find us all over the country making the case for liberty—just as Sen. Goldwater did throughout his life.
When Sen. Goldwater was born 111 years ago, he was born into a world that looked very different from the one we know today. But his lifelong commitment to advancing and defending liberty is one we at the Goldwater Institute share with him and one we’ll carry long into the future—proudly following the example that he set.
For more information about how to support the Goldwater Institute’s work to protect liberty for all Americans, click here.