January 2, 2021
Barry Goldwater was born on January 2, 1909, before Arizona was even a state. And in his 89 years of life—many of those years spent representing Arizona in the U.S. Senate—he worked to make the Grand Canyon State a positive example of how having more freedom can improve people’s lives.
That’s a torch we at the Goldwater Institute are proud to carry—and one you’ll be seeing a lot of as we start a new year.
In 1960’s The Conscience of a Conservative, Goldwater described a problem that will sound unfortunately relevant to modern ears: “Our tendency to concentrate power in the hands of a few men deeply concerns me. We can be conquered by bombs or by subversion; but we can also be conquered by neglect—by ignoring the Constitution and disregarding the principles of limited government.” He continued, “I am convinced that most Americans want to reverse the trend. I think that concern for our vanishing freedoms is genuine. I think that the people’s uneasiness in the stifling omnipresence of government has turned into something approaching alarm.”
These words were penned more than 60 years ago, but they certainly ring just as true today. Across the political spectrum, limited government seems out of fashion, as government spending and government power continue to pile up. And too many government leaders treat the Constitution as a mere suggestion rather than an essential roadmap for governing America.
Americans’ concern about the role of government is palpable these days—just look at the debates surrounding the rise of socialism in our own country’s policies—and the prospect of a new federal and state government leadership leaves the question of what government’s role will be in 2021 very much up in the air.
But in the face of this uncertainty, the Goldwater Institute not only remembers our namesake’s words—we continue to live them out in our work in Arizona and across America.
In 2020, we stood up to government overreach and spoke up for freedom, in our nation’s state capitols and courtrooms. Our Breaking Down Barriers to Work law, which makes it possible for many Americans to continue in their careers after moving to a new state, is now on the books in nearly a dozen states—and thousands of Americans are already benefiting from it. We advocated for educational freedom so that families could have more flexibility to build an education that works for their children. And we continued to work to tear down the red tape that keeps Americans from getting the medical treatment they need—particularly important as the global pandemic rages—and put patients at the center of their own healthcare decisions.
And on the litigation front, we ensured that a Florida high school student’s free speech rights were respected, we challenged the Illinois state government for denying a U.S. Marine his Second Amendment rights, and we defended an Arizona businessowner’s American Dream when she was targeted by local law enforcement during the COVID-19 crisis.
As we embark on a new year, there’s a lot of work ahead. Threats to freedom are commonplace, so insidious that we often don’t recognize when our liberties are at risk. But the legacy of Barry Goldwater reminds us that freedom is worth fighting for, and we’ll continue to take on his mantle and follow the strong example he set as we enter 2021.
For more information about how to support the Goldwater Institute’s work to protect liberty for all Americans, click here.