As a still-rather-newish ex-Democrat (I’m not a Republican, but I vote that way), I remain surprised at the persistence of opinions such as this one on the conservative side. Yes, I understand the frustration with the Republicans and share it to a fair extent. But no, I don’t and won’t be railing against a candidate like Romney and asserting that Goldwater was a much better candidate than Goldwater actually was.
It’s a very human tendency to be angrier at the internal enemy at the expense of the external and far-more-important one. It reminds me of the common tendency, when one parent has abused a child, for the victim to blame the other parent even more, and to direct the greatest amount of anger against him/her for not sufficiently protecting that child by stopping the abusing parent.
The truth about Goldwater is that he was an awful* candidate. Go back and look at videos if you don’t believe me. The other truth is that he was the victim of an unfair smear campaign. Go back and look at videos if you don’t believe me. And the other truth is that I don’t think any other Republican candidate who might have run in 1964 could have beaten Johnson. All three things are true.
All three things might have been true of Romney in 2012, as well. You may not believe the third one, but rememberthat I’m comparing Romney (as I have from the start) not to an imaginary ideal other Republican candidate, but to the actual candidates who declared themselves. And let’s throw in the fact that internal warring in the Republican Party hurt him, as well. That sort of split could doom whoever is the Republican nominee in 2016, too, moderate or conservative, and enable a Democrat victory.
Moderate Republicans often like to say that, when conservative Republicans have lost, it was because they were too conservative. Conservatives like to say that, when moderate Republicans have lost, it was because they weren’t conservative enough. Most of the time, neither is true. Most of the time, the losses were because of the three reasons I listed, whether the Republican nominees were conservatives or RINOs.
I fully expect quite a few people to disagree with me.
[NOTE: *By the term "awful candidate" in this context I mean mostly in the sense of personality---in other words, whatever is usually meant by "uncharismatic" or "unexciting" or "unappealing" in the personal sense. We sometimes like to pretend that elections are won and/or lost solely on principle, but that is very far from the truth. You may not like that fact, but it doesn't change it.]