In the recent CNBC documentary, The Rockefellers, one segment really caught my attention.
The film reviewed the life of Nelson Rockefeller, who served as vice president to Gerald Ford and was New York's governor for many terms. It recounted his 1964 run against Barry Goldwater for the GOP presidential nomination.
It was a hard-fought campaign between two diametrically opposed party factions. Rockefeller lost, in part because he had recently divorced his wife. He also lost because Goldwater and the party's arch-conservatives crushed the party's then-existing liberal wing.
Though defeated, Rockefeller was given five minutes to speak at the Republican National Convention at San Francisco's Cow Palace.
When he stood to speak, boos and heckles rained down on him loudly. But in those few difficult minutes, Rockefeller boldly spoke against the reactionary politics that propelled Goldwater to the nomination, policies supported by radical right-wing groups such as the John Birch Society.
During this year, I have criss-crossed this nation fighting to keep the Republican party the party of all the people and warning of the extremist threat. It's a danger to the party and it's danger to the nation.
Some of you don't like to hear it, ladies and gentlemen, but it's the truth. These extremists feed on fear, hate and terror... There is no place in this Republican Party... for such hawkers of hate, such purveyors of prejudice, such fabricators of fear. Whether Communist, Ku Klux Klan or Birchers. There is no place in this Republican Party for those who would infiltrate its ranks, distort its aims and convert it into a cloak of apparent respectability for a dangerous extremism.
Reagan would have, based on his record of finding accommodation, finding some degree of common ground, as would my dad -- they would have a hard time if you define the Republican Party... as having an orthodoxy that doesn't allow for disagreement, doesn't allow for finding some common ground.
This post appeared in The Florida Voices on June 15, 2012.
Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly's Kommentary, writes a weekly column for Fort Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel and is a South Florida communications strategist. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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