Reviving the Goldwater-Reagan legacy during breakfast

October 4, 2012 | By Kate Miller

“This message is of hope—it’s also of despair,” began conservative pundit Jack Hunter at Wednesday’s Wake-Up Club Breakfast at the Leadership Institute. The breakfast, held the first Wednesday of each month, brings a leading conservative to speak to LI supporters.

Jack encouraged the audience of 70 at this month’s event to responsibly vote and hold elected officials accountable. Jack is a columnist for The American Conservative and the Charleston City Paper, and is a Contributing Editor to Young American Revolution. He also regularly appears on Sirius XM and is involved with many other organizations.

“The core definition of conservatism in the United States is something I like to call—and I didn’t coin this—the Goldwater-Reagan legacy. The idea that the government that governs least governs best,” Jack said. “The idea that government is bad: that is American conservatism.”

Jack echoed Reagan’s 1981 inaugural address, “Government is not the solution to our problems. Government is the problem.”

This is the main ideological discrepancy between true conservatives and their liberal counterparts, Jack argued.

“The conservative grassroots desperately want that limited-government champion Republicans have always promised—and yet so many times, time, time and again, have never delivered,” Jack lamented. “They want the real deal.”



Jack wants conservative politicians who fight for a decrease in the size of the government.

“I do think things are finally getting better. You know, the term ‘conservative’ used to be something very unique in our politics,” Jack said. “If you go back to the time of Barry Goldwater, or even right before that, to be a conservative was something sort of out there. It meant something specific.”

“Nowadays, especially in the Republican party, the term ‘conservative’ is widespread,” Jack said. “Everybody, from the most moderate (or I would dare say ‘liberal’) Republicans to the actual conservatives like to call themselves conservatives. It’s good branding. It helps get you elected.”

“The term ‘conservative’ is as popular as it ever was, but actual conservatism still hasn’t got the job done,” Jack said.

He proposed a solution to this problem.

“The Leadership Institute has been instrumental in carrying these conservative ideas forward,” Jack said. “I think, moving forward, whether it’s the TEA Party, or pushing forward these conservative candidates—this is, in a large part, a youth revolution. It’s just like Barry Goldwater of 1964, and Mr. Blackwell was there.”

Jack continued, “We all know that those young ‘damn Goldwater people’—those kids—became the modern American conservative movement. And they changed this country, and they changed American politics. Well, I dare say it’s happening again. It’s not only the TEA Party, but it’s sort of this youth up swell that is represented by groups like the Leadership Institute who are going to reclaim conservatism in the way that Ronald Reagan meant it, and are going to push it forward in the way Barry Goldwater always dreamed it could,” Jack said.

Jack ended on a high note, “I’m so excited about the future—despite how much big government we have now. I think we can finally really begin to turn things around.”

For future LI Wednesday Wake-Up Club Breakfasts, please go here.