50 Barry Goldwater Quotes on Politics, Freedom, and Small Government


Five-term Senator from Arizona, Barry Goldwater was known for his strong conservative views that helped spearhead the conservative revolution in the 1960s. Here is our selection of Barry Goldwater quotes.

Barry Goldwater was born in 1909 in Phoenix, Arizona. He served as a pilot in World War I and World War II. He remained in the Arizona Air National Guard until 1967 when he retired as a Command Pilot with the rank of major general.

Goldwater began his political career in 1952 when he narrowly won the race for Arizona state senator. At the time, Arizona was heavily democratic and Barry was the second republican to have ever won the senate election. He won again in 1958, becoming the first Arizona republican to win reelection. Goldwater continued to serve as senator for five terms. Enjoy these Barry Goldwater quotes!

Don’t forget to also check out these John McCain quotes about character, America and more.

Senator Barry Goldwater quotes on freedom

1. “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” — Barry Goldwater

2. “I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom.” — Barry Goldwater

3. “My aim is not to pass laws but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden.” — Barry Goldwater

4. “I am frankly sick and tired of the political preachers telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A, B, C, and D. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?” — Barry Goldwater

5. “The effect of Welfarism on freedom will be felt later on – after its beneficiaries have become its victims, after dependence on government has turned into bondage and it is too late to unlock the jail.” — Barry Goldwater

6. “To my mind, the single essential element on which all discoveries will be dependent is human freedom.” — Barry Goldwater

Barry Goldwater quotes about the separation of church and state

7. “Can any of us refute the wisdom of Madison and the other framers? Can anyone look at the carnage in Iran, the bloodshed in Northern Ireland or the bombs bursting in Lebanon and yet question the dangers of injecting religious issues into the affairs of state?” — Barry Goldwater

8. “By maintaining the separation of church and state, the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars.” — Barry Goldwater

9. “Religious factions will go on imposing their will on others unless the decent people connected to them recognize that religion has no place in public policy. They must learn to make their views known without trying to make their views the only alternatives.” — Barry Goldwater

10. “I am a conservative Republican, but I believe in democracy and the separation of church and state.” — Barry Goldwater

Barry Goldwater quotes and sayings on politics

11. “Sex and politics are a lot alike. You don’t have to be good at them to enjoy them.” — Barry Goldwater

12. “When I’m not a politician, I’ll be dead.” — Barry Goldwater

13. “I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size.” — Barry Goldwater

14. “Where is the politician who has not promised to fight to the death for lower taxes- and who has not proceeded to vote for the very spending projects that make tax cuts impossible?” — Barry Goldwater

15. “The income tax created more criminals than any other single act of government.” — Barry Goldwater

16. “The conservative movement is founded on the simple tenet that people have the right to live life as they please as long as they don’t hurt anyone else in the process.” — Barry Goldwater

17. “The president, who finds so much to complain about in other areas of the world, apparently saw nothing wrong in recognizing a Communist regime that has killed more people in its short history of control over the teeming millions of that great country than any other collection of dictators or tyrants in the history of the world.” — Barry Goldwater

18. “I fear Washington and centralized government more than I do Moscow.” — Barry Goldwater

19. “Unlimited campaign spending eats at the heart of the democratic process.” — Barry Goldwater

20. “History has to judge every man who served. I don’t know how they’re going to treat me. I may be the worst S.O.B. that ever came down the pike. But I won’t lose any sleep over it. I just like to be remembered as an honest person who tried.” — Barry Goldwater

21. “It’s political Daddyism and it’s as old as demagogues and despotism.” — Barry Goldwater

22. “Conservatism, we are told, is out-of-date. This charge is preposterous and we ought to boldly say so. The laws of God, and of nature, have no dateline. […] These principles are derived from the nature of man, and from the truths that God has revealed about His creation. […] To suggest that the Conservative philosophy is out of date is akin to saying that the Golden Rule, or the Ten Commandments or Aristotle’s Politics are out of date.” — Barry Goldwater

23. “The oldest philosophy in the world is conservatism, and I go clear back to the first Greeks. … When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of these moneymaking ventures by fellows like Pat Robertson and others who are trying to take the Republican Party away from the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it. If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.” — Bary Goldwater

Barry Goldwater quotes on government

24. “I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is “needed” before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible.” — Barry Goldwater

25. “Most Americans have no real understanding of the operation of the international money lenders. The accounts of the Federal Reserve System have never been audited. It operates outside the control of Congress and manipulates the credit of the United States.” — Barry Goldwater

26. “A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have.” — Barry Goldwater

27. “Today neither of our two parties maintains a meaningful commitment to the principle of States’ Rights. The 10th Amendment is not a ‘general assumption’ but a rule of law. States rights mean that states have a right to act or not to act, as they see fit, in areas reserved to them.” — Barry Goldwater

28. “The constitution is an instrument, above all, for LIMITING the functions of government.” — Barry Goldwater

29. “The best thing Clinton could do — I think I wrote him a letter about this, but I’m not sure — is to shut up. He has no discipline.” — Barry Goldwater

Wise Barry Goldwater quotes

30. “We shall return to proven ways – not because they are old, but because they are true.” — Barry Goldwater

31. “I could have ended the war in a month. I could have made North Vietnam look like a mud puddle.” — Barry Goldwater

32. “You don’t have to be straight to be in the military; you just have to be able to shoot straight.” — Barry Goldwater

33. “Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.” — Barry Goldwater

34. “Everyone knows that gays have served honorably in the military since at least the time of Julius Caesar.” — Barry Goldwater

35. “While I am a great believer in the free enterprise system and all that it entails, I am an even stronger believer in the right of our people to live in a clean and pollution-free environment.” — Barry Goldwater

36. “Any pilot can describe the mechanics of flying. What it can do for the spirit of man is beyond description.” — Barry Goldwater

37. “If you don’t mind smelling like peanut butter for two or three days, peanut butter is darn good shaving cream.” — Barry Goldwater

38. “To insist on strength is not war-mongering. It is peace-mongering.” — Barry Goldwater

39. “I will offer a choice, not an echo.” — Barry Goldwater

40. “Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on earth. And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies. Absolute power does corrupt, and those who seek it must be suspect and must be opposed.” — Barry Goldwater

More Barry Goldwater quotes and sayings

41. “I think the President ought to bring everybody that’s in American uniform back because we’re headed for war.” — Barry Goldwater

42. “I’ve played everything – baseball, football, basketball. I can still swim a mile a day. That’s why I can’t walk.” — Barry Goldwater

43. “I understand Jacqueline Kennedy has redone the White House in eighteenth-century style. Why, then, I’d fit in perfectly.” — Barry Goldwater

44. “When fraternities are not allowed, Communism flourishes. Young men who are inexperienced but have faith are more useful than older, experienced men without faith. The fraternity system is a bastion of American strength.” — Barry Goldwater

45. “I found Mr. Carter’s actions toward the Republic of China so incredible that they defy description by socially acceptable expletives. If December 7, 1941, was a “day of infamy” then December 15, 1978 ranks right up there in international betrayal…The pathetic thing about this whole mess, however, is that it is typical of this administration’s conduct of foreign affairs, which could be kindly described as being riddled by ineptitude and hypocrisy.” — Barry Goldwater

46. “Throughout history, civilian populations and political rulers have talked of peace. We have never been free of war. The soldier, whose profession is war, understands that peace must be enforced by superior military might. The certainty of defeat is the only effective deterrent we can use to maintain peace. Furthermore, we can be strong without being aggressive.” — Barry Goldwater

47. “Perseverance. . .that’s been the story of my family.” — Barry Goldwater

48. “I have the unmitigated gall to think that I could lead men anywhere, business, politics or combat.” — Barry Goldwater

49. “When white and black and brown and every other color decide they’re going to live together as Christians, then and only then are we going to see an end to these troubles.” — Barry Goldwater

50. “I’m the most underdog there is.” — Barry Goldwater

What were some of Barry Goldwater’s accomplishments?

Barry Goldwater was a member of the NAACP and helped found the Arizona chapter. He made sure that the Arizona Air National Guard was racially integrated from its beginning in 1946, two years before the national military was legally integrated. Goldwater was also responsible for the desegregation of the Senate cafeteria in his first year in office.

Despite his work and support for civil rights, Goldwater voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He would later call this action one of his life’s biggest regrets.

Goldwater ran for president in 1964 and drastically lost. However, his candidacy would lay the foundation for the conservative revolution that would follow as well as have a serious impact on the growth of the libertarian movement.

What did you learn from these Barry Goldwater quotes and sayings? Which quote was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.



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