Extremism: Vice or Virtue?
One of the most historic political speeches in U.S. history was Barry Goldwater’s 1964 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, and the most memorable part of that speech was when Goldwater said, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”
Even though this was long before the onset of wokeism and cancel culture, Goldwater’s words caused Democrats to become apoplectic and establishment Republicans to gasp in horror. From an early age, Republicans were taught that the word extremism was not to be bandied about in polite society. Republicans were all about civility and dignity, thus words that offended their beloved Democrat colleagues were off limits. Growing up, I suspected that to be buried alongside a Democrat was something every Republican secretly aspired to.
Today, however, Democrats have become the party of insanity, destruction, and authoritarianism, so it’s time to take a closer look at Goldwater’s use of the word extremism, which politicians now use as a weapon. The truth, of course, is that extremism, of and by itself, is neither good nor bad.
What actually determines if extremism is good or bad is what a person is extreme about. If you hold an extreme belief that anyone who doesn’t comport with your religious views should be beheaded, most civilized people would agree that’s a bad kind of extremism. If you are extreme in your belief in uncompromising honesty in all aspects of life, most civilized people would agree that’s a good kind of extremism.
Which brings me to the murder of Cayler Ellingson, the young man from North Dakota who was killed last week by a leftwing fanatic who said he (Ellingson) was an “extreme Republican” even though there is no evidence to suggest he had ever been a threat to anyone. This horrific crime raises the question, what is an “extreme Republican?”
According to America’s make-believe president, an extreme Republican is a fascist, so when he rages on and on about Republicans being extremists, his vulgar rhetoric is meant to cause harm — including physical harm — to Republicans, especially those who admit to being MAGA Republicans. The logical inference from Biden’s claim that Republicans are fascists is that it’s a justification to kill them. After all, killing fascists in World War II was considered a noble endeavor.
Which raises another question: What exactly is it that makes MAGA Republicans fascists? Is it because of their appalling desire to make America great again? More specifically, is it because they see the American flag as a symbol of freedom? Or because they want to ban the killing of infants in the womb? Or because they believe in the Constitutional right of every American to keep and bear arms to defend himself and his family?
Republicans even take the extreme position of being against the genital mutilation of children. Almost as bad, they use insensitive words like mom, dad, man, and woman and have the audacity to want to prevent foreigners from coming into the country unless they are properly vetted and follow an orderly application process.
Above all, MAGA Republicans are extreme when it comes to believing in the idea that liberty must be given a higher priority than all other objectives. That kind of extremism is a bridge too far for Democrats, because it flies in the face of their totalitarian goals. In truth, of course, it is those goals that constitute the most dangerous kind of extremism.
The time has come for Republicans to turn things right side up and explain to Americans that the real threat to their wellbeing comes from the most dangerous kind of extremists — those who, among other things, want to bring modern civilization to its knees by banning fossil fuels, by turning violent criminals loose on our streets, by abolishing the police, and, most important, by shutting down dissenting viewpoints. The latter is the worst kind of extremism, because it is the essence of totalitarianism and robs people of their freedom.
Republicans, who are notoriously poor messengers, would do well to heed Barry Goldwater’s words and emphasize that exercising one’s constitutional and natural rights to an extreme is not a vice, and failing to be harsh with those who want to take away those rights is not a virtue. Sadly, the senator from Arizona was ahead of his time, but his message would be a surefire winner in today’s environment.
Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.