In 1964, the Republican Party chose one of the most polarizing figures in contemporary American history as their nominee: Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. Goldwater, who railed against Social Security, argued for the cessation of federal aid for education, and advocated for the repeal of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, also opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, having identified the Southern white vote as a potential key to Republican expansion. He famously proclaimed, "We're not going to get the Negro vote as a bloc in 1964 and 1968, so we ought to go hunting where the ducks are." And hunt he did, breaking the Democrats' historic lock on the 'Solid South.' "When you look at Goldwater you are looking at the inception of coded racial appeals," notes Ian Haney López, Author of Dog Whistle Politics and Professor at Berkeley Law.
His positions on foreign policy were controversial also, with Goldwater rejecting the containment strategies that had allowed the United States to co-exist with the Soviet Union since the late 1940s in favor of winning the Cold War outright, "lobbing [missiles] into the men's room at the Kremlin."
Such inflammatory rhetoric from the would-be-President of a nuclear superpower at the height of the Cold War disquieted many at home and abroad, as Charles Collingwood reports in this CBS archival footage:
"He seems to have stirred up reactions deeper than the ordinary stuff of politics or the ordinary distrust of American influence. They go, I think, to a deep division in the politics of every European country. Deeper even, than it is in the United States -- the division between those who yearn for the past, and those who are committed to the future.
In so far as Senator Goldwater appears to Europeans to advocate a return to the past, and he does, though it's an American past, he has brought to the surface great dormant issues in European politics. Thus, in his own way, and aside from the specific content of what he says, he is affecting the internal politics of every European country."
Donald Trump's candidacy, marked by his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States among other proposed immigration-curbing measures, has elicited a similarly dramatic response in Europe: a piece in Der Spiegel, one of Europe's largest and most influential publications, identifying him as "the leader of a new, hate-filled authoritarian movement," and going on to note, "[n]othing would be more harmful to the idea of the West and world peace than if he were to be elected president."
Trump's stance on immigration should sound familiar to longtime observers of European politics. It parallels, at least vaguely, what the European right has been articulating, to varying degrees of success, for decades. In fact, Austrian politician Norbert Hofer, who has pledged to "stop the invasion of Muslims", build a fence on the southern border to prevent migrant entry, and put "Austria First", is the front-runner of that nation's presidential election this Sunday.
Goldwater ultimately lost to President Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 election in one of the most crushing defeats in US political history. The Johnson re-election efforts focused on presenting dire potential outcomes of Goldwater's militarism and on turning him, in the public eye, into a laughing stock. To the Goldwater slogan, 'In your heart, you know he's right', Democrats threw, 'In your guts, you know he's nuts'. Goldwater won 5 states in the Deep South and a narrow victory in his home state of Arizona for a total of 52 electoral votes.