"I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. 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 have failed their purpose ... or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is 'needed' before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should be attacked for neglecting my constituents' 'interests,' I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty, and in that cause I am doing the very best I can."
by:
Barry Goldwater
(1909-1998) US Senator (R-Arizona)
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Reader comments about this quote:
Inspiring rhetoric.
 -- David L. Rosenthal     
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    I know of only one Legislature who still thinks this way. I know nothing of Goldwater, but I would give this quote more stars than 5 if I could for its sentiment.
     -- Logan, Memphis, TN     
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    By this statement alone, Goldwater today would have to opt out of the GOP and join either the Libertarian or Constitutional Parties.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    sounds like a Founding Father...
     -- anonymous     
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    A couple hundred like him in Congress and we might could restore this Constitutional Republic.
     -- Mike, Mount Holly, NC     
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    I don't believe it for a minute, just another radical with his own agenda...
     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA US     
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    Too bad the GOP and neo-cons do not support such fundamental principles. Of course it would be nice if the Democrats did, too, but that would be asking too much I think.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    Wonderful, just, moral, right and Constitutional. Unfortunately, few in Congress follow this line of thought and reasoning. I'd vote for all radicals who spout this inspiring rhetoric!
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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    Radical? Agenda? Reston: You are the one who on another page asked "What is wholesome restraint?" Barry Goldwater might not have been capable of achieving what he promoted, but he had a clear and wholesome vision.
     -- David L. Rosenthal     
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    Sounds good to a strict conservative, or libertarian, but didn't to the voters in 1964. And even those who like the sound of it prefer to hold onto their jobs and keep on borrowing and spending. I prefer the way Kennedy put it: "Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country." It implies a certain positive effort ...not just the cry of the well-off, "I got mine, to hell with the rest" That's what Goldwater sounded like to average people. He said it in another quote: "I'm a conservative. I want to conserve two vital natural resources; gold and water"
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
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    I'd say "Ask not what your country can do for you, and let them not ask me for anything." People shouldn't be looking for handouts, and the government shouldn't be giving them. Not to the people in this country, and not to the people of other countries.
     -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
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    Who's looking for handouts, Joe? I simply say JFK had it right. It's that positive effort, rather than every man for himself, that makes Jimmy Carter build houses for the poor in addition to all his work Maybe he asked what he can do for his country.
     -- Jack, Green, OH     
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    Barry, we need you now! I wish Jimmy would shut up and build more houses. The country is evenly divided between people who want to live their own live and people who want their lives laid out for them. - an interesting dynamic!
     -- Bob, Eugene OR     
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     -- P.M.      
     -- dave, tuscaloosa      
    Ron Paul is the closest one i have ever heard to Barry Goldwater! Goldwater said to give the federal government the power of "civil rights" would be giving it "all power." IT DID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     -- cal, lewisville     
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    Missions impossible: freedom and democracy or freedom and legal tender. The sole function of legal tender laws is to get labor and property without payment. One minister's comments on legal tender: www.morpix.biz/god The late Merrill Jenkins, Monetary Realist, said "freedom is the absence of legislation."
     -- Dave Wilber, St. Louis     
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    Ask not what government will for for you but ask what they will do to us bext.
     -- Dave Wilber, St. Louis     
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    Barry Goldwater was "the voice of one crying in the wilderness'" to borrow a phrase. He was too far ahead of his time. It was a glorious few years. He and JFK were friends and both were looking forward to running against each other for President in 1964. We all know what happened, but we cannot know what might have been. Barry did lead to Reagan and for that we can be thankful. We will never know who was responsibile for what happened in Dallas. It's funny/weird how the time worn search for motive among those who benefitted from the death is rarely pursued when a President is killed. It tells you something.
     -- J. B. Wulff, Bristol     
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    I liked Barry personally and voted for him when I was 18. He spoke clearly. I liked his crew cut. I really admired when he stood up and supported Bill Clinton years later and was virtually dumped by the Republican Party. I had trouble with the "conscience of a conservative" thing, I did not know and still am not sure they have one. Why are not conservatives interested in conserving, like the environment. I agree with Jack that conservatives always seem to be an anti, always a negative party, rather than a positive force. I give it two cause I liked Barry and his embrace of Bill Clinton.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Brilliant in its simplicity.
     -- J Carlton, Calgary     
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    Goldwater hoped that the federal government could be slowly decreased to its intended role, thus minimizing the pain to those who have come to depend on others. In this he was an idealist and a humanitarian. His mistake is that all central governments grow their own power at the expense of the governed until they are unsustainable and collapse fully and are replaced by more localized governments or usurped by foreign ones.
     -- Justin, Elkland, Missouri     
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    What a shame that we elected the crook, LBJ, when we could have elected Barry.
     -- jim k, austin     
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     -- Elise LaVigne, Seattle      
    As always Waffler you are clueless.
     -- warren, olathe     
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    The best thing anyone can do for our country is to return in spirit to the moral principles protected by our Constitution and then fight for them. Anything less will not work.
     -- Anon     
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     -- James B Clark, Melbourne      
    What we need is More Barry's & less commies, less libs, less aclu, less Pelosi, Reid's , Boxer's & less B.O.
     -- Airborn, Redondo Beach     
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     -- Chris Ferrell, Wisconsin      
    Just awesome, right on the money and far ahead of his time. The encroachment of government is a cancer and we will be terminal with the inception of the obama healthcare bill for it is the ultimate form of welfare and will inexorably change the relationship between the people and government.
     -- Von, Philadelphia     
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    Fantastic! We really need to print up this statement up and send it to Congress. All bills should be just long enough to be read thoroughly - and taken apart to see if they are truly Constitutional. No lobbyists should have any voice in it at all. Barry Goldwater would be having a truly outrageous fit with this health care bill. Why should a bill, this important be 2,700 pages long, that's just wrong in itself. Also there is a TRIBUNAL in it, a group of people (in different areas of the country) who decide if you do get that operation - are you worth the cost? They decide how long it's going to take for you to heal: drugs, physical therapy..etc If you don't heal fast enough, your "health care is dropped"..it's actually in the bill! In the health care bill doctors will really be stretched: How long they can spend with a patient.....AND: Doctors can only prescribe Drugs - it will be against the law for him to suggest: to suck on a lemon with sugar on it for an upset stomach. (Does work), or rub on Apple Cider Vinegar on a sunburn, use a teaspoon of it in an 8oz glass of water with juice in it Plus some honey for Arthritis pain and overall aches and pains. Now what does have to do with Barry Goldwater? This all is based on: The Right of Choice, the Freedom to be able to choose if you want to use something "Natural", and not made to take a drug whether you like it or not! No, I'm not totally against RX meds - BUT, why can't we be able to use BOTH? These ancient remedies have been around since even longer than 2,000 years before Christ! Tea Tree Oil is another great thing to try....also heals scrapes, cuts, sore teeth....a whole load of things. This Health Care Bill will make it illegal for a doctor to prescribe these things and for us to take them to keep us healthy. I'm sorry for taking so long. We must be passionate about staying healthy and being able to decide what is right in our own lives - not told what to do by the government. It is unconstitutional.
     -- Noni Switzer, Wickenberg, AZ     
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    What a different country itwould be today if Barry had won in '64.
     -- art, cleveland     
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