Let's list everything Goldwater did wrong so that we can examine these items so that we don't end up repeating them.
He mentioned liberty without throwing in the meat of hating communists.
Definition of political insanity: Voting for the same people expecting different results.
said he would throw a nuclear warhead inside the kremlin.
vocalist - Look What I Did - liberty friendly melodic mathcore band from Tennessee, RIYL The Dillinger Escape Plan, Self, Mr. Bungle feat new album Atlas Drugged produced by Brian Virtue (Jane's Addiction, Chevelle, 30 Seconds to Mars) with songs like "Jekyll Island Fiat Scratch (Burn Down the Federal Reserve)" and "My Girlfriend, Leo Strauss"
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He threatened to shrink the government. Sound like someone else we know?
He was seen by most people as a neocon, and he did make a few bellicose statements that might have given that impression.
Compared to Reagan who presented a similar message in a friendly manner, Goldwater came across as a meaner hotter personality.
Goldwater was really sunk by his comments about nuclear war, which LBJ hit him hard on (ie, Daisy Ad.) I see this one as a pretty easy problem to avoid.
“One of the greatest delusions in the world is the hope that the evils in this world are to be cured by legislation.” - Thomas Brackett Reed
Yes, I think inspiration is a big part of it. Reagan and Obama are/were both considered inpirational. It probably doesn't matter what they say, since people like their ability to convey a positive message.
If this is true, inspirational president trumps substance, RP would never win.