Republican extremists: Martin Luthur King, Jr. and Barry Goldwater

Democrats today love name-calling about Republican “extremism.” I’t not getting much traction, but it does have a distinguished history. So…with a hat tip to a recent column by George Will, here’s what Dr. Martin Luthur King, Jr. had to say about “extremism.” In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” he wrote as follows:

Dr. Martin Luthur King, Jr. on "extremism"
Senator Barry Goldwater on "extremism"

You speak of our activity in Birmingham as extreme…. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love…. Was not Amos an extremist for justice…. Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel…. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

The sainted Sen. Barry Goldwater said something similar when he gave his acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention in San Francisco in 1964:

Anyone who joins us in all sincerity, we welcome. Those who do not care for our cause, we don’t expect to enter our ranks in any case. And let our Republicanism, so focused and so dedicated, not be made fuzzy and futile by unthinking and stupid labels. 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.

I’ve been political my entire life, starting out with Barry Goldwater and The Conscience of a Conservative in the1960’s. In 1967 I enlisted in the U.S. Marines for four years, spending nearly two of them in South Vietnam. In 1972 I was a Florida presidential elector for Prof. John Hospers, the first Presidential candidate of the national Libertarian Party which was founded that same year. During the late 1970’s and into the 1980’s I was a contributing editor and monthly columnist for Reason magazine, and I’ve authored numerous articles in the print and online media about various subjects relating to individual rights and personal freedom. Today I’m a lawyer by profession; I divide my time between New Hampshire and Florida all year long, spending much of my time practicing law in Florida. As an early supporter and past member of the board of directors of the Free State Project, I was drawn to the Live Free or Die state of New Hampshire in late 2003 when it was chosen by a vote of the first 5,000 FSP participants. In 2004 I founded the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire, and continue today to work within the state political system to advance the traditional NH values of frugal small government, low taxes, small business, free enterprise, and self-responsibility. To all, I say “Come and see what we are building in the beautiful, healthy, livable Free State of New Hampshire!”