Like father, like son: Barry Goldwater Jr. visits Pitt

Barry Goldwater Jr., son of former Arizona senator Barry Goldwater, talked about his childhood in the limelight and opinions on current politics Thursday evening. (Photo by Sarah Cutshall | Staff Photographer)

After college, Barry Goldwater Jr. decided to become a stockbroker, while his best friend studied to be a doctor.

Their lives diverged from this point forward — and so did their income.

“Does that mean that the government should come and take much of what he has earned? I say no,” Goldwater Jr. said. “It means that we are both free men in a free society where free choices lead to different outcomes.”

Barry Goldwater Jr., a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives, spoke to students in the William Pitt Union Lower Lounge Wednesday night. His speech — hosted and organized by Pitt Students for Liberty and Young Americans for Liberty — gave audience members a glimpse of his childhood, career and current political views.

Vice President of Pitt Students for Liberty, Jeremy Reiff, was excited to host Goldwater at Pitt. The sophomore physics and mathematical economics major felt it would be an opportunity for people to hear from someone who actually contributed to the libertarian movement.

“Goldwater kind of embodies what libertarianism is. He was involved in politics and also had a really successful career in private industry and finance,” Reiff said. “He authored [the Privacy Act of 1974] that still is referenced today with regards to privacy so that was really why we brought him here.”

Reiff also said Goldwater Jr. would be an ideal person to clear up any misconceptions people may have about libertarianism.

“I think the standard take that people have on libertarianism is that we don’t like poor people, or that we are hands off everything,” Reiff said. “Really it’s about living their own lives and doing what they want to do.”

Goldwater Jr.’s father, Barry Goldwater, was a five-term U.S. Senator from Arizona and ran in the 1964 election against Lyndon B. Johnson as the Republican party’s nominee. Goldwater Jr.’s father played a large role in his son’s life thereafter, according to the guest speaker.

“I learned much from my father growing up. Honesty, good moral values, and hardwork would all take me down my road,” Goldwater Jr. said. “He always told me, if it’s to be, then it’s up to me.”

Goldwater Jr. went on to express his beliefs in the role the government should play in citizen’s lives. His suggestions were widespread with ideas such as stimulating economic growth to create jobs for the poor, taking the regulatory shackles off of small business and limited government — all of which he thinks are absent in present day America.

“As the Constitution and Declaration of Independance reflect, individuals have the natural and god-given rights to live their lives anyway they choose so long as it is conducted in a peaceful way,” Goldwater Jr. said. “It is the government’s responsibility to protect, not destroy those inherent rights.”

Goldwater Jr. also gave a brief personal summary of today’s political climate and even cited the 2016 election — giving reasons for why President Donald Trump won the presidential race.

“We as citizens are responsible for our decisions,” Goldwater Jr. said. “This was a populist election. Loss of jobs, staggered wages, loss of privacy, and the liberal media made the majority of Americans mad, and they voted Donald Trump president.”

Goldwater Jr.’s speech drew loud applauses and laughter, and left undecided first-year Anfeznee La Cruz with a positive impression of the event. La Cruz didn’t have many expectations going into the speech being that he was unfamiliar with the Goldwater family, but he nonetheless was provoked by Goldwater Jr.’s words.

“Some of the things he talked about I was kind of weighing the positives and negatives,” La Cruz said. “It’s not like anything he said was strikingly wrong in any way. Simply put, it was something everyone would want.”

Kate Ranck, a sophomore math major, offered a similar reaction to Goldwater Jr.’s speech. Despite minimal prior knowledge of Goldwater Jr., she was still able to connect with his perspective.

“As a libertarian, I agree with most of what he said. He didn’t really have any hot takes on any political issues, so I more enjoyed his anecdotal stories,” Ranck said.

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