Two prominent figures from the U.S. conservative movement -- both of whom got their start as Indiana University student activists in the 1960s -- will return to campus next week to take part in a forum marking the 50-year anniversary of Barry Goldwater’s campaign for president.
R. Emmett Tyrell Jr., founder and editor-in-chief of the American Spectator, and Tom Charles Huston, who served as an aide to President Richard Nixon, will discuss the Goldwater campaign and its legacy in a program sponsored by the IU Civic Leaders Center. The forum will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29, in the Indiana Memorial Union Solarium.
“It’s going to be an exciting event,” said Paul Helmke, director of the Civic Leaders Center and professor of practice in the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs. “These are two people who played major roles in campus politics in the '60s and who have been prominent in the conservative movement. I think this should be of interest to people of all political stripes.”
Huston and Tyrell will discuss their experiences and take questions from a panel made up of Leslie Lenkowsky, clinical professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs; Stephen Moberly, a retired attorney and former state legislator; and Bloomington attorney Guy Loftman, who in the 1960s was IU student body president and president of Students for a Democratic Society. A question-and-answer session with the audience is also planned.
Huston, who earned a bachelor’s degree from IU in 1963 and a law degree from the university in 1966, was national chairman in the mid-1960s of Young Americans for Freedom, a campus-based conservative organization that played an important role in the Goldwater campaign.
He served as associate counsel to President Nixon from 1969 to 1971. After his time at the White House, he returned to Indiana and practiced law with the Indianapolis firm Barnes & Thornburg, chairing its real estate practice from 1976 to 1996. He is now retired.
Tyrell earned a bachelor’s degree from IU in 1965 and a master’s degree from IU in 1967. He founded The American Spectator, initially called The Alternative, as an IU student. He moved the magazine to Washington, D.C., in 1985.
He is the author of “Boy Clinton: the Political Biography”; “The Impeachment of William Jefferson Clinton”; “The Liberal Crack-Up”; “The Conservative Crack-Up” and other books. He makes frequent appearances on television and is a nationally syndicated columnist whose articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, National Review and other publications.
Goldwater suffered a crushing loss in 1964 to President Lyndon B. Johnson, getting less than 40 percent of the popular vote in what was widely seen as a rejection of his ideals. But activists redefined the outcome as a “glorious defeat” that signaled the rise of modern conservatism.
Ronald Reagan rose to prominence as a Goldwater supporter and was elected governor of California two years later and president 16 years later. More recently, Helmke said, the influence of the Goldwater campaign can be seen in Newt Gingrich’s direction of the Republican-controlled House in the 1990s, the rise of the Tea Party and the libertarian-oriented presidential campaign of Rand Paul.
About the Civic Leaders Center
The Civic Leaders Center is a residential facility at IU’s Briscoe Residence Hall and open to all IU students. The living-learning community focuses on public affairs and leadership training and is operated by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs.