Republicans who imagine that there is still something happening with the Stop Trump movement would do well to consider these names:
- United States Ambassador to South Vietnam (and 1960 Republican vice-presidential nominee) Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.
- Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith
- Former Vice President Richard Nixon
- New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller
- Michigan Governor George Romney
- Pennsylvania Governor William Scranton
These were some of the prominent Republicans who, at different stages in the long 1964 primary process, were advanced by party elites as vehicles for a “Stop Goldwater” movement that sought to avert the nomination of Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater at the party’s national convention in San Francisco.
The “Stop Goldwater” movement of 1964—like the Stop Trump movement of 2016—got an immense amount of media attention. And it scored some primary wins (for Lodge as a write-in candidate in New Hampshire and for Rockefeller in Oregon)—along with some credible second-place results (for Smith in Illinois and for Nixon as a write-in candidate in Nebraska), which were spun as hopeful signs.
But the “Stop Goldwater” movement never really had a proper focus—in the form of one clearly defined challenger to the unelectable front-runner—and it never really got traction. The senator from Arizona kept winning where it mattered. He secured the nomination with ease. And then, as predicted, he failed miserably in November.
It’s important to remember the story of the “Stop Goldwater” movement of 1964 because, by comparison with the Stop Trump movement of 2016, it was a model of coherence and successful political engagement.
The Stop Trump movement is a flailing exercise in self-indulgence that cannot get its act together, let alone chart a path to victory. The movement’s most delusional champions imagined for a brief moment—around the time of the Wisconsin primary—that they could get things going for Texas Senator Ted Cruz, the only Republican contender who is less appealing than Trump. Cruz won Wisconsin, but then started on a losing streak that began with a miserable third-place finish in New York—behind not just Trump but also Ohio Governor John Kasich. Now Cruz has lost five more states.