Race, Rights, and Party
THE CONSERVATIVE REVOLUTION that took root within the Republican party in the early 1960s, the revolution that first coalesced around the 1964 Goldwater campaign, did not reach its full development until the election of 1980. Conservative ideologues, especially in the South, slowly consolidated their power over the Republican presidential nomination process in the years following Goldwater's 1964 defeat, as their own political philosophy became increasingly viable in—and salable to—an electorate turning to the right. Ronald Reagan, breaking into national politics with a televised speech in support of Goldwater in 1964, went on to spend the eight years between 1966 and 1975 cutting his political teeth— and honing his conservative edge—as governor of California.
Reagan's years in the California governor's mansion were a training ground in the politics of race, rights, and taxes. His tenure in office was dominated by fair-housing controversies, the free-speech and anti-war movements on campuses, by the aftermath of the massive black riots in Watts, by unprecedented Hispanic (and later Asian) immigration, by battles to reduce exploding welfare rolls, and by the birth of the citizen tax revolt. The enormous suburban growth of the state, providing a demographic base for a selectively expanding conservatism, and California's advanced involvement in competitive trade with Asia's industrial-technological sector, placed the state in the forefront of developments that would dominate national politics throughout the late 1970s and the 1980s.
During his two terms as governor, Reagan became a spokesman for a political and governing philosophy in which the insulation of the private sector, and the insulation of private citizens, from an intrusive govern