There’s a 1964 presidential campaign ad that’s burning up the interwebs because it eerily predicts several aspects of the 2016 campaign, particularly the rise of Donald Trump. “Confessions of a Republican” was President Lyndon Johnson‘s broadside against Sen. Barry Goldwater, and featured four minutes of actor Bill Bogert (an actual Republican who apparently predicted George Will) waxing anxious about his party’s nominee in ways that are strikingly similar to the anxieties of Trump’s GOP opponents. Here’s a taste (the full ad is here):
…those people who got control of that convention: Who are they? I mean, when the head of the Ku Klux Klan, when all these weird groups come out in favor of the candidate of my party — either they’re not Republicans or I’m not.
The key difference, of course, is that any Republican cutting an ad like that today would have to be blinder than Clayton Bigsby not to have seen Trump coming.
As prescient as it is, “Confessions of a Republican” isn’t the only ad from that 1964 campaign that lines up with the Trump phenomenon. Although it would have been really timely last week, I could definitely see almost this exact ad running against Trump in the general election (warning: NSFW language):
“We represent the majority of the people in Alabama who hate niggerism, Catholicism, Judaisim, and all the -isms of the whole world.” So said Robert Creel of the Alabama Klu Klux Klan. He also said, “I like Barry Goldwater. He needs our help.”
Once again, the major difference here is that in 1964, a Republican presidential candidate being endorsed by the Klan was unusual, but since they endorsed Ronald Reagan twice, Trump’s support from David Duke is hardly a Keyser Soze moment.
But if you really want to get a Sixth Sense-style chill, think back to last week, when former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney delivered that weird anti-Trump, pro-whoever speech, in which he warned against the commission of democratic suicide. Now check out this clip from an LBJ ad in which the narrator reads quotes about Goldwater, complete with the “-ism” suffix that has been attached to Trump as well:
The day before the convention he called Goldwaterism a “crazy quilt collection of absurd and dangerous positions.” Or this man, Governor Romney. In June, he said Goldwater’s nomination would lead to the “suicidal destruction of the Republican Party.”
Whoah! And did you know Goldwater’s wife was named “Schmelania?”
Okay, I made that one up, but the rest is all true, these are real campaign ads from 1964. If Hillary Clinton manages to stave off Bernie Sanders, she ought to have her campaign team get to work reproducing them, because they apparently worked.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.