Just over a half-century ago, a sharp-tongued conservative seized the Republican Party and led it to one of its worst presidential election defeats in history: the landslide loss of nominee Barry Goldwater to President Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
The victim proved to be a hapless candidate, but he was much loved among the faithful, millions of whom clung to the notion to the end that he would win the White House. The affection for Goldwater endured thereafter, embraced by the California political newcomer Ronald Reagan, who was elected governor of California two years later and eventually won the Oval Office in 1980.
Two rather improbable conservatives are doing a fair Barry Goldwater imitation this election year. Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz are coming to the fore of the Grand Old Party as apostles of the true right-wing gospel, with plenty of tough talk thrown in.
Suddenly, the Republican establishment of center-right politics that reigned from the Goldwater defeat through the presidencies of Nixon, Ford, Reagan and two Bush administrations is being cast aside for a pair of outsiders.