It was because of Goldwater the GOP nearly became extinct. Nixon, while a criminal president, largely went along with popular progressive initiatives like the forming of the EPA because he really had no choice. These ideas were overwhelmingly popular at the time and conservatism was largely marginalized.
It took a Republican strategist by the name of Jude Wanniski to develop a plan out of the pit Republicans had found themselves in. And that plan was to flip the script via bad faith politics…to no longer be honest about conservatism.
One of those bad faith strategies we all should know already, the push for supply-side economics, also known as trickledown economics…or as our last truly conservative president, Bush Sr. called it, “voodoo economics.” A complete sham that asserts that the wealthy drive the economy, not supply-demand. Eg. we must reward the wealthy at every opportunity.
The lesser known scam is Wanniski’s “two santas theory” which is somewhat diabolical in how well it has duped a lot of voters. Basically when in power Republicans spend like no tomorrow, give out irresponsible stimulus, drive up debt, so by the time Democrats take over, the levers for stimulus when actually needed are limited, and Republicans cry fowl at the deficits further restricting the ability of Dems to “play Santa” and implement the policies and social programs that were so popular before Reagan. The average Republican voter is none the wiser, even though this scam is done in plain sight.
Both of these scams combined have destroyed this nation from within…all for the sake of Republican re-elections and a widening wealth gap.