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The Norman Thomas - Barry Goldwater Debate

This debate between Norman Thomas and Barry Goldwater took place on a college campus in Tucson, Arizona in November of 1961. The event is mentioned in W.A. Swanberg's biography of Norman Thomas, Norman Thomas: the Last Idealist, on page 436. There's no indication in the notes whether Swanberg had listened to a recording of the debate or if he had cribbed from a written account of the event. The December 8, 1961 (Volume 2, Number 3) issue of the Socialist Party's newspaper, New America, had this account:

Norman Thomas addressed a series of successful meetings in Arizona in late November. In Phoenix he spoke at the Phoenix Public Library on Conservatism and the Anti-Communist Craze. The sponsor of the meeting was the New America Forum. In Tucson, he debated Senator Barry Goldwater, and spoke at a dinner of the Tucson local of the SP-SDF. A drive to organize SP-SDF locals and YPSL chapters at Phoenix and Tempe is now taking place. New America readers in those areas are invited to participate. Contact George Papeun, 1628 N. Tyndall, Tucson, Arizona.

The opening statements and rebuttals were followed by a question and answer session. The question and answer session was not included in the copy we digitized, unfortunately. Norman Thomas speaks first, then Senator Goldwater.

This is an interesting exchange, especially as many of the issues remain the same, more than a half century later. However, while both Thomas and Goldwater have reputations as ideologists, in truth both were rather more interested in politics.


The sound quality of this recording is very good, enough so that we probably should have compromised it in the interests of file size. Not recommended for those using a dialup connection as this mp3 format file will take over 4 hours to download at dialup speeds; it's a big file. 1:03:25 minutes; 74 megabytes; click here to download or use the player below.


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