This essay examines California Republican Senator Thomas Kuchel in honor of his 101 birthday this August, tracing Kuchel's fight against the conservative Right during the 1960s. More specifically, the essay highlights Kuchel as the last vestige of California's progressive Republicans and his effort to protect the GOP from right-wing corrosion and the likes of Nixon, Goldwater, George Murphy, and especially Ronald Reagan. Ultimately it was this effort that united the corporate conservatives of Reaganism to oust the 32 year political veteran in 1968.
Based on periodicals and primary research conducted in the political papers of Thomas Kuchel, Barry Goldwater, and Alan Cranston, the essay posits that remembering Kuchel will push us to reflect on the real change of the Republican Party under Reaganism, both nationally and in California. With no biographies written and his own centennial overshadowed by the political pageantry of Reagan's, remembering Thomas Kuchel offers an important and much needed political perspective.
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