In other words, the narrative about Goldwater as the guiding light of the post-war GOP is wrong. Nixon, and his allies, have driven the agenda since the late 1940s. Other Republicans (Eisenhower, Goldwater, Reagan) represented factions who, at most, were allowed a seat at the table created by Nixon.
First, consider the following facts about the elite Republican leadership:
* Nixon and his coalition were able to put themselves on the national ticket in 1952, which displaced earlier liberal Republicans.
* Nixon and his personal friend Gerald Ford were in office in 1969-1975.
* Regan – who had a different base than Nixon – had to accommodate another Nixon appointee – GHW Bush – as VP in 1980.
* Bush (a Nixon appointee) was president from 1989-93 and brought in more Nixon/Ford appointees (e.g., Cheney) to run things.
* Bush II’s campaign was run by a mix new folks (Rove, Hughes) and assisted by more old Nixonites (James Baker).
* Bush II’s administration, until about 2006 or so, was lead by Nixon and Ford appointees (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Powell).
The Nixon network (him and former staffers/appointees) have been in control of the presidency or vice presidency every time the GOP has won the national election. Furthermore, this network has controlled key national security positions very often in GOP administrations.