The combination of flourishing independent conservative groups and the collapse of extremism produced a new set of opportunities for conservatives within the party. The conservative coalition grew throughout the 1970s as abortion, busing, the Equal Rights Amendment, the Panama Canal, and negotiations with the Soviet Union became mainstream concerns for Americans. In 1963, William Rusher had urged fellow conservatives to take a risk. If conservatism had seemingly triumphed by the end of the 1960s, the 1970s constituted its first real test. The John Birch Society (JBS) remained the most recognizable and one of the largest organizations on the far Right throughout the 1970s. Thirty years after the conservative movement captured the Republican Party in 1964, the godfather of modern electoral conservatism reaffirmed his libertarian roots and shocked colleagues and followers by becoming an advocate for gay rights.
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