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Conservative Movements of the 1960s

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Essay title: Conservative Movements of the 1960s

The 1960s and 1970s helped shape the conservative movement to grow in popularity and allowed conservatives to enjoy modern benefits such as economic prosperity and consumerism without conforming to liberal ideologies. The period of strong conservative support, the 1960s, usually refers to the time frame between 1964 through 1974. The grass roots mobilization started strong with the help of Orange County’s middle-class men and women volunteers. The effort and hard work of these people along with economic support from businesses such as the National Review helped to spread conservative philosophy. Other contributions to the effort include community meetings, film showing, handing out pamphlets, and Fred Schwarz’s school of anti-communism to inform Southern Californians of communist threat. Among anti-communism, conservatives also believe in the importance of religion, a restrictive government role, upholding traditional American values, and private business prosperity. The ethos upheld by long-time residents along with a heavy migration of people who would later join right-wing conservatism made Orange County the ideal location to enrich and expand the movement.

The characteristics of the cities, the migration of people, and the churches were some of the factors contributing to the spread of conservatism. Orange County was a perfect setting for the Right because suburbs such as Anaheim, Garden Grove, Buena Park, and Santa Ana provided economic and racial homogeneity, which were cities predominantly middle class and all white. Migrants of the 1960s were not like those during the Gold Rush because they arrive in California as a family unit to start a new life instead of single men mining for gold. Some of these newcomers brought with them morals and values from their hometown that fits well with ethos of conservatism. Churches became an important part of the community for the people of Orange County for old residents as well as the new. It was a place where people with common beliefs congregated, offering a sense of bond and familiarity. The number of Protestant churches, Methodists churches, Episcopal churches, and Baptist churches all grew in large numbers while preaching strict morals and anti-liberal beliefs. The location, the kind of people living in these locations, and their beliefs are but some of the contributions to conservative mobilization.

The middle-class and upper-middle men and women of Orange County made tremendous efforts to mobilize conservatism. They are small business owners, sales men, housewives, pharmacists, city officials, and even doctors, dentists, and engineers. The conservative philosophy seems promising to a bright future for those who migrated to California in search of job opportunities and to raise a family. They volunteer their time and effort to get the word out about a movement they thought to be of utmost importance in a communist-infested, morally-corrupted society. They used their home, schools, and churches to hold study groups, organize meetings, organize petitions, and as polling stations. They welcomed anti-communist lectures, encouraged readings that focus on preserving conservatism, and provide resources to activists by starting a library containing books, tapes, and films. This is the grass roots of the conservative movement that felt the strong need to mobilize to spread their social, economic, and political beliefs.

Conservatism was so deeply rooted in people that they went as far as making Ronald Reagan governor of California from 1967-1975. Conservatives do not agree with Democratic politics and Republican politics but realized they needed national representation for their cause to be effective. According to Lisa McGirr’s Suburban Warriors: The Origins of the New American Right, conservatives affiliate themselves with the Republican Party in order to use “electoral politics as a vehicle to influence the national government” (McGirr, 113). They also wanted control of the California Republican Assembly (CRA) in order to steer the Republican Party to the Right and be able to elect a conservative Republican to state office. Conservative activists and organizations such as the John Birch Society, under the leadership of Robert Welch, did extremely well to support the movement that Barry Goldwater won the California primary and the Republican Party presidential nomination. Conservatives were elated at the thought that one of their own would hold office to represent them and their concerns. Supporters for the Goldwater campaign were on top of the game plan, going door-to-door collecting signatures. However, despite the conservative’s exceptional work and their earnest desire to have a representative of their own in office, Goldwater did not win the national electorate because his extreme Right position frightened the general public, including some conservatives. Californians questioned the effectiveness

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