Many people were horrified by values the hippies embraced. This was seen through the rejection of the Vietnam war, which seemed unpatriotic, the rejection of materialism, which seemed lazy, the rejection of marriage, which seemed immoral, and the embrace of drug culture, which seemed destructive. Hippies also supported (eventually) equal rights for groups like women and gays, which seemed subversive to the social order. Many Americans were unsympathetic to hippie ideals for building a better world. Because the movement seemed to be growing in strength and numbers, and was also associated with socialism, it created fear. Fear then created a backlash that led to people coming together to forcefully resist change.
Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew were able to exploit this fear in the 1968 and 1972 presidential elections by addressing a "silent majority" of Americans who, they said, stood for patriotism and traditional values. They won two elections in part through appealing to the backlash against a hippie movement that many saw as going too far. William Buckley was also able to mobilize his conservative group Young Americans for Freedom. Phyllis Schafly organized STOP to counter the Equal Rights Amendment. Fear of change motivated right-wing groups to aggressively articulate a conservative agenda and philosophy.