Fifty years ago in 1964, a private individual paid for a billboard on the Eishenhower Expressway just east of Austin Boulevard. The sign showed a large picture of Sen. Barry Goldwater and the slogan, "In you heart you know he's right."
In 1965 the sign was changed to read "In time you will know he was right." By late 1967 when President Johnson had lost popularity due to the war in VietNam and inflation and taxes at home, the sign was changed one last time to read, "Now you know he was right."
The Goldwater campaign for president in 1964 was probably a nonstarter when President Johnson succeeded to the office on the violent death of President Kennedy in November 1963. The American public was not ready for a change to a conservative president or for three different presidents in a span of only 14 months. But Ronald Reagan became a political rising star with his famous speech on national TV to raise money for the Goldwater campaign and he defeated Democratic Gov. Pat Brown two years later in California by a million votes. The leaders and grassroots Goldeater-Reagan conservatives took over the national party and by 1976 Reagan came within a few delegate votes of unseating President Gerald Ford and went on to win the 1980 nomination and defeat Jimmy Carter in the fall.
While Sen. Robert A. Taft (R-Ohio) carried the conservative banner until he died in 1953, it was Sen. Goldwater who changed the face of the GOP and built the conservative movement of the 1970s that set the stage for a victory by Gov. Reagan in 1980. I did not always agree with Sen. Goldwater in his later years, but he did live to see many of his views vindicated and conservatives today owe his memory a debt for running when he did not want to.