He was major conservative force of the latter half of the twentieth century, with a career in politics that spanned 52 years. As U.S. Senator from North Carolina, Helms opposed gay and civil rights, modern art, and almost all kinds of foreign assistance; his nickname was "Senator No." His views made him a rallying point for both conservatives, who admired and defended him, and liberals, who lamented his divisive politics and strategies. He retired in 2003, after serving five terms in the Senate, including six years (from 1995 to 2001) as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.