By Jonathon Van Maren
With the passing of Phyllis Schlafly at the age of 92 yesterday, a pro-life legend has fallen. I met her in Ohio just prior to the Republican Convention this summer, and frail as she was—I didn’t know she was suffering from cancer at the time–she was still working hard to further the causes of life and family that were so dear to her heart. In fact, it was because of Schlafly’s tenacity and ferocity that the Republican Party became a pro-life party in the first place, as she fought for the lives of pre-born babies from convention to convention, from city to city. As she told me in a 2014 interview:
It was a knock-down, drag-out fight at many of the conventions, particularly the one in Houston, the one in San Diego, the one in Philadelphia, the one in New York. And at the one in the beginning, the first one after Roe v. Wade was in Kansas City in 1976 and that wasn’t such a fight because we were really working to try nominate Reagan, which we were not successful at in that convention. But those other ones that I mentioned were tremendous battles that took all my political skill and know-how and contacts and mobilization and media interviews, but we put in a good plank and we have kept it in ever since 1976.”
She was a warrior for conservatism, and the Left hated her for it. As the New York Times obituary put it:
In her time, Mrs. Schlafly was one of the most polarizing figures in American public life, a self-described housewife who displayed a moral ferocity reminiscent of the ax-wielding prohibitionist Carry Nation. Richard Viguerie, who masterminded the use of direct mail to finance right-wing causes, called her “the first lady of the conservative movement.”
On the left, Betty Friedan, the feminist leader and author, compared her to a religious heretic, telling her in a debate that she should burn at the stake for opposing the Equal Rights Amendment. Ms. Friedan called Mrs. Schlafly an “Aunt Tom.”
The bile of the #LoveWins crowd is already beginning to surface, with The Concourse publishing a bitter column titled “Phyllis Schlafly finally croaks” and a myriad of other gleeful posthumous hate mail being sent out at a volume I haven’t seen since the deaths of Andrew Breitbart or Margaret Thatcher. They hate Schlafly because she was a brilliant, beautiful, and bold— “the Sweetheart of the Silent Majority” –for faith, life, and family, who never backed down and won more than she lost. The Left will never forgive her for single-handedly defeating the Equal Rights Amendment against all odds, and Schlafly’s mark on history is untouchable:
Her fabled foray onto the national political stage began with the publication of her 1964 classic A Choice Not An Echo. At the time of its writing, Schlafly was a housewife in a little town of Alton, Illinois, with six small children. Recognizing that it was unlikely anyone would publish her book, she opted to publish it herself and sell it out of her garage. A huge success, the book ultimately sold over three million copies, inspired a generation of conservatives, and became the definitive text delineating the battle lines between the conservative grassroots and the Republican Party elites.
In keeping with her lifelong devotion to educating the American electorate, the book is a detailed history of Republican National Conventions, and it shined a spotlight on the corrupt political process that historically has allowed elite cosmopolitan “kingmakers” to rig the system and elect candidates who will represent their donor class agenda. Many have described her seminal work to be just as relevant today as it was when she penned it over half a century ago…
The book proved instrumental in leading to Barry Goldwater’s nomination at the 1964 Republican convention and launching the modern day conservative movement.
Schlafly went on to write 26 other books — many of which she had to write after 10pm when her children were asleep.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, Schlafly began the formation of her “Eagle” brand — devoted to inspiring conservatives across the nation to get involved and fight for conservative principles. Today, her organization touts more than 25,000 members.
Schlafly is perhaps best known for launching the pro-family movement, which began with her decade-long crusade against the agenda of radical feminists and their efforts to push the so-called Equal Rights Amendment. The ERA had passed Congress in 1972 as part of a new wave of feminism and had been sent to the States for ratification. Because of Schlafly’s efforts, it ultimately fell three states short of being added to the Constitution.
Schlafly fought the communists, the feminists, the abortion activists, the liberal Republicans, and the enemies of religious liberty, and she did so magnificently. Her life was devoted to the defence of the family, and she will be sorely missed.