Schlafly Joins Ranks of Buckley, Goldwater, Reagan || Lifezette

Schlafly Joins Ranks of Buckley, Goldwater, Reagan

‘Little doubt … America today would have long ago been devoid of true conservatism if not for her leadership’

Long before Phyllis Schlafly almost single-handedly took down the Equal Rights Amendment (a Trojan horse for a number of radical, left-wing priorities), she helped galvanize conservative women for Barry Goldwater’s 1964 takeover of the Republican Party.

Goldwater ultimately lost the general election that year in a landslide but his nomination paved the way for conservatives, generally, and Ronald Reagan, specifically, to find national ascendance. Without Schlafly, who died Monday at age 92, the Reagan revolution might not have happened.

Reagan biographer Craig Shirley recalled that Schlafly and her followers were derided as “little old ladies in tennis shoes” during the 1964 campaign.

“But they didn’t realize those little old ladies had strong backs and big feet, and they kicked people’s a**es,” he told LifeZette.

As news of Schlafly’s death spread, the accolades quickly accumulated. The Eagle Forum, which she founded as a vehicle to stop the ERA, called her “an iconic American leader whose love for America was surpassed only by her love of God and her family.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement that he has “little doubt that the political and cultural landscape of America today would have long ago been devoid of true conservatism if not for her leadership.”

Speaking on “The Laura Ingraham Show” Tuesday, conservative commentator Pat Buchanan said Schlafly was an “astonishing” figure in American history.

“She really was not only the first lady of American conservatism, she was a great American,” he said.

Schlafly was the oldest of two daughters born to John and Odile Stewart in St. Louis, Missouri. Despite getting laid off during the Great Depression and never fully recovering financially, John Stewart remained a stalwart Republican and critic of the New Deal. Schlafly inherited her father’s conservatism, which she promoted with enthusiasm through two failed bids for Congress and seven decades of political activism.

Her self-published 1964 book, “A Choice, Not an Echo,” sold 3 million copies and became one of the most influential political tomes of the 20th century. Schlafly scored her biggest political triumph in the 1970s when she stepped up to fight the ERA, which was steamrolling to passage. It had overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives and cleared the Senate by a vote of 84-8 when Schlafly took up the cause. She argued that the amendment would not give women any more rights but would imperil privileges they had, such as protection from the draft.

“It was a given it was going to pass,” recalled Buchanan, who won Schlafly’s endorsement when he ran for president in 1996. “It had gone through 30-plus states when she stepped in. It only needed 38. It got up to 35. And when she went to work, she stopped it cold from getting three more.”

Shirley noted that the ERA had the support of both party platforms in 1972. He said Schlafly helped persuade the GOP to make opposition to the ERA the party’s official position in 1976 and to adopt an anti-abortion plank four years later.

Although she was best known for defeating the ERA, Schlafly began her career as a conservative crusader fighting communism in the 1950s. Shirley said she was there for Goldwater and Reagan and continued the fight on behalf of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in the 1990s, staying active all the way up to her death. She lent Republican Donald Trump important conservative credibility when she endorsed him during the GOP primaries.

“She’s one of the half-dozen most important conservatives of the last century,” said Shirley, putting her in a category with Reagan, Goldwater, and National Review founder William F. Buckley. “She emphasized a lot of issues other people shied away from, social conservatism and family values. She went right after radical feminism and beat them at their own game — frequently.”

“It’s hard to think of a political activist who had as long an impact on the political debate, who was never elected to office,” he said.

Trump paid tribute in a prepared statement, calling Schlafly a “conservative icon who led millions to action” against globalism and a rigged political system.

“I was honored to spend time with her during this campaign as she waged one more great battle for national sovereignty,” Trump stated. “I was able to speak with her by phone only a few weeks ago, and she sounded as resilient as ever.”