Phyllis Schlafly had me on her radio program earlier this year. At 91, she was not as in command as she once had been. She had help and a radio partner guiding the show. But she knew the issues and she cared about the issues. She was a fountain of knowledge on cultural and social issues. What she had seen once in her lifetime, she was seeing come back again into the mainstream. She was prepared to fight again. But today, less than a month after turning 92, she went home to her maker.
In 1964, Phyllis Schlafly became the grande dame of the conservative movement with her book A Choice, Not an Echo. She took on the Republican Establishment, which then as now, refused to even admit it existed. While Goldwater did not win that year, Schlafly helped light the spark that fueled the fire of the conservative revolution.
By the 1970’s and the rise of liberalism entrenched even within the Nixon Administration, Schlafly went to work shutting down the Equal Rights Amendment. She was so successful that, at death, her obituaries in mainstream publications are noticeably less hagiographic than if she were a liberal pioneer.
In 1972, Schlafly founded the Eagle Forum and it remained till the last year or so a highly influential conservative organization. Many female conservative activists found a home at Eagle Forum that was not available elsewhere. Schlafly made sure to train them, educate them, and keep them involved in a process that was otherwise filled with men.
In 1992, the gay rights movement turned their sights on Schlafly, outting her eldest son. Schlafly stood by her son, who stood by his mother’s views. “All my children are adults and lead their own lives,” she told the Washington Post, noted she loved her son. While attacked as a hypocrite, Schlafly did not do as so many others did. She held firm to her traditional views and a faithful view of Christianity while showing it is possible to love a sinner without embracing the sin.
While in the last few years there has been controversy over others using Phyllis Schlafly’s image for their own ends, including the current legal battle over Eagle Forum and questions related to recent candidate endorsements, Schlafly did her best to stay engaged. She even appeared at this year’s Republican National Convention.
Phyllis Schlafly was a committed partisan and, more importantly, a committed ideological warrior. Her conservatism was grounded in her faith and any who came into contact with her understood that at the end of the day she relied on her Savior more than her politics.
Phyllis Schlafly was not afraid to be disliked nor was she was concerned with getting credit. These personality traits made her into a force to be reckoned with and enabled this housewife and mother of six to shape the direction of the nation far more than many with greater name recognition.
Phyllis Schlafly will be missed, but now at least has rejoined Fred, her husband, in their Father’s house.