“I’ve had a fun life.”
So says Phyllis Schlafly, the prolific writer, speaker and conservative thinker who, at age 90, is still fighting to comfort the afflicted conservative while afflicting the comfortable. Especially the kingmakers.
She’s not done yet, either.
Mrs. Schlafly, the author of 25 books, still writes a weekly column, radio commentaries and a monthly newsletter, “The Phyllis Schlafly Report,” on current affairs.
Asked in a recent interview what it will take to see President Ronald Reagan’s “morning in America” again, she replies instantly with the candor that is her hallmark: “A change in the administration, for starters.”
But then there will be a lot of hard work disincentivizing welfare, re-incentivizing marriage and tackling the many forces — feminism, family courts, gay rights — that are undermining America’s “mom-and-pop” family culture and the powerful benefits it brings, she warns.
The nuclear family — i.e., mother and father, with father as provider — “is an economic entity that can support itself, and did support itself and built the greatest middle class in the history of the world,” says Mrs. Schlafly, the founder of Eagle Forum.
Reviving a strong, self-sufficient family culture is the only way out of the nation’s financial mess, she says.
“The social issues are the reason for the big, unbalanced budget and enormous spending,” she said, recalling one statistical estimate that President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s “War on Poverty” has now “cost more than all the wars our country ever fought.”
When fathers aren’t in the home, she says, women and children look to “Big Brother Government” and its costly welfare programs.
So, to cut the budget, “you’ve got to restore the family,” says Mrs. Schlafly, who is widowed after 44 years of marriage and has six children and 14 grandchildren.
Mrs. Schlafly famously crashed Republican boardrooms and backrooms in 1964 when she self-published a brisk little paperback called “A Choice Not an Echo.”
“I sold 3.5 million copies out of my garage,” she told The Washington Times.
The book exposed and named “kingmakers” who were picking Republican candidates and propelling them forward with the help of paid political workers, media cheerleaders and “propaganda blitzes” that made a credulous public believe the anointed candidate was there by public acclaim.
The book was “the major thing that invented the conservative movement, because it showed them the game plan, inspired them to go for a goal and to stick together afterwards,” she said.
“A Choice Not an Echo” galvanized support for Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, a conservative, free enterprise, Republican “choice,” not the “echo” of a liberal, big-government Democrat.
Goldwater lost by a landslide to incumbent President Lyndon B. Johnson, but the events of 1964 sowed the seeds for “our reward in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan,” Mrs. Schlafly says proudly.
Mrs. Schlafly, whose work will be honored Wednesday night at the Paul Weyrich Awards dinner that kicks off the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, updated her seminal book in 2014, offering her always-succinct reviews of the political conventions since 1968, and even some thoughts about 2016.
The kingmakers of old have given way to the Republican Establishment, she says, but “it’s the same thing: The “big money crowd” is trying to dictate who will be the nominee and control the Republican Party.
Still, the stakes for the next presidential election have “never been higher,” she adds.
“What [President] Obama has done to our country is hard to believe, it’s so bad. He has taken us into a different kind of country … he wants to bring us down to the level of all the other countries.”
“When I wrote the new [version of] ‘A Choice Not an Echo,’ basically I predicted Jeb [Bush] would be the candidate,” she says, referring to the son of the man the Establishment Republicans heavily backed over California Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1980.
“One of the funniest things to watch” recently was former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s effort to return as a 2016 candidate, she says. “That wasn’t in the [Establishment] plan at all,” she chuckles. “They had to get rid of him as they didn’t want their people divided.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has several “fatal liabilities,” she wrote in 2014, “such as the Bush name and his vehement support of the Common Core takeover of our schools.”
“If conservatives want to nominate a real conservative, they must get busy now.”
Now the “big factor of money” is making a huge difference in candidate selection, she tells The Times.
“I know that Jeb Bush is having a $100,000-a-plate dinner. That is so much money I can hardly understand it.”
Pick a favorite conservative subject — activist judges, religious freedom battles, military superiority and family breakdown — and Mrs. Schlafly has probably written a book about it.
Activist judges — like those in her 2006 book, “The Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop It” — have gotten even worse, she declares.
“These judges think they can do anything, and they are trying to make law and really run the country, and make all these important decisions,” she says. There are exceptions, like the “brave judge” who recently wrote the 120-page opinion blocking “Obama’s crooked amnesty” program for illegal immigrants, but “that’s out of line” with the “supremacists,” she adds.
In 2012 she covered the “very important” religious freedom issue in her book “No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom.”
That, in turn, dovetails into the white-hot social issue of gay rights, she says.
“I have said and thought from beginning that [the] first goal of the gay rights movement was not marriage — their first goal was to shut up everybody that disagreed with them, and accuse them of discrimination,” Mrs. Schlafly says.
Their two big arguments have been that they have been discriminated against, and there’s an inevitability to their claims, she says.
In fact, however, “there hasn’t been a large-scale movement of the people to [gay marriage],” Mrs. Schlafly says. Instead, in most states with gay marriage, the changes were “not adopted by the people, they were adopted by a supremacist judge.”
Mrs. Schlafly takes pride in her leadership in the 10-year battle to block state ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment passed by Congress in 1972, arguing it would allow women to be drafted into the military and give federal government “enormous new powers to reinterpret every law that makes a distinction based on gender, such as those related to marriage, divorce and alimony.”
But her other major legacy is “making the Republican Party pro-life.”
Republicans were pro-abortion under President Richard Nixon since, in the 1970s, people were worried that “we were running out of food on the earth” and needed population control, she said. Now the party is so pro-life, “you can hardly run for office as a Republican without at least saying you’re pro-life,” she boasts.
Mrs. Schlafly fought for pro-life positions in Republican Party platforms, beginning with the first convention after the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling legalizing abortion. Since 1984 the Republican platform has said that “the unborn child, as an individual, has a fundamental right to life.”
Noting that half of the millennial generation is pro-life, she says, “I’d like to think it [was due to] all our good work, but it’s the pictures, the ultrasounds.
“I didn’t see any ultrasound when I was having babies,” she says. But today, “even a 4th grader can tell that’s a baby.”
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