Every day, year after year, Phyllis Schlafly leads her Eagle Forum and, by extension, “the conservative movement.” Trusted for her judgment and instincts, Phyllis is a go-to leader for conservatives in and out of public life. Already this year, she is playing a key role in the 2016 presidential election with her updated book A Choice Not An Echo which describes how the fight is yet again between the “kingmakers” and the conservative grassroots.
On the national scene since 1952 (fighting for Taft over Eisenhower!) and a prominent founder of the conservative movement since 1964 (Goldwater), Phyllis has been in the middle of nearly every American policy conversation: from education to defense to the economy and especially the family and our values (ERA). Her many books and thousands of speeches appear the work of a work-a-holic conservative, but they are just a small part of Phyllis Schlafly’s work. Consider this output:
• the Phyllis Schlafly Report mailed to tens of thousands each month (sometimes twice a month) since 1967;
• a weekly nationally syndicated newspaper column since 1976;
• a three minute radio commentary every weekday since 1983;
• a weekly one-hour, live, call-in radio show for the past 25 years;
• hundreds of radio interviews each year..
• dozens of TV interviews each year.
• attendance at every Republican convention since 1952 (that’s sixteen in a row!);
• 26 books including the original A Choice Not An Echo (over 3 million copies!)
• her organization has over 120 state leaders heading Eagle Forum chapter at the state and local level with a D.C. office since Reagan’s inauguration.
Phyllis founded a pro-life group that drafted, passed and now defends the pro-life Republican Party plank (RNC for Life). She has supported hundreds of candidate for office at every level. She has written dozens of pamphlets, reports and thousands of letters. She ran for Congress twice, ran for national president of the Federation of Republican Women. And she works the phones daily to update and support her Eagle Forum state leaders (over 120 strong). Phyllis even completed law school and was admitted to the Bar during the ERA fight. First among all this, she raised six children and with her late husband Fred.
So, what accounts for her extraordinary output? Yes, Phyllis learned how to work hard during a Depression-era upbringing. A close examination of her work and her decisions reveals remarkable consistency and a method with a few ever-present features.
First, Phyllis never fails to show her sense of humor and smile. People are attracted by humor and joy - and it infuriates the lefties when you are not miserable like they are!
Second, Phyllis relies on carefully framed arguments. She once told me that she never engages except on the terms she decides are best. This takes careful though, painstaking planning, and great judgement.
Third, Phyllis demands of herself, her allies, and even her opponents an abundance of facts. Pick up a PS Report and you will see it crammed with facts. Asked about the density of her writing, she smiled broadly and said “More facts per word than any writer - that’s my goal in writing. You win them over with facts.”
Finally, Phyllis loves the fight and she also loves her opponents (although they may not feel this when she bests them!) She refuses to engage in name-calling or even to question motives. “This is not personal, not ever,” Phyllis told me recently. “It’s always about the argument and the facts - if you give them all the facts, over and over again, you’ll win the argument.”
Phyllis’ own definition of leadership is below.. This is wisdom she has shared with her Eagle Forum leaders and which, suffice to say, simply the Phyllis Schlafly way.
• Ed Martin is the President of Eagle Forum and immediate past Chairman of the Missouri Republican Party. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri with his wife Carol, a geriatrics physician, and their four children.
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