Fifty-two years ago I first became acquainted with the works of Phyllis Schlafley. I read her slender volume, A Choice Not an Echo, her concise treatise on why the Republican Party needed to stand for something. Her message then stuck with me and her wisdom is still as relevant today as it was in 1964.
Through the years I often referred back to her advice. She was the Grande Dame of conservative thought and she probed deeply every issue – from our broken education system to gay marriage to women in combat. She was a fierce opponent of a Constitutional Convention or “convention of the states”, which she viewed, and quite rightly, as a great threat to America and its future. Her insight was bolstered by research and her opinions backed by experts whose input she sought. I have a copy of a letter she posted from Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger, wherein he reinforces her argument against such a dangerous convention of states.
With the coming of the internet, Schlafley used its range to continue to offer her message of conservative values through her well-organized “Eagle Forum” website. The breadth and scope of her attention was equaled by the depth of her thought and understanding of issues of immediate relevancy to us today – from the “climate change” discussion to Common Core to our national sovereignty vs. globalism. She has had an amazing capacity to plumb these and many other topics vital to us today, while her concerns which first brought my attention, namely the need for a strong, two-party system and a real choice, not an echo, have added immeasurably to our national conversation and informed all of us who have the ears to hear her pertinent and significant warnings and debate.
Recently, Schlafley was at the heart of the seismic revolt that has shaken the Republican Party, when she endorsed Donald Trump, rather than the man most accurately viewed as the most credible conservative since Reagan – Ted Cruz. Many of us were both shocked and deeply disappointed. It was difficult to accept that someone whose most profound message was the need for genuine conservative thought could have made such an aberrant decision. However, Ms Schlafley’s contribution has been so overwhelming, unmatched by all but perhaps the work of fellow conservative William F. Buckley, Jr., that it is fervently to be hoped that she and her intelligence and keen perception will continue to be a font for those of us who must now regenerate and reignite the conservative flame. We should set aside the controversy of her last season and focus instead upon her unquestionable and unparalleled contribution to modern American thought and discussion for more than half a century.
Phyllis Schlafley, a truly great American, has died at 92. Regardless of how we feel about this year’s election, America has lost a bright light in the fight for our Constitution and our liberty. We will not see her like again. We owe her a debt we can never repay; we can only hope to pass along her knowledge and understanding.