I remember back in the mid-1970s, when I was still to the left of George McGovern (look him up, kids), turning on the news to learn there was actually another side to the Equal Rights Amendment campaign.
There was a lovely lady of passion making a forceful argument that admittedly made rational sense. She didn't convince me right away. But I found myself in respectful admiration of her point of view.
Flash forward to the 1980s: Phyllis Schlafly had actually accomplished the miraculous in defeating the ERA juggernaut. And there she was on television defending articulately and coherently Ronald Reagan's plan for a Strategic Defense Initiative, known to most of my colleagues in the media as "Star Wars."
Those were my first memorable reference points for Phyllis Schlafly, who later became a good friend and colleague in the fight for liberty, self-government and a constitutional republic.
Today, this amazing national resource and treasure, this heroine of faith, freedom and family, turns 90 years old – and she's still going strong.
So strong, in fact, she's about to come out with a new book called "Who Killed the American Family?" I'm also told her conservative classic, "A Choice Not an Echo," is being republished and re-released with a new foreword by Ron Paul.
I can't even tell you how important Phyllis Schlafly was in helping me figure out what's really happening in the world and in our country.
I grew up in a liberal, Democratic working-class home in which there were certain assumptions:
- The government is there to help you;
- Liberalism is next to godliness – maybe higher, probably higher;
- Conservatives are like Nazis;
- There hasn't been a good Republican since Abraham Lincoln.
I knew there must be something wrong with these assumptions, so I chose to move radically further to the left in search for liberty.
I found neither liberty there nor happiness. The left was intellectually bankrupt. It was corrupt. It was totalitarian. It was deadly. I learned that on my own – hanging around, as I did, with some of the most radical con artists and charlatans in the U.S., many of whom you would know by name.
It was not until Reagan came along in 1980 that I even contemplated the possibility that most liberalism and far-left radicalism were both political dead ends.
I can count on a hand or two some of the conservatives who helped me understand – Reagan himself, Whittaker Chambers, Armando Valladares, John Stormer, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, William Murray, Reed Irvine, William F. Buckley, Pat Buchanan, Margaret Thatcher and, without a doubt, Phyllis Schlafly.
You can't even convince me she's 90 years old.
She's as attentive to what's going on as anyone I know.
Her intellectual vision and capacity is as sharp as it was in the days when she single-handedly led the fight against the ERA.
Even physically she is in remarkably good shape – still traveling, organizing conferences and running her Eagle Forum organization.
Phyllis continues to be an inspiration for me. It's an honor to be able to publish her books. She is a sage counselor I have seldom if ever found to be wrong about anything important in the world of politics.
Toward the end of Reagan's presidency, I saw Phyllis as the natural person to succeed him. If she had, the nation and the world would be a lot better off. I always thought of Phyllis as our Maggie Thatcher. There's not much room for compromising in Phyllis' world – and that's what I love about her.
Happy birthday, Phyllis! And many more.
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