By Seth Johnson
Phyllis Schlafly’s self-published classic “A Choice, Not an Echo” rocked Washington when it was released in 1964.
Now it’s back.
A week after Election Day, an updated 50th anniversary commemorative edition will be available, just as America considers the implications of the 2014 election and begins to see the battle lines developing for the 2016 presidential race.
The book first came out in 1964 in an effort to boost “Mr. Conservative,” Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater, over his rivals. It offered conservatives a chance to look behind the political process and see the inside story “of how American presidents are chosen.”
“The book is full of knowledge from the inside, since I’ve been to every Republican convention since 1952,” Schlafly said in an interview. “It’s a sort of whodunit story about the fight that conservatives had to wage against the establishment, even back then. You can’t be a player in 2016 if you haven’t read ‘A Choice, Not an Echo.'”
Just as the 1964 GOP convention was a fight for the heart and soul of the GOP, so Schlafly believes getting it right in 2016 is not just critical for the party but even more so for the nation.
“You have to know the inner machinations of party politics and what goes on behind the scenes at the top. In 1964, we had a bunch of ‘Me Too Republicans’ who were fine with liberal policy advancing so long as they had a seat at the table. These people obsessed over the ‘bipartisan center,’ when they should have been campaigning in favor of following the Constitution.”
Schlafly recently released a new book she describes as a straightforward account of the groups and societal forces that are undermining the cornerstone of the American experiment, titled “Who Killed the American Family?” While it may seem like a completely different book than “A Choice, Not an Echo,” Schlafly believes the policy that flows from elected officials has contributed to the weakening of the family.
“We must realize the connection between family and fiscal issues. Broken families will inevitably look to the government to bail them out. We’ve spent more on LBJ’s ‘War on Poverty’ than on every war that U.S. has fought in combined. You need to read ‘Choice’ to understand politics, and you need to read my newest book to understand what’s at stake for your family.”
Schlafly professes to still have the sunny optimism of Reagan when it comes to America’s future, but she does not doubt how difficult it will be to shift political and popular culture.
“We have to work in the two party system, and Republicans must win the Senate this year in order to fight the president’s agenda. We cannot allow another Supreme Court nominee from this president, or he will control the agenda for the next 30 years.”
For activists who are pessimistic and can’t see past the array of forces standing in conservatives’ way, Schlafly reminds them that good things come to those who wait, as long as they put in work in the meantime.
“We did lose in 1964, but we got our reward in 1980.”
Other present-day conservative leaders recognize Schlafly’s immense contributions to the conservative movement over the years. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., praised Schlafly for refusing to bow to feminists and other liberals.
“Phyllis is the epitome of how to stand up to feminists and how to stand up to leftist ideology,” Bachmann said. “Phyllis was willing to be everything feminists wished they were, decades before feminists figured out they needed to be independent women in their own right. Phyllis was already there.”
Conservative fundraiser Richard Viguerie, author of “Takeover,” credited Schlafly with leading the movement through a particularly rough patch.
“There was a period of time,” said Viguerie, “after the Goldwater loss, through the second half of the ’60s, through most of the ’70s, when we didn’t have the leadership that we’ve got now, and Phyllis was Horatio at the bridge. She was an army of one, almost, and she was our general and our leader that was out there showing us that we could go head-to-head, toe-to-toe with the establishment and beat them.”
Bachmann took it a step further, saying Schlafly was the most consequential woman in American public policy during the second half of the 20th century. The congresswoman believes Schlafly started a chain of events that helped the U.S. defeat the Soviet Union in the Cold War.
“Had there not been a Phyllis Schlafly, I believe we wouldn’t have seen a rise of the pro-family movement,” Bachmann said. “Had there not been a rise of the pro-family movement, I don’t believe there would have been a Ronald Reagan. Without a President Ronald Reagan, I don’t think we would have seen the ability to defeat the evil – and yes, that’s what it was – Soviet empire, and to bring a conclusion to the Cold War.”
See Bachmann’s comments: