Thirty years ago, Phyllis Schlafly was a household name. The Alton political activist, nicknamed “Sweetheart of the Silent Majority” by biographer Carol Felsenthal, did more than anyone else in America to stop the Equal Rights Amendment, which looked like a sure thing when it was introduced in 1972.
In the early 1980s, Schlafly was House Speaker George Ryan’s sidekick in preventing Illinois from ratifying the ERA – making us the only Northern industrial state to turn it down.
Her biggest battle won, Schlafly faded from public consciousness, but she never shut down her conservative advocacy group, the Eagle Forum, or stopped publishing its newsletter. If anything, Schlafly is more conservative than ever – although she’s still living in the ’80s.
Lately, she’s been urging the Republican Party to stick with the all-white coalition that elected Ronald Reagan. Why? Because minorities are incapable of conservatism. Asked by a California radio host whether Republicans should be seeking the Latino vote, Schlafly dismissed that group as incapable of adopting Anglo-Saxon principles of government:
I don’t think they have Republican inclinations at all. They have an illegitimacy rate that’s just about the same as the blacks are, and the plain fact is, they come from a country where they have no experience with limited government and the types of rights we have in the Bill of Rights. They don’t understand that at all. You can’t even talk to them about what the Republican principle is.
The good news for Republicans? Schlafly is 88 years old. The bad news? She thinks like a woman twice her age.