Last night, Rachel Maddow reminded us of how Phyllis Schlafly helped transform the GOP into the far-right party that it is today, dating back to her efforts to help Barry Goldwater win the 1964 Republican nomination.
The GOP found Goldwater’s ultraconservativism much more acceptable than Nelson Rockefeller’s divorce and remarriage, even though Goldwater’s views set him up for a landslide loss in November. Now, Schlafly is getting behind Donald Trump, a reality TV star notorious for his divorces and extramarital affairs.
Schlafly called her pro-Goldwater treatise, “A Choice Not An Echo,” which Maddow described as “a clarion call-to-arms from the social conservative wing of the Republican Party.” She now hails Trump as “the candidate who will give us ‘a choice not an echo.’”
Maddow noted that Schlafly’s group, Eagle Forum, “played a central role in defining social conservatism —anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-abortion politics — and putting them right at the heart of the Republican Party and its platform,” including at the 1992 Republican National Convention. That convention became notorious for the social conservative red meat thrown by the likes of Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan, who used the platform to deliver his polarizing “Culture War” speech.
Ever since, Maddow explained, Schlafly has successfully push backed against “moderating influences to make sure the Republican Party never gets any less conservative on issues like homosexuality, abortion and feminism.”
But Schlafly may now be a victim of her own success.
After Schlafly succeeded in her effort to install right-wing purity tests and ideological rigidness within the conservative movement, Eagle Forum leaders who have supported Ted Cruz are reportedly rebelling over her support for Trump, who they say isn’t conservative enough.
“Phyllis Schlafly and her organization have been at the heart of the conservative movement inside the Republican Party for over 40 years and something is happening now to blow it up,” Maddow said. “Right now, finally, with Phyllis Schlafly at age 91, after everything she’s been through, it appears to be finally blowing up because of Donald Trump.”