Phyllis Schlafly, R.I.P.

Published September 6, 2016

This morning brings the sad news of the passing of Phyllis Schlafly, founder of Eagle Forum, at the age of 92.

Phyllis Schlafly was an icon of the conservative movement. Along with Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, and Margaret Thatcher, she turned conservativism from a inchoate social and philosophical movement into a political movement with millions of followers and real political consequences. That she did this before the Internet era and social media, from a base (in St. Louis) far from Washington DC’s Beltway, and at a time when women were hardly welcome in the leadership of major organizations, makes her accomplishments all the more remarkable.

Obituaries reveal a scholar and writer as well as activist and skillful manager, a rare combination of skills that marks true leaders and world-changers. There are many activists who are not managers, as the Tea Party movement demonstrated. And Washington DC and the GOP are full of managers who are not activists. Lacking any one of these four traits would have made her less effective or perhaps caused her to march at times in the wrong direction. But Phyllis was the “complete package,” the leader par excellence.

Phyllis was active until just days before she passed. She sent very kind remarks which were read at a memorial ceremony held in August for her long-time friend Elizabeth Clarke, who passed away in July. A week ago she issued a news release and video to allies and friends commenting on her intellectual property rights in the Eagle Forum’s logo and symbols. She coauthored a book being released this week, The Conservative Case for Donald Trump, that may just decide a close election in November with tremendous consequences for everyone.

We owe so much to Phyllis Schlafly. Her progeny includes the “six children, 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren” reported in various obituaries, but also thousands and even millions of conservative and libertarian activists spanning four generations, in the U.S. but also world-wide. She will be missed.