Eagle Forum: Blog: Phyllis Schlafly: A Choice Not An Echo Revisited
If you want to know why Tea Party Republicans, the non-Conservative Libertarians in that movement, have a tendency to sound like Ron Paul Libertarians on economic and fiscal policy and even to a certain extent of foreign policy as well, but sound like Rick Santorum and other leaders on the Religious-Right on social issues, Phyllis Schlafly and her book A Choice Not An Echo is a big part of that. This movement that became huge in the GOP by the late 1970s combined economic conservatism with religious conservatism as it came to social issues.
I think to understand Phyllis Schlafly and her let’s say Traditional Values Coalition, you have to first understand the Republican Party of the 1950s up until lets say 1963 or so. Back then there were such things as Progressive Republicans. The Nelson Rockefeller’s and Dwight Eisenhower’s of the GOP. Not progressive in today’s sense of always trying to expand the size of government and creating new government services for people. But that “government if limited can play a constructive role in society, even in the economy, just as long as individual freedom wasn’t subtracted as a result”.
The Democratic Party and the FDR New Deal Progressives ran the U.S. Government all by themselves with a little opposition from Southern right-wing Democrats from 1933 to 1947 when Republicans finally won back both chambers of Congress. Which they lost again in 1948 as Harry Truman was elected President. Dwight Eisenhower and his more progressive wing and again progressive in the classical sense, figured out how to counter Progressive Democrats and for Republicans to govern again.
The Eisenhower Progressives message was not to be another social democratic party just like the Democrats at the time. Or be the anti-government, isolationist more conservative libertarian GOP of the 1940s. But find a governing middle and say yes, “we believe that America should have a safety net for people who truly need it. But we don’t want a government so big that individual freedom and initiative is subtracted. And that people who can physically and mentally work, should work and that government can help people, but shouldn’t try to take care of them”.
That was the point of the Phyllis Schlafly book A Choice Not An Echo. They saw the Eisenhower/Rockefeller wing of the GOP as Democratic or Progressive light and that might be putting it nicely. That the Republican Party needed to move in a direction that was completely the opposite of where the Democratic Leadership was back in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s. And give Americans a real choice as they saw it in who to vote for. I believe the Phyllis Schlafly movement that eventually produced the Religious-Right and today’s Neoconservatives was the Tea Party of the 20th Century.
Phyllis Schlafly created a movement that went against the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Eisenhower/Rockerfeller Progressive Republicanism of the 1950s, the Great Society of the 1960s, the women’s movement, gay libertarian, counter-culture, culture revolution, the civil rights movement even. And wanted to take America back to where it was pre-Great Depression even. And take America back to what they would call Traditional America and live under their traditional values.