The Time Phyllis Schlafly Incited A Riot

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phyllis schlafly on chair

Phyllis Schlafly Was There to Kick Ass And Chew Bubblegum, And Phyllis Schlafly Was All Out of Bubblegum

It was spring of ’66 in Washington DC and the smell of Napalm was in Phyllis Schlafly’s hair. She’d just been robbed of her coveted Presidential coronet at the 14th biennial convention of the National Federation of Republican Women, whose board had pulled a procedural trick to avoid her automatic succession from “First Vice President” (she had been elected to this post at the previous convention in ’64) to National President, a succession that had been almost guaranteed (according to Phyllis) to all First Vice Presidents since the 1st biennial convention in 1940.

But nobody fucked with Phyllis Schlafly! Except for her husband, and that was just the “Christian tradition of chivalry,”  by the way, not rape.

Phyllis wanted to be, she had to be, the next president of the NFRW. After Barry Goldwater’s stunning loss, she had to purify the Republican Party at the grassroots level. In order to ensure that the GOP would nominate ultra-conservative candidates in ‘68, she would have to defeat those “Rockefeller Republicans,” defy those “New York Kingmakers” and control the direction of the NFRW so she could use its 500,000 members to do her bidding (along with all the ’68 campaign grunt work).

 
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But in a separate reality, meaning the world outside Phyllis’s feverish mind, nobody wanted her. Goldwater distanced himself from her during his presidential campaign; even after all she’d done to get him nominated in the first place. “She was, some of his advisers felt, just too conservative.” She’d already pissed off Nixon when she led a revolt of “moral conservatives” at the 1960 Republican convention against his (and Rockefeller’s) support of civil rights.

But the NFRW? Those women, especially the then president, Dorothy Elston (later appointed by Nixon as 33rd Treasurer of the United States) really didn’t want her. Elston and her board didn’t want Phyllis so bad that they put off the vote for president in ‘66 by changing the biennial conference from even years to odd. Which meant that the incumbent board members and Elston would stay on until the next conference voted again in ’67. Basically, they just put the fight off for a year, hoping Phyllis would just go away. (19670519-DailyCapitalNewsJeffersonCityMissouri-General-HowNFRWScrewedPhilys-1-3).

As those who are experts at avoiding conflict know, (me, PhD.), a pain in the ass like Phyllis Schlafly doesn’t go away. She just gets louder.

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About the author

Writer, teacher, traveler. Arizona girl living in Paris.

View all articles by Lisa Wines

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