When news of Phyllis Schlafly’s death reached social media on Monday, liberals reacted with predictable, sickening delight.
Ever eager to practice the “tolerance” they preach, lefties high-fived each other: “So glad her illness was long,” one tweeted.
These haters mostly betray their own ignorance, which begins where Wikipedia ends. The truth is that the left owes Schlafly a great political debt.
Schlafly’s great polemic, A Choice Not an Echo, was published in 1964, and boosted the doomed Goldwater campaign, which was later vindicated by Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980. But her message was, in its essence, nonpartisan: politics should be about clear choices between ideological alternatives, not a mushy, muddled menu of mediocrity.
The same spirit infused the left’s ill-fated insurgency of 1968, and still flickered thereafter among academics and activists, eventually fueling Barack Obama’s 2008 victory.
If not for its conservative provenance, “A choice not an echo” would have been a better slogan for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in 2016 than “A future we can believe in,” which imitated (echoed?) Obama. Despite enduring philosophical differences, the grass-roots left and right have reached agreement on one key point: namely, that the party establishments, on both sides, exist to keep each other well-fed and satisfied, not to serve the general interest.
And Schlafly was among the first to point that out. Without Schlafly, the conservative movement would never have grown to the fighting force it has — nor would the New Left have emerged the way it did, or the “netroots,” or Sanders’s faltering but idealistic “political revolution.”
More than a reaction against the conservatism Schlafly inspired, these movements were efforts — occasionally successful — to dislodge the Democratic Party’s power brokers. And they followed the form of Schlafly’s arguments, if not the substance of her ideas.
She wanted to shake things up — and saw in Donald Trump another chance to do so. Meanwhile, the left is stuck with Hillary Clinton — the consummate, corrupt insider.
Beyond the jeers at Schlafly’s death, wiser liberals can barely hide their envy at what she, at 92, still managed to achieve.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, is available from Regnery through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.