Conservative Movement ‘Will Rise Again,’ Veteran Activist Pledges

By Pete Winn | November 4, 2008 | 6:22 PM EST

A 1980s meeting of President Ronald Reagan and Phyllis Schlafly at the White House. (Photo courtesy of the Eagle Forum Archives)

( - Phyllis Schlafly was around for the beginning of the modern conservative movement. Now, in the aftermath of yesterday’s sea change election, the president of Eagle Forum and veteran conservative activist says the movement needs to start over again – from the beginning.
“The conservative movement will rise again, just as it re-rose in 1964 and nominated a little-known senator named Barry Goldwater, and rose again with the nomination and election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and then, after (Bill) Clinton’s victory rose again and elected a big majority of Republican congressmen in 1994,” Schlafly told in an interview.
1994 was the year Newt Gingrich and others developed the Contract with America, which inspired the election of a class of conservative Republicans, who took control of Congress.
“The conservative movement knows how to rise from the ashes, and we need to pick up the pieces of the movement, which was so badly dismantled and put in disarray by the George W. Bush administration. But we can do it. And we’ve got to get started immediately,” she said.
Schlafly lays the blame for Tuesday’s defeat of the McCain-Palin ticket – and a decline in the fortunes of the conservative movement – at the feet of the Bush administration.
“The disarray of the conservative movement is the fault of George W. Bush and his advisor Karl Rove,” Schlafly said. “I guess it turned out that he was not a conservative after all. He was a big government, big spending, globalist, ‘New World Order’-type of Republican.
Among other things, the long-time conservative leader said, the financial bailout bordered on socialism.
“A lot of people stuck with him beyond the time that they should have, when it became apparent that he did not espouse real conservative principles,” Schlafly said.  
Schlafly rejected any suggestion that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin split either the GOP or the conservative movement.
“Sarah Palin is certainly a rising star – she was a breath of fresh air, and a lot of excitement to the conservative movement. I think she is a genuine conservative,” Schlafly added.
“I think that most of us are interested in rebuilding the conservative movement. She will have a role to play in that,” she said. “If we want to split off anybody (from the GOP) I would say that it is the multinationals who have given us this economic disaster, and who told us that globalism is the wave of the future. If you want to split them off, that’s OK with me.
“But I think we’re going to be looking for new leaders who express conservatism across the board – whether its sovereignty, limited spending, limited government, cuts in spending, cuts in taxes, the social issues – to simply reject these groups who are trying to muscle into the driver’s seat of the Republican Party, such as the multinationals with their ‘free-trade globalism’ agenda,” Schlafly added.
Does anybody come to mind?
“No,” she said, laughing, then adding, “We have about 30 very good members of Congress who are destined to become good leaders.”
Schlafly expressed confidence that the movement she had a hand in building will come back. But she’s no Pollyanna.
“Of course, I’m optimistic. I’m a Ronald Reagan optimist. But there’s a big job to do, and a lot of it is in the public schools, because so many people have been taught the wrong things about America and about politics and about what’s important in life and how things are done in the American constitutional system. I think we’re going to have to rebuild from the grassroots up,” she said.