Classics of Conservatism - Part XXII - Phyllis Schlafly - A Choice Not an Echo
Previous classics of conservatism.
One disadvantage from which conservatives have suffered for many years has been the need to re-learn recent history over and over again. This problem exists because young conservatives have no way of learning about the past due to the liberal bias of modern education. Modern schools teach that conservatism has no history or core philosophy other than a legacy of racism, oppression and war. Students have no idea that there is a philosophical basis and historical context for such ideas as free markets, lower taxes, national sovereignty, etc.
Students and recent graduates, if they are interested in politics at all, will tend to think only in terms of the headline-of-the-moment instead of the broader context into which an election fits. Younger voters think they are discussing "the issues" if they debate how much government interference in health care is best, how to address "global warming," or what to do about high gas prices.
At the same time, younger conservatives who cannot remember the 70's, 80's or 90's are susceptible to many ideas that would be contradicted by a little memory of recent history. One such idea is that "moderate" Republicans are somehow more electable than conservative Republicans. We are supposed to believe that "independents" will spring out of the woodwork to support a moderate Republican instead of the Democrats' liberal nominee. And this is where we must reinvent the wheel. If new conservatives could remember Gerald Ford, Bob Dole, George Bush I, Ronald Reagan, etc., they would not fall prey to this kind of propaganda. Prior to the new media, there was no way for conservatives to educate each other or pass on the lessons of the recent past. We had to rely on a conservative newspaper columnist whose column appeared once a week or an old book or some other rare source of conservatism to provide an irregular trickle of information that wasn't filtered through the MSM/DNC.
Today, we can transmit facts, history and perspective much more quickly through the new media, especially if such facts include some of the old material that the MSM/DNC used to be able to suppress.
One such treasure trove of facts is found in Phyllis Schlafly's 1964 paperback, "A Choice Not an Echo." In Choice, Schlafly breaks down each Republican primary battle from 1936 through 1960 and shows how establishment Republicans (those with ties to the publishing and banking world) had undermined the choice of the rank-and-file Republicans with false charges (spread through an obliging MSM) of "extremism" and "unelectability."
Among my favorite chapters is Chapter 6, in which she discusses polls - "Pollsters and Hoaxsters" (1944):
The New York Kingmakers realized they could not capture the 1944 Republican nomination either with Wilkie or with the same type of last-minute blitz they had used in 1940. This time they went into action earlier. They discovered and developed a new political weapon: the Gallup Poll. Dr. George Gallup began asking a lot of questions of a very few people, and - funny thing - he usually came up with answers that pleased the New York kingmakers.p. 45
The Gallup Poll has been used repeatedly as a subtle propaganda machine to sell the Republicans on the false propositions that the GOP cannot win unless it (1) continues the New Deal foreign policy (Soviet appeasement - Salt) and (2) names candidates who will appeal to the left-leaning Democrats and liberals.
A Choice Not an Echo sold millions of copies and was instrumental in wresting control of the GOP back to the grassroots. Even though Barry Goldwater lost by a wide margin that year, the Goldwater coalition was born that year that eventually swept Ronald Reagan into office. As a result of the grassroots organizing efforts and the distribution of various short books such as Choice in 1964, a movement was born. Richard Nixon, despite his faults, was elected in the next two elections by the same coalition. Niether Nixon nor Reagan won by appealing to moderates. [Nixon didn't sell out conservatives until after he was elected.]
Schlafly identifies the people she refers to as "kingmakers." They have a lot in common with the Republican "moderate" kingmakers of today.
In 2002, Ann Coulter wrote about Phyllis Schlafly and Choice:
About the time a young Hillary Rodham was serving as inspiration for the perfect little girl in the Hollywood thriller "The Bad Seed," Schlafly was remaking the Republican Party.
In 1964, Schlafly wrote "A Choice, Not An Echo," widely credited with winning Barry Goldwater the Republican nomination for president. The book sold an astounding 3 million copies. (The average nonfiction book sells 5,000 copies.) Goldwater lost badly in the general election, but the Republican Party would never be the same.
Goldwater's nomination began the retreat of sellout, Northeastern Rockefeller Republicans who hoped to wreck the country with slightly less alacrity than the Democrats. Without Schlafly, without that book, it is very possible that Ronald Reagan would never have been elected president.
For the record, I read my copy of A Choice Not an Echo years before I had heard of Ann Coulter, but many years after the book was published. Original editions of the book were still floating around in the 1980's just as they are today. I promote the book now because it is an election year and Republicans face a choice regarding who to nominate. The cries of "electability" ring throughout the land, as we are told to support John McCain by the MSM/DNC.
Moderates bring the GOP to defeat. The Independents or "undecided" voters are nothing but liberals who are too embarrassed by the Clintons, Jimmy Carter, Al Gore et al. to call themselves Democrats. Such voters did not abandon the Democrats to elect Gerald Ford or Bob Dole and they will not help John McCain in 2008. Instead, they will give us Barack Obama, especially if we provide nothing more than an echo.
update - January 30, 2007 - See Michelle Malkin today for a preview of how this fall's election will turn out like so many of those discussed in A Choice Not An Echo.