Divided We Stand: The Battle over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics

Lecture Description

Although her book Divided We Stand: The Battle over Women’s Rights focuses on the 1970s (and more specifically the effects of the 1977 IWY conferences including the National Women’s Conference), a connection to Trump is clear. It actually serves as “deep background” for the most polarized presidential election in American history which saw the conservative coalition that developed in the late 1970s once again emerge victorious. As it selected Reagan as its nominee in 1980, the GOP also chose to take sides with the pro-family movement, the conservative women’s movement that emerged in the 1970s in opposition to feminism, and to abandon its support for the women’s rights movement. Since 1980, as the Democratic Party became even more firmly identified with the women’s movement, minority rights, and LGBT rights, the Republican Party became even more identified with the pro-family movement – which had given rise to the Christian Right — and dependent on these inter-related movements. Effort by Republican feminists to get their party to return to previous support for women’s rights including reproductive freedom failed, as Phyllis Schlafly and her allies in the New Right became even more powerful. The book contains an epilogue covering 1980 through the 2016 election which shows the importance of women and women’s issues as American political culture became even more deeply polarized and bitterly partisan, as issues laden with religious and moral significance reached the forefront of political debates and moderation and compromise were devalued.

Among other things Spruill argues: though pundits emphasize male support for him, Trump largely owes his nomination to Schlafly who was an early and avid endorser (causing a coup among Eagle Forum board members who wanted Cruz) and his election to Kelly Anne Conway who was able to control him near the end to the extent that more Republicans including Republican women could support him.


Elections, Electoral College, Voting Rights Women

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