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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
 
The Return of the ERA

Yep, as we remarked endlessly during the 2004 campaign, the Democrats seem stuck in the past, wanting to recreate that magic moment in the early 1970s when it seemed like the far left was taking over the party.

Just before they got crushed in the 1972 election. It may be somewhat forgotten, but the Democrats at that point had been running the country with only minor interruptions. Oh, sure, they had lost the presidency in 1968, but it was a tumultuous year and a very close election, and they still controlled the House and Senate by sizeable majorities. So they went out on a limb and nominated George McGovern, and suffered one of the worst defeats in American history.

But one of the problems liberals have is that they refuse to learn from the lessons of the past, and hence they seem to be steaming full speed ahead into the same shoals that wrecked them 35 years ago.

The return of the ERA (renamed WEA, for Women's Equality Amendment) is just a symptom of this trend.

The ERA, originally introduced in Congress in 1923, gained popularity in the mid-1960s. In March 1972, it cleared the first of two hurdles: passing both chambers of Congress by the required two-thirds vote.

Thirty state legislatures ratified it the next year. Congress extended by three years its seven-year deadline for ratification, but the decade passed without approval by the required 38 states. ERA backers have since introduced the resolution in every Congress, but only now do they believe they have a realistic chance of success.


It is an open question as to whether the states that ratified it still count for the amendment, made murkier by the fact that several states later rescinded their ratification. It's probably going nowhere, but it will give Hillary Clinton a chance to push for something during her 2008 run that may buffer her support among single women. It will also give Phyllis Schlafly a chance to reprise her role from the 1970s as the chief opponent.

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