By the early 1980s, a new political landscape was taking shape that would fundamentally influence American society and politics in the decades to come. That year, the long-standing effort to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment—championed by suffragist Alice Paul and introduced to Congress in 1923—ran aground, owing in significant measure to the activism of women who pioneered a new brand of conservatism. The power and organizational energies of conservative women provided one more proof that the suffragists’ notion of a universal women’s voting “bloc” was an illusion. But in the Reagan era, other organized political constituencies rose and matured, exerting significant pressure on elections.
This panel will draw together strands and stories that are often kept separate: the ideas and growing influence of conservative women, the political activism of gay communities, and the mobilization of Latinx constituencies in the ongoing struggle over who gets to vote, who draws the map, and whose vote counts.