In a 1969 speech, then-President Richard Nixon directly addressed the “silent majority” of Americans who he hoped would support his middle path policy on Vietnam. The speech itself, if you read it, is rather banal and unremarkable, but the turn of phrase came to be a powerful icon of the politics of the era. At a time when American society seemed in many ways to be pulling apart, Nixon argued for stability.
And with that phrase, he offered recognition to the large number of Americans who were neither Black Panthers nor Klansmen, neither war hawks nor hippies, just basically normal middle-class white people who rejected Jim Crow without embracing Black Power, disliked the war but disliked communism even more.
Nixon’s presidency itself descended into oblivion, but his silent majority of hard hats and conformists carried forward, dominating American politics for the rest of the 20th century. Under George W. Bush, Republican rhetoric took a different turn — more overtly pious and messianic — but in the wake of Bushism’s self-discrediting collapse, Nixonian themes have strongly reemerged under the leadership of Donald Trump.
Trump-branded signs intoning the slogan “THE SILENT MAJORITY STANDS WITH TRUMP” festoon his rallies, and optimistic writers invoke the notion of a silent majority to tout theories that the polls are undercounting Trump voters.
Nor, crucially, are the Trumpniks a majority. Polls give every indication that Hillary Clinton is going to beat Trump, just as she beat Bernie Sanders — who also drew larger rally crowds and more think pieces than she did — in the Democratic primary. Clinton crowds aren’t as big, and her voters aren’t as loud or as interesting to the media. But there sure are a lot of them. And it’s about time we acknowledge them and their emergence as a new silent majority that reelected America’s first black president and is poised to elect its first woman.
Continue reading at: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/19/13288594/new-silent-majority