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.
But though Trumpniks are certainly the demographic descendants of Nixon’s white working-class silent majority, the basic reality is that they are anything but silent. Trump’s rallies are, as Trump would be the first to tell you, enormous, raucous affairs. He brings in big ratings. He attracts constant coverage, and so do his supporters, in the form of endlessly writerly explorations of the agonizing anxieties of “Trump Country” communities afflicted by everything from deindustrialization to opiate addiction to an influx of immigrants from the Dominican Republic.
Continue reading at: http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2016/10/19/13288594/new-silent-majority