But regardless of how the President’s words were received at the time, there’s no disputing that Nixon’s efforts to reach out to the “silent majority” in a time of cultural chaos changed the electoral dynamics in America. And three years after uttering those words for the first time and introducing the “silent majority” theme (combined with another three years of war protests and social upheaval), Nixon won the hearts and minds of a majority of both Republicans and Democrats with a forty-nine-state Electoral College landslide in his 1972 re-election bid.
Since that time, Americans have demonstrated repeatedly that they want their President to respect and affirm the nation’s cultural and moral structures, and to enhance American strength. When the White House shows signs of weakness, or appears as though it is undermining the country, such instances become politically fatal flaws.
Jimmy Carter created a one-term presidency for himself by giving away the Panama Canal (he argued that it rightfully belonged to Panamanians - a very neighborly and “internationalist” way of thinking – yet Americans built it and felt a sense of ownership about it), and by not proactively handling the disgraceful Iranian hostage crisis. George H.W. Bush reneged on his “no new taxes” promise. And Bill Clinton ran afoul in his first two years, with a bumbling foreign policy and a secretive attempt to take-over the healthcare industry.
And now it’s 2010. Those who doubt the goodness of America are not parading and burning draft cards in the streets, as they were in the days of President Nixon, but rather, they’re in the White House and the Congress. And with the unfolding of a bumbling foreign policy that makes U.S. citizens subordinate to the perceived “global good”, and a secretive healthcare take-over having been forced through the Congress via specious parliamentary procedures, that sinking feeling of chaos and upheaval - that feeling that “something’s not right in America” - has returned with a vengeance.
Speaking about the not-so silent “tea party” activists on the Fox Newschannel last Thursday, Karl Rove observed that “these are people who heretofore have largely been spectators, not participants…these are not activists.” Rove further noted that “they’ve been sitting on the sidelines,” but now they are “motivated over the last fourteen months by what they see happening in Washington.”
Just as Nixon awakened Americans, so has President Obama. But while Nixon became the antithesis of cultural chaos and internal turmoil, President Obama and his party are the source of it.
May those who love America remain awake – and not-so-silent.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.
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