A silent majority is a large amount of people who, as the term implies, constitute a majority or large amount of the population on a certain issue or issues, but have not openly expressed their opinions. This causes the opposing side to appear numerically larger, but the silent majority can often be seen on election days.
In United States history, the term has been closely associated with the Nixon Administration. Nixon was a middle-of-the-road politician who reached out to China as a counterbalance to the Soviet Union and established the Environmental Protection Agency. He positioned himself to the left of principled conservatives such as Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. The "silent majority" sought to appeal to working-class voters, particularly those in the south who were upset by the Civil Rights legislation adopted in the 1960s under Lyndon Johnson.
The silent majority has usually consisted of law-abiding conservatives, fed up or unpersuaded by the vocal left-wing minority. Rather than holding major protests, oftentimes disruptive or violent in the case of the left-wingers, they let their views be known through the ballot box.
Origin of the term
The term "silent majority" first originated under Republican U.S. president Richard Nixon. Although it was Nixon who first used the phrase, it was his speechwriter, Pat Buchanan, who actually created it.
Nixon, who was elected president in 1968, promised an end to the Vietnam War. After he assumed office, Nixon decided against a quick withdrawal, as it would severely damage international trust and confidence in American leadership. However, liberal antiwar activists, who wanted a quick withdrawal regardless of its effects, were very unhappy and vocal in their unhappiness, staging at least one major protest in Washington D.C.
On November 3, 1969, Nixon gave a major speech to call for national unity and explain his plan for Vietnamization—to reduce U.S. troop presence in the country until either true peace could be achieved or until the South Vietnamese could defend themselves. At the end of his speech, Nixon called on the "great silent majority" to support his plan.
While the New Left, antiwar protestors, and hippies vocally expressed their leftist views, a silent majority of Americans who had not given in to their agenda. In fact, a Gallup poll released soon after Nixon's November 1969 speech showed 77 percent of Americans in favor of Nixon's policy, despite the antiwar protests.
The existence of the silent majority was further seen in the 1972 presidential election. Democrats nominated George McGovern, likely the most left-wing nominee in history at that point. Large numbers of Democrats abandoned the party and its nominee who was not in line with their traditional conservative values and voted for Nixon. Nixon was successfully able to point out McGovern's extreme views, and he won the election in one of the largest landslides in United States history. Even traditionally Democrat states, such as West Virginia, New York, and Texas, voted for Nixon (he won 49 states). As of 2016, the 1972 presidential election was the 4th largest landslide election in terms of the popular vote, and even larger than the 1964 presidential election.
Other potential examples of the silent majority in U.S. history
Black silent majority
During the 1960s and 70s, a silent majority existed in the black community that opposed the undue sympathy of the liberal elites towards criminals and drug dealers. Rather than condemning "police brutality", blaming crime and drug use on racism, or supporting the welfare state as a solution, they supported tougher crime laws. Some even supported capital punishment for these crimes.
Another example of the silent majority is seen in Ronald Reagan's presidential election campaigns. Despite claims that he was too conservative to be elected president, Reagan easily defeated Democrat Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election. The American public was fed up with Carter's weak foreign policy; calls for energy conservation; liberal, big government economic policies; as well as the poor economic state of the nation; and even many Democrats voted for Reagan. In 1984, Democrats nominated liberal Walter Mondale, who even stated outright that he would raise taxes as president, who Americans rejected in a landslide—a repudiation of liberal policies.
Trump's silent majority
Donald Trump frequently mentioned the silent majority in speeches during the 2016 presidential election. While polling predicted Hillary Clinton would win easily, Trump performed significantly better than polling suggested. Trump voters were underrepresented in polling samples, and it is possible that, because it is social taboo in mainstream society to support Trump, many voters did not state their real voting intentions to pollsters, even though that idea was rejected by some.
Throughout the campaign and after the election, anti-Trump critics were extremely vocal about their views, while Trump supporters acted more discreet. Anti-Trump demonstrators caused massive disruption, stopping at least one Trump rally in Chicago, and after the election, they continued in their protests and violence. While Clinton narrowly won the nationwide popular vote (by about 2%), Trump won a large majority of the states (30.5, including Maine's second district; 61%). In addition, Trump won 2,623 counties—the largest number for both a Republican or Democrat presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1984—while the Democrats won only 489. Trump accordingly won 85 percent of the nation by land area.
In the early days of Trump's presidency, polls generally showed low approval ratings. However, there is much evidence that conventional polling methods are once again inaccurate.
- See also: Women's March
After Trump's inauguration, a vocal minority of leftist protesters staged "women's marches" around the world. This "women's march" was largely just a sham intended to bash President Trump and promote far-left and feminist ideology that hundreds of millions of women oppose. Additionally, pro-life groups were excluded from the D.C. march, even though they support the humane principle of opposing legalized murder. Additionally, hateful leftist activists such as Madonna and Ashley Judd gave hateful, vulgar, and idiotic rants against Trump. These protesters forgot that Trump still managed to win about 42% of women and won a strong majority of about 53% of white women according to liberal "mainstream" exit polls.
Despite major left-wing hysteria and criticism due to President Trump's executive order temporarily suspending refugee inflows as well as immigration from certain high-risk nations, 49 percent of the American public supported the decision compared to 41 percent opposed, according to the "mainstream" Reuters, and 57% percent of likely American voters supported the ban according to Rasmussen.
Despite the fact that only 4.1% of the U.S. population in 2017 identified as LGBT, just over half a percentage point higher than four years prior, Americans greatly overestimate the proportion of homosexuals in the nation to be an average of 23%. While neither statistic shows homosexuals in the majority, their size and strength is greatly exaggerated, in conformance with earlier examples. Interestingly, Republicans and conservatives gave estimates closest to the actual number.
- Alberta, Tim (2017). ‘The Ideas Made It, But I Didn’t’. Politico Magazine (May/June 2017 edition). Retrieved April 22, 2017.
- Nixon's "Silent Majority" Speech. chnm.gmu.edu. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Nixon calls on the “silent majority” - Nov. 3, 1969 - This Day in History. History.com. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- United States presidential election of 1972. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Broder, David S. (November 8, 1972). Nixon Wins Landslide Victory; Democrats Hold Senate, House. The Washington Post. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Largest Landslide Victories In US Presidential Election History. worldatlas.com. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Grabar, Mary (May 5, 2016). The Forgotten History Of ‘The Black Silent Majority’. The Federalist. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- United States presidential election of 1980. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- United States presidential election of 1984. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Sanders, Sam (January 22, 2016). Trump Champions The 'Silent Majority,' But What Does That Mean In 2016?. NPR. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Mercer, Andrew; Deane, Claudia; McGeeney, Kyley (November 9, 2016). Why 2016 election polls missed their mark. Pew Research Center. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Bialik, Carl; Enten, Harry (November 9, 2016). The Polls Missed Trump. We Asked Pollsters Why.. FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- 2016 Presidential General Election Results. Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. Retrieved December 18, 2016.
- Jacobson, Louis (December 4, 2016). Mike Pence says Donald Trump won most counties by a Republican since Ronald Reagan. PolitiFact. Retrieved December 4, 2016.
- Wallace, Tim (November 16, 2016). The Two Americas of 2016. The New York Times. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
- Shepard, Steven (February 3, 2017). Donald Trump might be more popular than you think. Politico. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
- Keneally, Meghan (January 22, 2017). More than 1 Million Rally at Women's Marches in US and Around World. ABC News. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Mcardle, Mairead (January 21, 2017). Women's March sports slew of liberal talking points. Washington Examiner. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Madonna gives profanity-laced speech at Women's March in Washington. Fox News. January 21, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Laila, Cristina (January 21, 2017). Unhinged! Ashley Judd Recites ‘Nasty Woman’ Poem At Women’s March (VIDEO). The Gateway Pundit. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Presidential Results. NBC News. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Exit polls. CNN. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
- Kahn, Chris (January 31, 2017). Exclusive: Only a third of Americans think Trump's travel ban will make them more safe. Reuters. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
- Most Support Temporary Ban on Newcomers from Terrorist Havens. January 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2017.
- Gates, Gary J. (January 11, 2017). In US, More Adults Identifying as LGBT. Gallup. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
- Newport, Frank (May 21, 2015). Americans Greatly Overestimate Percent Gay, Lesbian in U.S. Gallup. Retrieved January 18, 2017.
- Silent majority definition according to the Cambridge Dictionary