Lesson from Nixon: Heed the Great Silent Majority

By Danny Zeng | November 27th, 2012

Republicans have debated for weeks now after the election – and indeed for the last two election cycles – as to the direction of the Party. The internal strife between the so-called conservative ideologues (often people with distorted understanding of conservatism) and the moderates (or disparagingly known as RINOs, Republicans in Name Only) is threatening the thin coalition that the Party currently holds in the electorate. Social conservatives almost succeeded in nominating Rick Santorum during the nomination process (In fact, The Weekly Standard reports yesterday that Santorum has his eyes on 2016). A large swath of the Party loyalists and frankly the media have discredited and dismissed the libertarian-based Ron Paul movement in this election. The collective exasperation on the day after the election for some vocal conservatives: well, we should have elected a more conservative candidate.

However, if history were of any guide, I would urge the Party to reconsider its race-to-the-bottom inclination to out-of-touch extremism. The better strategy is to do what Nixon so ingeniously did in 1969, in invoking the “great silent majority.” In present terms, this would include those hard-working middle-class, working-class Americans who prefer to watch football on weekends with cold beer or venture into the outdoors, those who attend dinner parties during weekdays to catch up with friends on the latest gossip, those college graduates who can no longer find jobs that match their skills, and those young parents who help their children with homework and take them to sports and music practices after school  You get the drift. In short, those average Americans who do not have grand theories about politics or ideology but indeed who are simply trying to work, raise a family, attend community functions  and socialize with friends in dwindling leisure hours. Most Americans are not political ideologues; they have a life in the private sphere. As conservatives, we should respect that. Out of all people, we should be most inclined to understand that people would rather be more active in their private and local communities than the behemoth that is the federal government. Recognizing this fact means that conservatives, too, need to detach ourselves from political hubris and not so readily claim the mantle of speaking for all Americans in the public sphere.

I am a proud American conservative, but that label has been tarnished since the days when National Review was first founded in 1955. Presently, I would urge my Party to see moderation as a party building strategy, which includes rejecting extreme factions within the Party itself, or risk being slaughtered (or in modern presidential lexicon, a “shellacking”) on Election Day. This strategy does not require the Party to compromise its principles; rather, this simply requires Republicans to listen to the voters, acknowledge the demographic trends, and build a New Right coalition that is inclusive of the “silent majority” to combat the Liberal juggernaut of Reid-Pelosi – and root out the dinks who undermine the movement (the likes of Todd Akin and Richard Murdock).

Politics is an art. In order for conservatives to climb back to the seat of government, we have to be patient.When the liberals succeed in electing a radical President by dividing America under a campaign banner of “Forward” and “Unity,” conservatives need to sober up and self reflect. What went wrong? I believe that we have a messaging issue: our narrative got lost in the “emerging America” amidst the constant droning of liberal propaganda. We need to proactively define and communicate what we stand for, stop allowing others to define who we are or what we believe in, and principally position ourselves as pro-liberty, pro-family, pro-free market, pro-limited government, and pro-personal responsibility. This also means that we tone down on unpopular rhetoric that does not advance our cause. I believe conservatives are on the right side of history. Ask yourself: what are the Democrats fighting for? The middle class? The poor? Both victims of this administration’s policies? We need to hold them to the fire for the rapacious vagueness that they promise, shrouded within layers of deceitful rhetoric. Pro-middle class, pro-Latino, pro-poor, pro-women are contrived demagoguery, with the implication that any reasonable person with an “R” next to his/her name necessarily entails anti-middle-class, anti-Latino, anti-poor, or anti-women (as made infamously by the slogan “War on Women”). GOP is the Party of principles ingrained in fundamental political values: liberty, federalism, fiscal prudence, and family. We are the Party of Lincoln. We are the party of Reagan. And we shall continue to fight to be that shining beacon of hope for liberty lovers around the world. The future of our Party depends on common sense pragmatism. Let’s not throw this long-established legacy and credibility down the drain just yet through petty, constant dog-eat-dog infighting on issues of technicality. My fellow Republicans, heed the Silent Majority.


About Danny Zeng

College student, political junkie, I like to read, and I like to learn

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