Many of you will have no idea of what that phrase means. It was a term made famous by Richard Nixon during the 1968 campaign for President and during the immediate years thereafter. It faded from use after his resignation in l1974. At that time there was constant press coverage of protests of one type or another. The Hippies were in complete ascendancy. Every few weeks there was a protest and large media coverage; the press just loved those Hippies. Of course you have to remember the old adage about the media “if it bleeds it leads”. The media loves reporting on the bizarre and unusual, the loud and profane, the controversial and flamboyant. If St. Paul himself came from heaven and gave the greatest sermon heard since the Sermon on the Mount do you think the media would want to give it coverage? The sermon I mean. The visitor from outer space aspect would blare from the media. The ordinary activities of ordinary Joes doesn’t attract headlines. The hard working taxpaying citizen who minds his own business and even does a little charity work for his church or community will never be noticed. But the protester objecting with a bullhorn about anything will get his 15 minutes of glory at a minimum. If you followed the press of that era and the TV coverage you would have rightly thought that everyone under the age of 30 was a Hippie or wanna be Hippie. Certainly if you hear a news account these days that mentions that era you would definitely draw that conclusion because that is the impression given in those historical reflections in the media. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The facts are that the Hippies were a minority. A distinct minority not only on campuses around the country but in general society. They were dirty and lazy and dope heads. They didn’t exactly inspire any reason for adulation. The overwhelming majority of Americans were ordinary folks. Yes, there were some of us who thought the war in Viet Nam was the wrong war in the wrong place and being fought in an incredibly stupid manner to foster the LBJ agenda rather than for legitimate strategic reasons to protect the US. But we weren’t marching in the streets, running off to Canada to avoid the draft (there were a only a handful of such men in any case, to watch movies you would think that thousands fled there) or smoking dope and wearing Nehru jackets and beads. We wore suits and ties or bib overalls and went about our lives doing our work and raising our families as best we could with the inflation and oil embargoes, real and threatened. We were appalled at the Hippies and didn’t like them. They were darlings of the media, not Main Street. That great segment of society that didn’t make noise or protest or cause headlines became the Silent Majority. They elected Nixon twice during the time. His second election was a genuine landslide ofver McGovern. It seems in the last 20 years that every election becomes some mandate or landslide in the press even if the election is only by a margin of a few percentage points.
That phrase became a real rallying point. The Karl Roves of that day did a great job. They connected with the people. They didn’t connect with the Hippies, the unions and the radical left as typified by McGovern or the media. But they had the right “marketing” approach. They knew their audience. The media hated the phrase and those who propounded it. Some respect for common sense and traditional values was wanted by the majority of Americans and that was reflected in the votes of the era. These were the folks who didn’t buy into the Great Society of LBJ and the accomodation of the Soviets. Ronald Reagan was the best examplar of this attitude toward country and duty. Even though many of the Silent Majority were opposed to Nam that didn’t mean they were ready to play kissy face with the Soviets like those on the left who were still vehemently proclaiming what a just and rational system of government they had and wanted us to emulate. This in spite of Solzhenitzyn and the emerging horrors of the Stalin era. Because we were quiet and not demonstrative the media and liberal types assumed that we were not a majority or that we weren’t sophisticated enough to appreciate their persuasive arguments. They were wrong. I hope America still has a Silent Majority today that will rise to the occasion and restore America to the right course. I think it is still there and that its power is underestimated. These are the people who are self-reliant and believe everyone has consequences for their own actions and that the Government is best when it interferes in our lives the least. They are the ones who have confidence in the people, their fellow man, more than they do in Nanny Government. I think someone will resurrect the phrase again one day soon and the response will be large. People want to believe in their country and that it stands for something better when we all stand on our own rather than being propped up by Government. It is the people that are great and will prevail.
Have you noticed the Market since the election and inauguration? People get to “vote” every day with their money. When it is their money at risk they make more objective decisions even if they are worried or scared. If the stimulus bill was such a good thing for our economy why hasn’t the Market recognized that and zoomed up or at least taken a significant bounce? The drop in the last few weeks is fact, not opinion or conclusion. Remember Markets are always about the future, never what happened last week. The market doesn ‘t think much of his plans so far. Draw your own conclusions. Do remember that millions of folks make those decisions about the market every day.