The Silent Versus the New Majority
MICHAEL P. JR. BALZANO
As I was looking at the program and noting the titles of some panels convening today--Social Welfare, Defense, Military Policy, Foreign Policy, the Protest Movement, Watergate Revisited, etc.--I could not help but think about the interrelationship between the presidential policies that are being discussed in those panels and that of the role of the Silent Majority.
Dr. Friedman commented earlier that one of the dichotomies plaguing scholars' writing about the Nixon years was the controversy over Nixon's policies on the one hand and Nixon's unexplained electoral landslide on the other. Today I would like to shed some light on that dichotomy. I will argue that Nixon's overwhelming victory was not in spite of his controversial policies, but because the vast Silent Majority agreed with Nixon on the issues.
Further, I will argue that the Silent Majority's endorsement of Nixon's policies was not silent. It was quite vocal in its support and activist in its behavior. In my view, the relationship between this panel and the other panels discussing so- called "controversial" presidential policy is that the Silent Majority more than counterbalanced the antiwar protesters and social activists seeking to stop Nixon's policies. In short, it was the Silent Majority that gave Nixon the support needed to pursue those policies.
Before I begin, I want to offer some thoughts on the title of today's panel. This panel should be placed in historical context and retitled the "New Majority," as opposed to the "Silent Majority." During the sixties, the titles of two widely read political books contained the word "majority." Richard Scammon and Ben Wattenberg authored The Real Majority, a sociopolitical treatise on the average