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We Are The New Silent Majority. And We're Tired Of Extremists' Shit

MAGA agitators and woke 'social justice' warriors make up, together, about 33% of political thought in the United States. So why is the 66% so afraid of them?

It was U.S. President Richard Nixon who first popularized the phrase ‘the Silent Majority’.

He enjoined the nation in November 1969, “And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support."

Who was the ‘silent majority’ to whom he referred?

He meant those who weren’t counted among what might have been considered ‘wokes’ of the day. ‘Middle America’ remained silent but didn’t agree with the counterculture, the war protesters, the radicals, the women’s libbers, the highly vocal and smoke-enveloped, psychedelic visible shroomheads of the day.

The phrase has long been popular with conservatives. Ronald Reagan appropriated it in his various political gubernatorial and presidential campaigns, as did New Yorkers Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg in the ‘90s, along with Christian fundamentalist televangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. The tacit assumption was always: We’re not like those filthy liberal hippies! Regardless of the decade.

America’s blindness was in thinking that all of the right was included in ‘middle America’. The John Birch Society, Christian Crusade, and the McCarthyists were no more representative of the Silent Majority than the Yippies, Gloria Steinem or the Black Panthers.

Middle America was a lot fuzzier back then. Americans couldn’t agree on much, but apart from the long-haired freaks and relentlessly buzz-cutted anti-Commie crazies, we did at least support the essentials of democracy and respected the Constitution, even if we didn’t always like Supreme Court rulings. At the end of the day, we could usually still shake hands.

Thanksgivings still had to be mediated or prepped with what was verboten. “Don’t mention FDR in front of Grandpa!” Mom might counsel the kids, not that any of them had any clue what that crusty old fart in a wheelchair had done. “Please, don’t get him started on the New Deal!”

“The war is off-limits, do you understand?” Dad might sternly inform his teenagers. “Uncle Bob and Aunt Edith have been warned too. They support it as much as you don’t, but what your mother and I support is a conflict-free family occasion, and anyone who violates this gets sent to the kitchen to finish dinner!”

It’s time to redefine The Silent Majority in 2024, which no longer, and never truly has been, about who holds conservative values and who doesn’t. The far left, then and now, have always been among the loudest voices, but today the far right is just as noisy. In order for there to be a ‘Middle America’ there must be two sides. In the DisUnited States of the 21st century, ‘Middle America’ is now those of us who can’t stand either fanatical extreme.

The Hidden Tribes of America is a 2018 report I found awhile back and have referred to from time to time. It’s the brainchild of More In Common, a non-partisan organization that “does not endorse, support, or affiliate with any political candidates, political campaigns, or organizations,” and states they exist to advance the common good.

Hidden Tribes examines the levels of polarization in the United States and divides Americans into seven groups or ‘tribes’. The more vocal and extreme elements, or ‘wings’, bookend the rest of us, the ‘Exhausted Majority’, which sounds like a pretty apt description of how I and many others I know feel about what passes for political discourse in the country.

The left ‘wing’ are the Progressive Activists, what might be better described as the ‘woke’, although Common Ground never mentions that word. They’re defined as the social media addicts concerned about diversity, equity and inclusion. They comprise about 8% of political thought.

The right ‘wing’, by their definition, is larger - including the ‘Traditional Conservatives’ (19%) with what we would call the MAGAs at 6%.

That leaves the remaining four Exhausted Majority tribes as Moderates, Politically Disengaged, Passive Liberals, and Traditional Liberals.

Interestingly, they include no conservatives inside the EM. I disagree with excluding the Traditional Conservatives.

The report was published in 2018 which might explain the discrepancy. Polarization has happened swiftly in the last 10-15 years and six can mean a big difference. Conservatives aren’t as monolithic as they might once have been, and I know plenty who are as fed up as those of us on the Level Left.

I suspect the report could use some tweaking as we face a federal election over which hangs a giant question mark with two deeply unpopular, elderly candidates, and the only people who love them are, it seems, those who think the other side is Evil Personified.

Two reasons why I think more conservatives are part of the Exhausted Majority than the right Hidden Tribes ‘wing’ in 2018:

The Political Homeless - Many liberals and conservatives, including me, are abandoning their party because it no longer represents their interests. But they still regard the other party with the same distaste they’ve long held for it. They don’t know who they’re going to vote for, and maybe they’ll suck it up, hold their nose, and vote for Our Grandpa, or maybe they’ll just say fuck it and vote for an independent, even if it’s a crazy conspiracist they know can never win. It’ll be more of a protest vote.

The Reshufflers - They’re the side-switchers who will vote for the other side’s candidate if they think that party better represents their interests. It includes Republicans turning Democrat and vice versa. It includes blacks and Latinos who will not so reliably vote Democrat this time, along with Never Trumpers and those who voted for him before but are now thoroughly disgusted with ninety-one federal charges.

I think this election with be a real nail-biter except for those of us who won’t be happy with either outcome.

Let’s take a quick look at the rest of those Exhausted Majority Hidden Tribes:

“Traditional Liberals (11%) tend to be cautious, rational, and idealistic. They value tolerance and compromise. They place great faith in institutions.
Passive Liberals (15%) tend to feel isolated from their communities. They are insecure in their beliefs and try to avoid political conversations. They have a fatalistic view of politics and feel that the circumstances of their lives are beyond their control.
The Politically Disengaged (26%) are untrusting, suspicious about external threats, conspiratorially minded, and pessimistic about progress. They tend to be patriotic yet detached from politics.
Moderates (15%) are engaged in their communities, well informed, and civic-minded. Their faith is often an important part of their lives. They shy away from extremism of any sort.”

This is a nice little sandwich of people who still care on either side along with those who are too fed up to give a shit.

I strongly suspect it’s the Traditional Conservatives who are the right wing’s wild cards on their side. Some of them seem to be as fed up with polarization as those of us on the liberal but not radical left. According to a Pew Research Center poll, “65% [of Americans] say they always or often feel exhausted when thinking about politics.” Seventy-eight percent say there’s too little focus on the issues facing the country, and 28% of the public had a negative view of both political parties. (Sept 2023)

A few years ago, I met an early example at a political meetup in which I got into a friendly debate with a conservative who, like me, didn’t approve of violence. But he felt the left was as violent as the right and I disagreed, saying they might be eventually, but not yet.

I now think I was wrong-ish. This guy talked about the then-recent CHOP protest in Washington state - a Capitol Hill Occupied Protest neighborhood shutdown in Seattle which was declared an unlawful occupation, in protest of the George Floyd killing. It was a minor protest but two people were nevertheless shot; one died. But January 6th it wasn’t, and the occupation didn’t last long. He also argued that the post-Floyd Minneapolis protests qualified and I again disagreed; however I simply wasn’t paying attention at the time. The killing was so depressing I avoided most discussion of it, compounded by the new lockdown world and my unemployment benefits having just run out.

If I ever meet that guy again I want to tell him I was wrong. The Minneapolis riots and other Floyd-related ones pointed to more violent radicalization on the left, and now, in the post-October 7th era, college campuses are beginning to resemble mini-January 6ths.

The CHOP protests were small potatoes and received more conservative fear than they deserved, but the Floyd riots were worse than I’d realized. Even the G20 riots and protests we had in Toronto in 2010 paled in comparison, although looking at the history of Gx protests, the signs have been there for decades that the left has the capacity to be violent. Again. Like it was in the 60s and 70s in the U.S.

But here’s the thing: We in the Exhausted Majority (including, in my opinion, many Traditional Conservatives) are becoming a threat to others.

I’ve just seen the first shot across the bow that illiberal ‘progressive’ activists are beginning to psychologically disengage from the notion that they themselves are ‘liberal’. Andrew/Andrea Chu, the really dude-y transactivist, sneers at liberals and blames us for being ‘the most insidious source of the anti-trans movement in this [the U.S.] country’.

It’s the first shot across the bow I’ve seen of a ‘woke’ social justice activist showing hostility to (and fear of) liberals.

I wonder how many others on the Illiberal Left have begun to regard us Traditional Liberals as The Enemy.

It means we could find ourselves on the receiving end of their violence. WPATH Files (liberal!) activist Michael Shellenberger told a British interviewer on YouTube that he’s increased the security around his property in anticipation of violent harassment by transactivists. He expects he’ll likely get doxxed.

It’s not good news the far left is beginning to match the far right’s violence record, but it is that they may be detaching from the rest of us. For one thing, it makes them more honest about who and who isn’t a liberal. For another, if we’re The Enemy of the far left, just as RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) are The Bogeymen for the far-right’s True Believers, it opens up new avenues for the two less radical Majorities to come together and cooperate to resist and defeat the forces of authoritarianism in our respective extremist wings.

As a woman, I know that authoritarianism is never good for us and children. As someone who’s been politically active for over forty years, I see that the problem with the far left is they can’t say no to anything, and the problem with the far right is they say no to everything.

It’s why I won’t support the Democrats this November. I know Trump is bad for women and children although he’ll probably hit the brakes on trans nonsense, especially transitioning naive children, but I also won’t support a candidate who supports the misogynist and homophobic trans movement, as does Biden.

I know I can work with at least some conservatives, and I believe some are coming to realize they can work with some liberals—we’re not all crazy antisemitic wokenazis.

I encourage you to read The Hidden Tribes report, or at least skim the (somewhat lengthy) summary on their website. Maybe take the 8-minute quiz to see in which tribe you fit! (I scored as I expected: Traditional Liberal.)

We are the new Silent Majority. But our day may be coming to speak up and drown out the voices of creeping authoritarianism.

We’re biding our time.

Did you like this post? Would you like to see more? I lean left of center, but not so far over my brains fall out. Subscribe to my Substack newsletter Grow Some Labia so you never miss a damn thing!




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