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The new silent majority


Michael Tomasky puts forth a neo-Nixonian in reverse thesis:

They are out there. And they, I submit, are your new Silent Majority.

They’re not all liberal. But they definitely support abortion rights. They’re not rushing to join trans rights groups. But they want people to be treated with empathy and tolerance. They’re not reading gender-bending young adult fiction. But they recoil against censorship. They’re not socialists. But they want the government to do more for working- and middle-class people. They’re not Earth Firsters. But they believe climate change is real. They may still tell pollsters they’re wary of “big government.” But new interstates and bridges, and airport expansions, and new light-rail tracks, and expanded broadband access? They’re great with all that.

And most of all: They, just like Nixon’s old Silent Majority, seek normalcy, law and order, and someone to save the country from extremism. But in Nixon’s time, the extremism came from the left, while today it comes from the right. It’s the Trump right that attacks normalcy, on a daily and sometimes hourly basis. It’s the Trump right that is lawless, as evidenced most obviously by the fact that all these Republicans are tripping over themselves to support a convicted felon to be the president of the United States. And it’s the Trump right that is extremist on just about every issue, from health care to foreign policy.

So they sit at home, probably not watching much cable news, not marching in any marches, but just waiting until Election Day to register their opposition to MAGA. And in case you were wondering—yes, Michael Rulli, the Republican in that Ohio district, was MAGA all the way. He ran an ad in which the voiceover said: “On June 11, vote pro-gun. Pro-life. And pro-Trump.”

I would love to see the Democrats run with this idea that they are the new Silent Majority. It would infuriate the Republicans, who have assumed for 50 years that it is they who represent “regular America.” But with their slavish embrace of a sexual assaulting, classified document stealing, insurrection leading, twice impeached, quadruply indicted, and once (so far) convicted felon, they have waved goodbye to all that. They’re a noisy minority, and they’re alienating Americans by the millions.

Tomasky cites the relative success of Democrats in special elections over the past couple of years, such as the sixth congressional district in Ohio last week, that Trump carried by 29 points in 2020, but where a Democratic candidate with no money or resume came within single digits of a well-funded MAGA Nexus 6 model.

There’s definitely reason for some optimism in such results, but I was struck by Tomasky’s failure to note that the whole Republican herrenvolk democracy schtick is just that: 2024 will almost certainly be the ninth time in the last ten presidential elections in which adherence to the most basic of democratic principles — the person who gets the most actual votes wins — would have put a Democrat in the White House. Similarly, how often have Republican candidates gotten more votes than Democrats in the last dozen Senate electoral cycles? (I don’t know the answer but I suspect it’s a very low number, if one of our google ninja commenters can find it). ETA: A couple of commenters have pointed out that the better question is, how often do Republican senators end up representing more Americans than Democratic senators? The answer to that is not in a long time.

I’ve mentioned this before, but speaking of herrenvolk democracy, can you even imagine if a Democratic party coalition made up in large part of racial and ethnic minorities along with college-educated white women had gone on to win three of eight presidential elections in which that coalition was outvoted by the party of white men? That of course would be utterly intolerable to Very Serious People everywhere, and the sheer anachronistic absurdity of the Electoral College would be without a doubt overthrown by such a development.

That’s the real silent majority, and if it loses the presidency and the Senate in November again, after once again getting the most votes, further shoulder-shrugging should not be an acceptable response.

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