In the early 1970’s Vice-President Spiro Agnew popularized the term “silent majority.” The term referred to the majority of Americans who were so busy earning a living, raising a family and taking care of their other responsibilities that they had little time to voice their concerns regarding politics. However, many laws, particularly those involving government taxing and spending policy, seemed to benefit a small percentage of the people while harming this silent majority. Since they had little time to voice their concerns they relied on elected officials to represent them.
Unfortunately their elected representatives seemed to vote in favor of vocal special interests, much to the detriment of the silent majority. They found that their only choice was to have their voices heard at the ballot box. In 1978, Proposition 13 surprisingly passed in California, which was a state that generally seemed to favor taxing the large contributors to the economy in order to pay for ever-increasing services and to give money to those, who for whatever reason, contributed little or nothing and could therefore not earn enough to pay their living expenses.
Proposition 13 essentially reduced property taxes by more than 50%. This was the first time that the silent majority was so fed up with constantly rising taxes that they voted directly to reduce taxes. As it turns out, this frustration was felt nationwide. In 1980 a former California governor was elected President mostly because of his promise to reduce federal income tax rates for all contributors to the economy (especially those who contributed significantly). By 1981, income tax rates were cut for everyone, so that no American had to pay more than 31% in federal income tax on any of their income. At one time the maximum tax rate exceeded 90%.
The result of this, coupled with the removal of counter-productive government regulations, set off a 26 year period of economic growth (except for a couple of hiccups in 1991 and 2001). This twenty six year period was characterized by low unemployment, low inflation, reasonable interest rates and general prosperity. The silent majority were able to return to the business of earning a living, raising a family and being responsible. Gradually though, things changed.
Taxes were increased in 1986 and again by George (read my lips no new taxes) Bush in 1990. More taxes increased through the Clinton and younger Bush eras so that by 2008, the silent majority again felt over-taxed and under-represented. They felt they were taxed enough already. They wanted tax rates reduced, which meant that government spending would have to decrease dramatically in order to at least come close to balancing the budget. Unfortunately for them the timing was not good. Economic turmoil led to pain for the American people, especially those at the lowest income levels. Since the silent majority is very compassionate, some decide to put the plight of the lower classes ahead of their personal interests. This was enough to shift the balance from the silent majority to the vocal few.
But many remained determined. They took their position of being taxed enough already and formed a movement that became known as the TEA (taxed enough already) party. Again they used the ballot box to have their voice heard. In 2010, they elected many representatives who shared their view. The result was that they were able to actually reduce government spending and hold the line on tax rates for all except those at the very top of the income ladder.
In 2012 the silent majority had to gain further voices in government. Unfortunately, the vast increases in unemployment compensation, food stamps, free health care, easy to get welfare and other social programs enacted by the current administration meant that only 53% of households actually paid federal income tax. The remaining 47% voted to keep the current “gravy train” and the administration was able to convince enough of the silent majority, so they won re-election. The silent majority, however, may now be ready to stand firm.
Top income earners in my home state New Jersey, can pay up to 40% of their marginal income to the federal government. They then pay 9% income tax to the state, a 7% sales tax on almost everything they buy, the highest property taxes in the country, the maximum social security tax, almost 3% for Medicare tax and hidden taxes on gasoline, cigarettes, alcohol and now medical devices. This is more than enough.
The TEA party represents the silent majority, but perhaps goes a bit too far and seems a bit too radical. Reducing taxes, reducing government spending, adding freedom back to the marketplace, de-regulating over-burdened industries and generally adhering to the Constitution are principles that are shared by the silent majority and the organized portion of the TEA party. The problem comes on social issues.
While the silent majority is generally conservative, they have a much more moderate view on social issues. Through their life experiences they understand the spirit of compromise, while maintaining their core values. And they are generally tolerant of people whose social views generally differ from theirs.
The majority of our young people now stand with the silent majority. According to Campaign for Liberty, “A new Harvard study released this week shows a majority of America’s young people would vote to recall President Obama if they had the chance.” Our young people understand a return to the Constitution is absolutely necessary. They understand the importance of loving neighbors instead of judging them... They understand the real strength that comes from making room for every American.
The conservative movement has a lot going for it right now... Our young people and the silent majority are unified. They essentially share the same views on social issues. But a word to the wise... If the TEA party wants to be a dominant force in American politics in 2014 and beyond, it will have to better understand the silent majority and make room for the young people. Without these people, they simply will not advance their economic issues.
Michael Busler, Ph.D. is a public policy analyst and an Associate Professor at Richard Stockton College.
Remember how Obama was going to fix the economy...? Well, 1,148,000 fewer Americans held jobs this November than did 7 years ago according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Bidwell comment: This is despicable. We can chalk these sad statistics up to terrible policies and one blunder after another. We need a change in our governance… A balanced budget amendment, sound money, and the right for every individual to keep 80% of his / her income would put us on sounder footing financially. Let’s keep this in mind when we head to the ballot boxes in 2014 and beyond.
Thanks so much for this article. It is refreshing to find out I am not alone in my thinking. When I see mini-vans with the stick people families, complete with pets, I wonder what those people are thinking. They have just told anyone paying attention that they are a family and that they play soccer, baseball, etc. They have just given “anyone” information that might be useful in ripping them off, kidnapping their children, etc. if “anyone” has a mind to do so.
There was a time when keeping information about yourself private was paramount to living . . . Anyhow, loved the article. Thanks, Jeff
This is in response to The Tyranny of Branding
, which is also one of my all-time favorite reads. By observing all the ways people eagerly associate themselves with certain brands, Marta Mossburg correctly depicts the way our society has moved away from discretion, manners, and class (which honor others) to a society of narcissistic, self-centered people overly concerned with the way they are perceived by others.