Over the last half century, conservatives have grown used to thinking of themselves as the “silent majority.” Richard Nixon popularized the term in 1969. Amid the tumult of the Vietnam era, the president described these voters as “the millions of people in the middle of the American political spectrum who do not demonstrate, who do not picket or protest loudly.”
Picketing, protesting, blocking traffic, smashing windows, planting bombs — that stuff was for left-wing radicals. Good, honest, patriotic Americans preferred to effect change by voting.
Of course, plenty of right-wingers were not particularly “silent” about what they saw as the degradation of their country. Construction workers beat up anti-war protesters in New York, suburbanites engaged in sabotage to protest forced bussing, and vigilante attacks on hippies flared up around the United States.
But never mind that the “silent majority” framing wasn’t exactly true. It worked. In 1972, Nixon won 49 states and over 60% of the popular vote. That is, it worked if the goal was to win an election. If the goal was to stop the progressive march through America’s institutions, it failed utterly.
If you want to understand the power of the Target Boycott you MUST see what Target is promoting for yourself.
This has *nothing* to do with a rainbow “PRIDE” display. This has *everything* to do with the aggressive and explicit sexualization of children.
See for yourself: pic.twitter.com/hZjTXWkATR
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) May 28, 2023
Electoral victories aren’t enough. In the end, the silent majority lost. The campus radicals who occupied administration buildings and torched ROTC offices grew up, took over, and remade the country in their image. (RELATED: PATEL: The Culture War Has Moved To A New Phase)
They knew it didn’t matter if they lost a few elections. What mattered was institutional power, and they were making a bid for it. It’s institutional power that shapes the composition and ideology of America’s elite and disseminates their opinions to the masses. It’s institutional power that took us, in just eight years, from progressive darling Barack Obama opposing gay marriage to right-wing firebrand Donald Trump supporting it.
This lesson should have been clear to conservatives decades ago, but we’re finally waking up. Christopher Rufo has called for what he calls a cultural “counterrevolution,” using the same messaging tactics that progressives employed to bend public opinion in their favor on issue after issue. Some commentators have half-jokingly called Rufo’s approach “right-wing Leninism.” In Lenin’s vision, as in Rufo’s, an intellectual elite provides leadership and shapes political consciousness to inspire a populist revolt against the dominant ideological system. For Lenin, that system was tsarist autocracy. For Rufo, it’s woke progressivism.
The vanguard has its role: running for office, filing amicus briefs, taking over universities, writing op-eds and the like. But the “silent majority” must also speak up and contest leftist control of the public square. You can’t win by passively appealing to normalcy when your adversaries control the very definition of “normal.” There’s no “silent majority” coming to save us. It’s time to become the noisy minority. If we ever want to retake power from leftist lunatics, that’s the only way to do it.
So yes, stop ordering Bud Light and poke fun at your friend who does. Reply “Ok groomer” to every one of Target’s Facebook posts. Cause a hullabaloo at your school board meeting. Leave tire treads all over the rainbow flag your city painted on a downtown crosswalk. Let a million small rebellions blossom. (RELATED: Superstar Pitcher Clayton Kershaw Comes Out Against His Team Honoring Group That Mocks Christianity, Nuns)
Disruptions like these shatter the illusion of consensus. They compel the establishment to assert its dominance by naked force, which builds sympathy for the dissidents and makes their cause more attractive to energetic youngsters.
This kind of foment can quickly fizzle out unless it’s converted into institutional power, but there can be no institutional power-grab without popular resistance. It’s the difference between tossing gunpowder onto your campfire and using it to propel the cannonball that brings down the castle walls.
Grayson Quay is an editor at the Daily Caller.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.