Thursday, August 04, 2005

The New Silent Majority

"And so tonight--to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans--I ask for your support."
--Richard Nixon, 11/3/1969

That was what Richard Nixon said in 1969, when talking about his plans for the Vietnam War.

He also said this:

"My fellow Americans, I am sure you can recognize from what I have said that we really only have two choices open to us if we want to end this war.

--I can order an immediate, precipitate withdrawal of all Americans from Vietnam without regard to the effects of that action.

--Or we can persist in our search for a just peace through a negotiated settlement if possible, or through continued implementation of our plan for Vietnamization if necessary-a plan in which we will withdraw all of our forces from Vietnam on a schedule in accordance with our program, as the South Vietnamese become strong enough to defend their own freedom."

He chose what was behind door number 2.

Remember: he said this on November 3rd, 1969. The war ended, for all intents and purposes, May 1st 1975. April 30th was the day the US Embassy in Saigon was evacuated. So, 4 years 5 months and 28 days later, the war ended as badly as it would have had he just cut and run in 1969.

Except for this: 58 thousand Americans died in Vietnam, twenty percent of which (about eleven thousand) died after November 3rd, 1969. The source for these numbers is here.

58 thousand Americans dead. It's a bit of an abstract number. So, I thought I'd put it into real terms. Here's a list of cities that have a population of around 58,00o
  • White Plains NY
  • Lancaster PA
  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Sheboygan WI
  • Shawnee KS
  • San Clemente CA
  • Carson City NV
Imagine every man, woman and child in one of those cities being killed. Not all at once, of course. Do it over a decade and a half. That's the Vietnam war in American terms.

So far, we've only lost 1,800 Americans in Iraq. Only 1,800. In two-and-a-half years. Of course, that's the same number as were killed in the first five years in Vietnam (1961-65).

But we're not going to be in Iraq for 14 or 15 years.

Oh, except Rumsfeld said we may be in Iraq for up to 12 more years.

I know, I know--apples and oranges. This isn't Vietnam. But we are heading down the rabbit hole.

Which leads me back to the opening quote of Nixon's. When he used the phrase 'silent majority,' he was referring to those folks who weren't protesting the war. The ones who, more than anything, wanted a sense of order. A sense that everything was going to be OK.

I know. I came from a silent majority family.

Nixon's gift was that he appealed to these people. He made them believe that the war was winnable. It wasn't, as we now know, but that didn't matter.

What mattered is that he was able to reach them.

I believe there's a silent majority out there still. One that's not too happy with the way things are going, but are reluctantly standing behind Bush because they believed that he was the better choice.

I'm not talking about the rabid redstaters--the ultraconservative evangelical pseudochristians who have hijacked the Republican Party and this country. Lord knows, they make enough noise.

The problem is, and remains, that we on the progressive side need to stop being patsies. We need to stop being righteous. We need to stop being incredulous. We need to start standing up together and making sense. Because it's not enough to just speak truth to power.

We must speak common sense to our neighbors.



Blogger Jessica said...

Ok. I'm in.

9:22 PM, August 04, 2005  
Anonymous Boni said...

Every day I think "How can this be?"
How can these liars still be in power?
How can they be so smug, snarky and arrogant?
How many more Americans and innocent Iraquis need to die?
How can this country continue to be so complacent in the face of so much corruption?
How can the main stream media not be haunted by their duplicity in all of this?
How long is it going to take us to wrestle control away from them?
How can we afford to be silent any longer????
I want to see the kind of noisy, angry, raucus protests we used to see in the Viet Nam days...
Bad hair, tiedyed shirts and everything
If every independent, progressive and fed up republican (You know you're out there) would just get off their asses we could turn this country around.

7:29 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger United We Lay said...

You're right. So where do we start? We can talk abotu it or we can do it. What do you suggest?

9:25 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger mal said...

"common sense is unfortunately, a most uncommon virtue" we screwed up going in. The bombers screwed up by starting bombings before we left. Is anyone showing good sense in this?

11:29 AM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger Jason said...

You're right -- emotional appeal is only part of the equation, and acting like rabid Bush-haters only turns away those on the fence. Some smart people need to have the guts to stand up and make sense. There are rumblings out there, but I'm afraid it will take something big, or bigger numbers, before they really stand up.

1:05 PM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger Melanie said...

so if you're not a democrat ( and i'm sure you're not a repbulican)....what the hell are you?

10:54 PM, August 05, 2005  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I'm in.

Melanie: he is a Democrat...ish.

4:59 AM, August 06, 2005  
Blogger Melanie said...

Ahhh....that's what i was thinking..

5:05 PM, August 06, 2005  
Blogger Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Shit. We agree and we didn't call each other names.

9:42 AM, August 08, 2005  
Blogger Melanie said...

yes, that's scary. don't tell anyone...

12:14 AM, August 09, 2005  
Blogger Cranky Yankee said...

Why does someone have to be a Democrat or a Republican. I'm neither...never have been... I voted for a Democratic Presidential candidate in the last two elections and voted for a Republican in every one prior to that going back to 1984.

Both parties are broken. Both are obsessed with winning with little regard to leading. One is corrupt and the other is inept. Our government has become the best one money can buy. Right now the GOP is doing a better job whoring itself out to big business and the Democrats are trying to figure out how.

Watching Hillary Clinton swing herslef to the right and guys like Frist and Santorum swinging themselves to the left is disgusting. Anything to win. Sad.

We need another Abraham Lincoln. A guy willing to bear his soul and let the chips fall where they may. A guy, once in office, willing to turn the establishment on its head in order to do what is right.

The American voting public has become a moot point. Which ever party has better marketing will holds sway over the electorate. The issues don't matter. Shit, gay marriage got shrubco elected and look at things now! Most shrubco voters don't even realize that a vote for him is a vote against there own best interest. Look at the recent energy bill. It does nothing to lower the price of fuel or wean us off oil, but it gives Exxon Mobil, a company that is recording record profits of up to 7.5 billion dollars a QUARTER, over 3 billion dollars mostly for off-shore drilling. It's fucking crazy.

If you are not outraged by what this government is doing then you aren't paying attention.


1:51 PM, August 09, 2005  

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