On November 3, 1969 President Richard Nixon gave a speech in which he called out to the "silent majority", those Americans who did not demonstrate against the Vietnam War nor participate in public discourse, to support his efforts in continuing the conflict.
This past year polls have shown that 90 percent of the public want background checks for gun purchases. It did not pass congress. 63 percent of Americans favor immigration reform. The House of Representatives will not even bring it up for a vote. 48 percent as opposed to 40 percent of the electorate did not want food stamps cut yet the House voted to do just that.
Now by demanding the defunding of Obamacare, the GOP has caused a government stoppage even though 72 percent of the country oppose the shutdown and 44% will blame them as opposed to 35 percent citing President Obama.
Now the Republicans in the House are threatening a default on our loans by saying they will vote to not raise the debt ceiling if they don't get their way. Once again they are swimming upstream against the tide as 56 percent of Americans say it would be a bad thing if the debt ceiling were not raised.
What is going on here? Why are the GOP being so stubborn and out of touch with the majority of the electorate? The House of Representatives is made up of congressmen and women who represent small constituencies and a small percentage of these are controlled by the vocal minority known as the tea party. Out of 435 voting members of the House 233 are Republicans. Out of that, 100 are tea party affiliated and 40 are hardcore tea party activists who consistently vote against the GOP establishment. By refusing to co-operate on any issues that do not support their own self interests, the vocal tea party has drummed moderate Republicans out of the party through primary challenges. So while national support of the tea party is down to 22 percent (as opposed to 32 percent in 2010) locally the GOP faces threats of losing their jobs if they don't follow this lunatic fringe's wishes. As far as gun control, the GOP is beholden to the NRA, another right wing fanatical group. The recent recall of two state senators in Colorado shows the power of that vocal minority.
I say lunatic because this tea party caucus actually believes a shutdown of government is a good thing because they want smaller government. They think the debt ceiling should not be raised so we can control our debt. Never mind that a default may make us slide back into a recession and cause catastrophic problems for the global economy.
This extreme minority percentage is like the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. They are the tail wagging the dog and the spoiled child that throws a temper tantrum when they don't get their way.
How can we combat this? The new "silent majority" needs to find its voice. The moderate Republicans, the independents, the conservative Democrats, those in the middle need to become vocal. I believe the antipathy and anger towards DC and obstructionism (Congress' approval rating is at 10% and dropping) has turned many away from politics to the point where they tune out, don't pay attention, and don't vote or voice their opinions.
This is not to say that those on the left have not been active. There have been pro-immigration reform rallies and marches on Washington protesting racism, sexism, and voter suppression. Gay marriage proponents have made great strides. State Senator Wendy Davis has led a revolt in Texas.
But I am speaking of those in the middle, the silent majority of Americans who are reasonable and rational. They need to make their voices heard at town hall meetings, by calling their representatives, by peaceful demonstrations, and most importantly by showing up at the voting booths, not just for the general election but for the primaries. This is still a democracy.
Together we can bring sanity and reasonableness back but only if our voices are heard.