*See my post-election reaction here: Well… That Didn’t Go as Planned.*
Donald Trump loves to tout his supporters as true Americans. If you back the President, then your adoration is patriotism, and therefore you love the United States of America. And if you don't love Trump, you must hate America. This ideological schism has grown to an untenable level in the years since he was elected the 45th President.
As the 2020 election has progressed, a common conservative talking point is the concept of the ‘silent majority.’ The belief that liberals and the mainstream media have shunned Trump supporters so much that their voices are not registering in state and national polling and that they are going to shock the country again with Trump’s re-election.
A little over 50 years ago, another embattled President used these same words to bolster his support. His name was Richard Nixon. Just another commonality between the two controversial presidencies. At the time, Nixon was attempting to cultivate a middle ground of support, acknowledging a large subset of voters who would vote for him, but he didn’t need them to say it out loud.
Co-opting the saying, Trump has now employed his common ‘you’ll see!’ tactic of psychological warfare on the American public. He believes his silent majority is coming to save his presidency; polls, surveys, and sentiment be damned. The fundamental flaw with this strategy is that Trump supporters are anything but silent. They are loud and obnoxious, never missing a moment to let you know how much they love the President.
No, millions of Trump supporters are not sitting in the shadows, quietly waiting for the election to come for them to shock the world. That was 2016; now, the same descriptor no longer applies. They are too damn loud to be ignored. They are out and proud since his win, and they number in exactly the amount you can see driving down your main streets in their caravans.
Silence is Silent
The very definition of the word is predicated on the ability to go unnoticed. The absence of sound. A void. We know for sure that the political conversation in this country is growing louder with each election cycle. None are as loud as Trump supporters.
If they are the loudest, then who exactly are the silent ones?
Traditionally, before this new era of celebrity politics, the ‘silent majority’ was always the non-voters. The two parties of the U.S. government are on a 120-year losing streak compared to non-voter turnout. 1900 was the last time more than 66% of the voting-age population participated in the electoral process. Since then, non-voters have won every election, accounting for more than 35% of the voting population.
Trump’s ascension to the Oval Office changed the game. We are in asymmetrical, uncharted waters. For the first time in over 50 years, with the focus on mail-in/absentee and early voting, we could very well see voter turnout above 60%. Early voting records are already being smashed across the country.
The polls speak for themselves this close to the election. With a welcomed change in focus, state-level polling shows Joe Biden leading in all but one battleground state. A landslide is coming, regardless of how vocal Trump supporters are to the contrary.
The Quiet Ones
Unfortunately for Trump, the current ‘silent majority’ will be made up of a large subset of the middle of the country, with no strong loyalties to either party, who are disgusted by the current administration.
Millions of moderates and independents, who lack a place in both uncompromising wings of the two-party system, are watching one of the most unethical, incompetent, shameless Presidents in any of their lifetimes. Even Nixon had the decency to resign when he knew he was caught.
The squeaky wheel gets the grease. And the other wheels get forgotten. The media and the public focus on the 20–30% of the population that makes the most noise. They look over and look past the quiet ones who are intently watching and analyzing the shifting political dynamics.
These voters see all. They are smart; they are attentive. They watched the impeachment, the handling of the pandemic, and the continuous violation of the Emoluments Clause. They watched the irresponsibility of the President and his administration through all of it. They have seen enough to know how to vote in November.
Do you know what the hardest thing is for a human to do? Admit that they are wrong. And oh boy, there are millions of former Trump supporters who have slowly realized that they made a terrible mistake voting for the former reality television personality.
A lot of these remorseful supporters backed the President for so long that changing their mind now would not just be an indictment of their support, but an indictment of their judgment, their character. It is easier to slowly omit support over time than to come out in opposition to the very thing they had had previously advocated for.
Your uncle that voted for Trump in 2016 stopped posting about him on Facebook in 2018. The friend from high school switched to only posting pictures of their children. Their social media accounts are strangely inactive. Each of them are trying to make you forget their past sins by avoiding the conversation altogether.
There are millions in the same boat, hoping you won’t notice. It is okay if you did, just don’t talk to them about it. They want you to forget. And they want you to let them quietly redeem themselves in November.
You won’t get raucous crowds or 100 car long caravans. Voters won’t wrap themselves in Biden flags or wear head to toe Biden/Harris paraphernalia. They will just be responsible and concerned Americans collectively using their silent piece of democracy to usher in a much-needed presidential course correction.