If Fred Thompson receives the GOP Presidential nomination next year, he stands a good chance of winning the Presidency outright–but only if the “silent majority” turns out on November 4, 2008, to support him.
The Republicans would be nowhere without the “silent majority”–Americans who view the Democrats as too close to the hard-left. In 1972, the “silent majority” found George McGovern’s views distasteful, and thus gave Richard Nixon a landslide re-election win; eight years later, horrified by Jimmy Carter’s first term, the “silent majority” tossed him from office and placed the White House under Republican control for twelve years.
In 1992, the “silent majority” split in two, with some members becoming enamored of Ross Perot; this split caused Bill Clinton to win the Presidency. (It should be noted that due to Perot’s influence on the election, Clinton is regarded by some conservatives as an “illegitimate” President, in the sense that had Perot not been a factor, George H. W. Bush would have soundly defeated Clinton via the “silent majority” vote. It’s funny that liberals who regard the 2000 contest as a “stolen” election don’t realize that their conservative counterparts view the 1992 election as “stolen” for different reasons.)
The “silent majority,” divided by Perot in the 1990s, reunited in the 2000s to support George W. Bush. If Thompson doesn’t alienate large segments of the “silent majority,” the Presidency is his.
Thompson hasn’t made any major missteps so far, but he’s only been an official candidate for about a week. In order to keep the “silent majority” satisfied, he has to be mindful of what these voters want. While the “silent majority” understood that George W. Bush had to use catchphrases like “compassionate conservative” to differentiate himself from the media-mauled Newt Gingrich and Kenneth Starr, these voters won’t tolerate such gimmicks today. The “silent majority” wants a capital-C conservative, someone who will strongly defend the guiding principles of the Right.
These voters want a candidate who will not back down in the face of ideological hostility from Democrats and the Fourth Estate. They want someone who recognizes that, to many Americans, our country is fighting a war on two fronts–a foreign war against an unscrupulous enemy, and a domestic war against those who want to push the country in an excessively “progressive” direction.
No, Thompson doesn’t have to deliver a speech reminiscent of Pat Buchanan’s remarks at the 1992 Republican National Convention; he’d never survive the media onslaught that would occur if he did. However, he must reassure the “silent majority” that he understands their social concerns. These voters want a healthy culture every bit as much as they want a strong economy and a well-equipped military. Nixon, Ronald Reagan and even the otherwise unpopular Bush are still embraced by the “silent majority” for their opposition to an “anything-goes” culture. Thompson must make clear that he will follow in that tradition.
It was the “silent majority’s” lack of enthusiasm for John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney that gave Fred Thompson this opportunity. If he keeps the concerns of the “silent majority” at the forefront of his campaign, millions of voters will back him on Election Day–loudly and proudly.