So let us have order in America—not the order that suppresses dissent and discourages change but the order which guarantees the right to dissent and provides the basis for peaceful change.”
These words were spoken over half a century ago by Richard Nixon as he accepted his party’s nomination for president at the 1968 Republican convention.
America then, not unlike today, was facing an unwinnable war in Asia as our cities were engulfed in flames. Nixon memorialized the moment with a poetic tribute to America and its greatness, which seemed to have reached a depressing nadir and which yet rested in the hands of the great majority, the “forgotten Americans,” the “non-shouters” and “non-demonstrators” who watched rioting in urban centers with horror.
The old America to which Nixon spoke understood that society without law and order is no society at all, that lawlessness exposes the weak and their property to harm. “Freedom from fear,” as Nixon put it, is the very first liberty, the most essential “civil right” without which civilized society collapses. “Law and order” was not an impediment to justice, not a racist dog whistle, as some said then (and still do now), but a necessary component of the justice we all claim to seek.
America is currently living through its worst unrest since Nixon’s time. The parallels are obvious, and yet, despite a dreadful familiarity, it is clear that things have gotten worse.
The courage and confidence with which Nixon spoke of America is gone. There is no rule of law anymore, because America’s leaders no longer have any respect for America, our people, or our laws. America, as a country, has never been more lawless, more ungovernable, or more ashamed of itself.
We are no longer governed by law, but the arbitrary whims of intemperate, malicious hypocrites, people with no feeling of attachment to the public weal, and who do not feel any burden to prove otherwise.
What is happening now is the culmination of decades of ritual humiliation and the careful, deliberate conquest of America and its institutions.
Although a lot has changed since the 1960s, the “silent majority” never actually went away. Americans, by and large, still love our country without apology. We still want law and order. We have just become quieter and more compliant, in proportion to the increasing hostility, weakness, selfishness, and corruption of our putative leaders.
For half a century, forces have been at work to indoctrinate Americans to hate themselves. We have been fed propaganda in schools, on television, and in newspapers, which said we are racist, our country is racist, and everything we thought was true about America, everything we loved about America, is a lie.
Consequently, as our history was rewritten, and our communities transformed without our consent, we were told that everything that was happening to our country was natural and just. We had no right to complain.
As the will to enforce the law, especially immigration law, slackened, the silent majority came to understand, rightly, that what it cared about no longer had any bearing on public policy. We were owed nothing, not even the basic protection of our government.
By degrees, we came to understand that failure to go along with the tide of change would result in our excommunication from civil society. So we made all kinds of concessions, hoping that if we followed the rules, we would be left alone. We were wrong.
As the great majority were cowed into submission, the nation’s elite only grew more disdainful, more proud, and more detached from the great majority.
At last, there has been a total severance.
America’s long lockdown furnished enough evidence of elite neglect; but that was before that arrogant project ran over the shoals of radical ideology. The same politicians and professionals who have treated the American people like criminals for wanting to work and worship have suddenly carved out massive exceptions to the law for actual criminals, simply because they are promoting a political cause to which the elite are sympathetic.
They have done all of this without blinking.
Now, they have launched the most profound attack on the dignity of our people, our history, and the legitimacy of our institutions in living memory.
They have sided with a vicious mob that is tearing down our monuments, terrorizing our neighborhoods, and spewing calumnies against us.
Although astonishing, their ruthlessness is more forgivable than is the negligence of those who are said to be the protectors of the majority.
President Trump has returned to the Nixonian themes of 2016, but he has pursued “law and order” inconsistently and without deliberation, and his Republican “allies” are nowhere to be found.
Who is left standing for the silent majority?
For decades, Americans have been desperate, quietly desperate, for some semblance of normality and order to return to American life. They have yearned for what Nixon spoke of: a nation in which the majority rules, and everyone is treated equally under the law.
Never has that vision of America appeared more distant.
The time has come for the “non-shouters” to speak up for themselves.