by David Catron
Recently, President Trump tweeted two words that succinctly describe the winning coalition that will assure his November reelection: “SILENT MAJORITY.” This prompted a considerable amount of fustian mirth from the Twitter mob, a number of ostensibly serious opinion pieces in the corporate media, and contemptuous dismissal by the Democrats. The consensus was that Trump was indulging a Nixonian fantasy whereby white suburbanites frightened by an increasingly diverse electorate would save his presidency. This interpretation betrays profound ignorance about the term “silent majority,” which never had any racial connotation, and disregards what suburban voters really fear — Democratic incompetence in a time of economic uncertainty and social unrest.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 2, 2020
The ongoing riots in cities “governed” by supine Democrats, combined with the genuine threat that the violence will metastasize outward to the suburbs, is their most conspicuous fear. And they want action. A Morning Consult poll released Tuesday reveals that 71 percent of registered voters support calling in the National Guard to assist the police in quelling the riots, including 67 percent of suburban women. Likewise, 58 percent of voters support calling in the U.S. military if necessary, including 54 percent of suburban women. In other words, clear majorities support President Trump’s intention to deploy U.S. troops if state officials are unable or unwilling to contain the violence. Moreover, he possesses the power to do so. As Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) wrote in the New York Times Wednesday morning:
This week, rioters have plunged many American cities into anarchy, recalling the widespread violence of the 1960s.… Some governors have mobilized the National Guard, yet others refuse, and in some cases the rioters still outnumber the police and Guard combined. In these circumstances, the Insurrection Act authorizes the president to employ the military.… This venerable law, nearly as old as our republic itself, doesn’t amount to “martial law” or the end of democracy, as some excitable critics, ignorant of both the law and our history, have comically suggested. In fact, the federal government has a constitutional duty to the states to “protect them from domestic violence.”
Sen. Cotton’s straightforward and irrefutable essay has caused something of an insurrection at the Times. The New York Post reports, “Dozens of New York Times staffers erupted in outrage at the newspaper publishing an op-ed from Republican Sen. Tom Cotton urging President Trump to call out the U.S. military to crack down on protests that have turned violent.” In addition, the Times has been inundated by angry letters from its readers, a denunciation from the News Guild of New York, and outraged tweets from its own “journalists.” In the end, it may be necessary for the president to send in troops to protect James Bennet, the hapless editorial page editor who decided to print Sen. Cotton’s heretical op-ed. Bennett certainly can’t count on the protection of New York City’s Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Mayor de Blasio has been so feckless during the riots that even New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called him on the carpet for failing to prevent instances of looting and destruction of property in the city: “I believe the mayor underestimates the scope of the problem.… What happened in New York City was inexcusable.” Included on the growing list of Mayor de Blasio’s incredibly incompetent decisions was his refusal to accept assistance from the National Guard: “We do not need the National Guard to come into New York City.” Nor has Gov. Cuomo backed up his threat to remove the mayor and call in the National Guard. These two characters are by no means the only Democrats to remain inert while the riots escalate. At the beginning of the week, the president made it clear that he is losing his patience:
My first and highest duty as President is to defend our great country and the American people. I swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation, and that is exactly what I will do.… But in recent days, our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa, and others. A number of state and local governments have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residents.… If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.… America is founded upon the rule of law.
It goes without saying, of course, that most Democratic governors have made all manner of ill-informed claims about Trump’s remarks. Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D) said, “I reject the notion that the federal government can send troops into the state of Illinois.” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) claimed, “Trump is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division.” Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) declared, “Unfortunately, the President has once again taken the path of inciting combativeness, stoking racial tensions, and creating division when we need unity more than ever.” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) brayed, “I pray no soldier and no civilian is injured or killed by this reckless fit.” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) claimed, “You don’t diffuse violence by putting soldiers on the streets.” And the beat goes on.
All five of the Democratic governors named above have ostensibly activated the National Guard in their states. Yet, it’s obvious that they don’t intend to deploy the troops in any meaningful way. States with GOP governors such as Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah have deployed their troops effectively. Among the states with Democratic governors, the activation has been largely a matter of public relations. In fact, when Secretary of Defense Mark Esper requested National Guard assistance from Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to protect various national monuments in the District of Columbia, Gov. Northam refused. Esper then turned to Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan (R), who agreed to send the requested troops.
So, what about that silent majority? The Morning Consult poll noted above makes it clear that they want order restored. This, along with a fast economic recovery, is precisely what the president has pledged. Meanwhile, Trump’s likely general election opponent maunders about systemic racism while struggling to keep his figures straight concerning how many lives and jobs have been lost to the pandemic. As former Clinton pollster Doug Schoen writes, “The political risk to Democrats is becoming associated with the riots … which would result in the party losing the White House and risking their House majority.” The Democrats already own the riots, and the silent majority is quietly counting the days to November 3.
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David Catron is a recovering health care consultant and frequent contributor to The American Spectator. You can follow him on Twitter at @Catronicus.