Blogpost #7

   Richard Nixon tapped into the stereotype of “elite doves” and “reactionary hardhats” in the sense that Nixon used it to support his claims of the “silent majority.” To be specific, Nixon attempted to cater the idea of  a“silent majority” to the working class laborers who were often opposed to the anti-war movement. At the same time Nixon used the stereotypical anti-war protester as an example of the lawlessness of the anti-war movement. The article then goes on to explain how Nixon intentionally used the phrase the “silent majority” as a directive to keep his followers quiet so that he and his party could speak for them (Lewis, 2013). 

   At the same time George Wallace used the stereotype of “elite doves” and “reactionary hardhats” to develop a loaded and extreme mentality of “us vs them” between White working-class Americans and liberal politicians and anti-war activists (Lewis, 2013). Wallace developed amongst his ever growing number of followers from the North, a belief that, “a select group have written guidelines in bureaus and court decisions, have spoken from some pulpits, some college campuses, some newspaper offices, looking down their noses.” (Lewis, 2013). Overall one should conclude that Wallace took advantage of the stereotypes of “elite doves” and “reactionary hardhats” to create conspiracy theories that discredited the leftist movement of the era.

    Assuming that the anti-war left was not the cause of antagonism for White working-class Americans then we have to look to page 166 of the reading, where it says that, “Hamill again: “the working-class white man is actually in revolt against taxes, joyless work, the double standards and short memories of professional politicians, hypocrisy and what he considers the debasement of the American Dream.”” (Lewis, 2013). To put it simply, from my subjective interpretation of the quote, Americans saw increased taxes, poor work conditions and corrupt politicians as an indication that the “American Dream” was under attack. I would argue that in theory the Democratic Party could have taken steps to avoid this realignment of political leanings of middle-class Americans. This would have included simply accommodating to the frustrations of these middle-class Americans such as making attempts to remove or reform politicians seen as corrupt, or making attempts to signal that American society was not in decay. This could have included programs to redevelop infrastructure in the United States, yet at the same time this would have naturally increased taxes on middle-class Americans which would have likely further angered them. As a result, one might argue that the Democratic Party was stuck between a rock and a hard place, in that if they attempted to accommodate to a given wish of middle class Americans another one of middle class America’s perceived values would be diminished. In reality, there was probably nothing that the Democratic Party could have practically done to prevent the political realignment of the era. 

Bibliography in Chicago:

  • Lewis, Penny. Hardhats, Hippies and Hawks: The Vietnam Antiwar Movement as Myth and Memory. Cornell University Press, 2013. 

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