Richard Nixon played upon the growing resentments of “regular Joes” across the country. He defined this target audience as a great “silent majority,” and rallied them to his cause by railing against the elites, not the least of which were anti-war college students and professors with draft deferments. Nixon cheered in 1970 when construction workers brutally attacked peace protesters in New York. “Thank God for the hard hats!” he said. He was so successful that he rode his silent majority to electoral victories in 1968 and again in 1972.
Nixon’s political and social maneuvering was masterful, Machiavelli would have been impressed. His scheming led to wins in two presidential elections but in so doing he created a deep rift in American society that persists to this day, polarizing the United States. But Nixon didn’t dream all of these tactics up on his own. He didn’t have to look far to find the prototype for his winning strategy. It was right there in front of him, devised by another California Republican, a lesser known personality to the nation at the time, but that would change….