Is there a Silent Majority in the United States and, if so, do they have a seat at the table of power?

President Reagan often talked of the silent majority as if he were its voice—like the Pope for the Catholics— but I think that was far from the truth. In this post, I’m going to reveal who that silent majority might be. But first, let’s eliminate the tea party people, who are not silent, because over time, various polls have found that slightly over 10% of Americans identify as a member of the tea party.

There are several groups that rule America, and they are not all in the Congress, the White House or the Supreme Court. Some are billionaires—for instance: the meddling Bill Gates, the Koch brothers, the Walton family, and Eli Broad along with a few other fools with too much wealth.

Then there are the citizens who vote, because they are a powerful force too. The popular vote may not elect the President of the U.S. or the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court but they do elect—for instance—the members of Congress, governors, mayors, state legislatures and public school boards in almost 14,000 school districts.

In the late 18th century, the Founding Fathers of the United States didn’t set up a democracy where every citizen could vote. In fact, the Founding Father were afraid of mob rule, and only allowed about 10% of the citizens to vote. When the Constitution was written, only white-male property owners (about 10 to 16 percent of the nation’s population) had the vote.

By 1850, almost all adult white males could vote, and in 1870, the 15th Amendment gave former black male slaves the right to vote.

Then in 1920, the 19th Amendment gave women the vote.

Along the way, there were attempts to limit who could vote through poll taxes and/or literacy tests—aimed at minority men, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some states are still attempting to do this, but people who can’t pass literacy tests are not the silent majority I’m talking about.

From the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press we learn that only 35 percent of the adult population votes regularly. Another 20 percent votes intermittingly, and 23 percent of registered voters rarely vote while twenty-two percent are not registered.

I’m going to focus on the regular voters, because they have the power to decide who wins most elections in the United States.

Twenty-eight percent, who were high school grads or less, are regular voters—meaning 72 percent are not. Then 38 percent of those who have some college are regular voters in addition to 46 percent of college graduates.

Did you notice that when it comes to voting, a large gap separates those with low literacy skills from those with higher literacy skills?

The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2003, 31 percent of college graduates read at the highest proficient literacy level and 53 percent read at the next highest intermediate level. Intermediate indicates skills necessary to perform moderately challenging literacy activities. Proficient indicates skills necessary to perform more complex and challenging literacy activities.

Together, this reveals that 84 percent of college graduates read at a high level of literacy and as you saw earlier in a previous paragraph, they also vote in dramatically higher numbers.

When we look closer at the high school (HS) graduates and dropouts, we discover that 48 percent of HS graduates read at intermediate or above, while only 17 percent of HS dropouts do. (NCES.ed.gov). I think it is arguable that the majority of this group with only HS degrees, that votes regularly, are also more literate than those who don’t vote.

If we boil all of these numbers down, who represents the largest, most powerful regular voting bloc in America?

In 2013, there were 242.4 million adults in the U.S., and if only 35 percent are regular voters, which means 85 million American citizens age 18+ belong to that group, and more than 62 million of those regular voters have some college or are college graduates. In that block of voters, almost 53 million read at high literacy levels, and it is arguable that they are harder to fool with cherry picked lies, because they are more likely to have the skills and knowledge necessary to turn to sites like Vote Smart, Fact Check.org, or Snopes.com to discover who is lying to them, and then vote accordingly. Actually, I use all three and a few more.

Among regular voters, that block of 53 million represents 62 percent, and all that’s needed is a simple majority to swing elections to decide who ends up in Congress, governors’ mansions, state legislatures and school boards. If we add a few million more highly literate readers from the HS only crowd, that number of more informed voters could be much higher.

Simply, the more you read, the better informed you might be and according to the Pew Research Internet Project, 62 percent of high school grads or less read at least one book in the past year compared to 83 percent of those with some college and 88 percent of college graduates.

In addition, adults with some college or college graduates read more e-books (77 percent) compared to those with a high school education or less at 14 percent revealing that those who have more education with higher literacy levels spend more time on the internet. In fact, 45 percent of adults with some college or who were college graduates are frequent readers compared to HS grads or drop outs at 12 percent. (The General Reading Habits of Americans)

Once informed of the facts that reveal the truth of an issue, it will be this group of regular voters who could easily change the political climate of America for the better and limit the power of the loud 10 percent that belong to the tea party, and the billionaire oligarchs like Bill Gates and the Koch brothers.

For certain, it’s clear that small groups with agendas that will hurt the majority of Americans in the long run don’t want this group of regular, literate voters to become informed. Because they are more difficult to fool, it’s this block of regular voters that the United States must depend on to preserve the people’s freedom.

In conclusion, the silent majority of regular voters in the United States is highly educated and likes to read, and even if they don’t know it, they have a seat at the table of power, because the fate of most elected officials is in their hands. Imagine the power this group would have if they organized.

UPDATE on 7-11-2014 @ 12:20 PM PST

In another forum where I mentioned this post, I got this comment:

Unfortunately Lloyd, literate, well-educated over 65s, in the 2012 elections voted overwhelming for Republicans, see Alliance for Retired Americans website .. We have been doing a poor job .. Too much of what we do is defensive .. Too much is tearing down rather than leading .. What is our message?

Here’s my reply:

While it is true that the majorly of tea party thinking Americans are well educated, they are also mostly older men. How many college educated are in this group?

I’m talking about all highly literate Americans age 18+ who have some college or are college graduates. The men over 65 who think tea party poop are a small segment of that group.

“In 2011, the percentage of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 with a two- or four-year college degree was 38.7 percent. This is an increase from last year’s report; in 2010, the attainment rate was 38.3 percent. Overall, the U.S. attainment rate has been increasing slowly but steadily; in 2008, it was 37.9 percent, and in 2009 it was 38.1 percent. …

“In 2011, 45 percent of women between the ages of 25 and 64 held a two- or four-year college degree, compared to 40 percent of men.”

http://www.luminafoundation.org/stronger_nation/report/main-narrative.html

In fact, people age 65 and over only make up 14.1% of the population and persons under 18 make up 23.3%. That leaves 197.8 million (62.6 percent) who are between 18 to 64. In addition—3.08% of those people over the age of 65 have some college while only 2.86% have BA or better college degrees and that leaves 8.15% of this age group with a high school desgree or less.

http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p20-566.pdf

Let’s crunch the numbers:

About 75 million between ages of 25 – 64 have some college or have college degrees compared to 2.56 million over age 65 who have some college or a college degree.  The over-the-hill tea party gang is severely outnumbered by the silent majority I’m talking about.

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).

His third book is Crazy is Normal, a classroom exposé, a memoir. “Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.” – Bruce Reeves

lloydlofthouse_crazyisnormal_web2_5

Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy. His short story A Night at the “Well of Purity” was named a finalist of the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. His wife is Anchee Min, the international, best-selling, award winning author of Red Azalea, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year (1992).

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3 thoughts on “Is there a Silent Majority in the United States and, if so, do they have a seat at the table of power?

  1. How soon we forget. It was Spiro Agnew who invented the silent majority and I remember writing letters to the newspaper at the time objecting to being dumped into that particular heap — especially because silence was being construed as agreement. Which it most assuredly was NOT. But we never learn, do we.

    Despite often being silent because frankly, I’ve got a lot on my plate and little patience and energy for politics at this point in my life, I don’t think you safe places at the table unless the parties involved have sent an RSVP.

    • With 50 million people in this group, we arrive heavily armed and sit where we want at the table. Then the people we elected and the foolish wrong–headed billionaires who are out to destroy the environment for more money and ruin the quality of life for the rest of us will be told they better listen or else.

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