Power of the Silent Majority

Xiaoyan Zhang, Ph.D.

July 2020

In 1980’s, most Chinese students in Pittsburgh, PA remembered the barbecue and dance parties at David Fyock’s farm. Speaking with such accurate pronunciations, all of us were pleasantly surprised when David greeted us in Chinese.  A German descendent, a college football player and a die-heart republican, David often joked with me: “You know Republican is labeled as Right. In English, right means ‘right’”

One thing I learned from David stays with me to today. When talking about politicians and American politics, he told me that “you may fool some people most of times and most people sometimes.  But you cannot fool all the people all the times”.

The point is that the truth will come out. Once it does, the majority of Americans has the integrity, intelligence and the power to set things right through a democratic process. The independent thinking and voting right of individual citizens, which are protected by the Constitution, are the corner stone of American representative democracy.

Extreme left or right is always a minority with a loud voice, even in their own parties. Both sides try to influence the silent majority in the middle and they catch momentums at different points in history. In the end, it is the swing and the level of participation from the silent majority that determines election results both at local and national levels.

While the beacon of change is needed, the collective conscience of the silence majority keeps the society stable during crises and redirects extreme movements back on track while avoiding violent alternatives. The fate of America is not in the hands of individual politicians or a specific party. It is in the hands of American citizens who are mostly members of the silent majority.

Therefore, our hope and optimism about the future of this great nation are based on the trust in the collective conscience, intelligence, and ability of individual citizens live in a free and transparent society. That is the true meaning of citizens’ rights and power: a trademark of a representative democracy.

In July 2016 I was visiting my father in Beijing right after Trump became Republican nominee for the presidential election. My Chinese friends asked me whether American democracy was in trouble because someone like Trump, who has many personal defects, was selected.

I explained to them that a democratic process does not guarantee the selection of the most moral and capable leaders who meet everyone’s expectation. Democracy provides choices; even sometime between bad and worse, so voters can select leaders by exercising their rights and voting power. American voters have given Trump the benefit of the doubt by electing him into the White House. They can also vote him out if he does not meet expectations of majority voters. This demonstrates the confidence of American people in American democracy.

People from all corners of the world come to America because of two promises: The American Spirit that “All men are created equal” and the American democracy with check and balance that enables American people to resolve racial, social, and political conflicts through a transparent, participatory, democratic, and peaceful process of evolution.

While the promises are far from fulfillment, they give us hope and light.