What is a movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s that challenged the liberal consensus?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would say that the asserted view or rise of the silent majority would constitute one particular movement that challenged the liberal consensus.  Nixon's "Silent Majority" speech was targeted at the majority of Americans that silently supported American actions in Vietnam.  Yet, Nixon understood clearly that this contingent and section of Americans were large enough, or could be tapped into enough, to form a movement that would challenge the liberal consensus.  Nixon and his operatives were able to categorize this movement of people with terms like "law and order" preservers and talk of unity as opposed to social fragmentation.  Like much of the Nixonian legend, the silent majority became code for something larger.  It was a movement of working class and middle class Americans that felt that there was a significant erosion of what it meant to be American.  This movement was driven by a desire for consensus and an almost exceptionalist view of America in the midst of the conflict narratives that emerged on racial, gender, and economic fronts.  The "silent majority" was a movement that might have even been beyond Nixonian politics, even though he defined it.  The rise of this movement did much to stunt the advancement of the agenda of those who were driven by Civil Rights.  This silent majority rose in the last 1960s and into the 1970s.  I think that a real good argument can be made that they might have been dissatisfied throughout the decade.  Yet, the election of President Reagan in 1980 might have been the strongest demonstration of the silent majority actually speaking out, as an overwhelming majority of voters, including the "lunch pail Democrats," flexed their muscle with the election of Reagan for two terms.  This movement became cohesive with the silent majority movement that arose in the late 1960s and into the 1970s and challenged the liberal consensus.

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