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Richard Nixon really, really wanted the American people to support his new policies for the Vietnam War.
And to get this support, he calls on America's "great silent majority" to have his back. These silent folks—the conservative voter base—were his people, after all. Sure, they weren't out there defining the culture of the 1960s (that's where the whole "silent" part comes in), but they existed, and they are the people to whom Nixon is directly speaking.
Throughout this speech, though, Nixon totally trolls everyone else who doesn't think like him. Anti-war protesters? Hippie counterculture? Nah, Nixon doesn't want their support. He wants them to sit down and shut up.
By appealing to America's "great silent majority," Nixon does more to unite the country for peace than all of the peace-loving hippies, anti-war protestors, and Grateful Dead festivals combined. After the speech, Nixon's approval rating skyrocketed and so did the country's sense of purpose. The Vietnam War never would have come to an end without his and the country's more unified support.
This speech is "Tricky Dick" Nixon at his finest…or worst. Nixon gives the illusion of uniting the "great silent majority," but he is in fact trying to shut out the anti-war and hippie movements. This is just one of many examples of deceit that came to define the Nixon era.
An already sticky situation gets even stickier as more and more American troops join the Vietnam War. We're talking pre-chewed gum mixed with tree sap laced with white school glue imbued with hairspray on top of a caramel apple kind of sticky situation.
Nixon wants America to know that he's a man with a plan. A plan for Vietnam. But he needs the country's support. He doesn't want to ask the American people to support his new vision with a "pretty please with sugar on top." No, he wants those in the "great silent majority" to back him up and to help him get those annoying anti-war protestors off his back.
Richard Nixon tells the hippie and anti-war crowds to cut their hair, go out and get jobs, and let the real Americans—those in the "great silent majority"—decide what's best for the Vietnam War.