Children of the Silent Majority: Young Voters and the Rise of the Republican Party, 1968–1980

Seth Blumenthal. Univ. of Kansas, $39.95 (360p) ISBN 978-0-7006-2701-1
Blumenthal, a historian and lecturer at Boston University, offers a ground-level look at the Republican party’s efforts to court the youth vote beginning in 1968 and ending with Reagan’s 1980 election. Blumenthal notes that the youth vote became an increasingly important electoral battleground with the 1971 passage of the 26th Amendment, which gave millions of 18-year-olds the vote. Citing the youth campaign as a factor in Nixon’s landslide 1972 election victory (although he did not win a majority of voters in that group), Blumenthal argues that tactics adopted by the Nixon campaign based on celebrity, image, and media presaged modern campaigns. He also credits a strategic deployment of young voters with softening Republican candidates’ images, making them more acceptable to the electorate at large. Blumenthal makes frequent use of the voices of campaign participants, including Republican strategist Karl Rove and current eye-of-the-storm political figure Paul Manafort. Less convincingly, he repeatedly uses quotes attributed anonymously to “one nonregistered 18-year-old,” “one J.C. Penney executive,” and the like to bolster his arguments. And Blumenthal touches so lightly on issues not directly connected to Republican youth voters—among them Nixon’s Southern Strategy and the role of identity politics—that readers may question the centrality he assigns to the youth campaigns. Political junkies will find Blumenthal’s study interesting, although not always persuasive. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/12/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 360 pages - 978-0-7006-2702-8
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