Ralph Ayers recalling a blast from the past used a reference by President Nixon in a November 3, 1969 speech in which he said, “And so tonight—to you, the great silent majority of my fellow Americans—I ask for your support.” In this usage it referred to those Americans who do not participate in public discourse.
Right now, the vast majority of adults in Newburyport are playing the silent majority.
Believe me, they are watching carefully on the LHD issue – sometimes through careful manipulation they can be fooled but more often than not if they are, they tend to not repeat their error. It is very hard sometimes to find out what the general mood is since often the final decision by many is generated by their sphere of friends and gut instinct.
So far, reading the tea leaves; this silent majority is going four to one for the LHD. But we also have to keep in mind that voters are not a monolithic block – demographics and geography are in place also. There are twelve non-historic district neighborhoods full of voters who are not necessarily surrounded by historic architecture, history and the eco and heritage tourism of our central downtown. Too often, though they enjoy being ‘Newburyporters’, they live a suburban lifestyle surrounded by modernity. Influenced by being around other suburbanites, they do not necessarily realize their quality of life is dependent on the preservation of the historic district.
They often live in homes built after World War II and more often than not post 1960.
They shop in modern grocery stores and all the modern services offered by Port Plaza and Storey Avenue.
More often than not, they only rarely visit the downtown restaurants and shops.
If they have children, they send them off to architecturally bland schools like Bresnahan and Nock with the closest historic architecture being found at the High School.
The abstract connection that keeping the historic district intact and preserved protects their property values and quality of life is not an obvious concept.
IT IS THEY WHO THE ANTI-HISTORIC PRESERVATION GROUP IS LARGELY TRYING TO INFLUENCE.
If our City is to be saved, we must reach out aggressively and explain to them how important historic preservation is for the future of Newburyport.
And that effort goes for so many here inside the historic district who are also silent but are watching and learning.
PS. It is rather exciting watching daily how many are adding their names to History.