Peggy Noonan is akin to Christie Blatchford in Canada, in that we have at work a sharp intelligence, a genuine curiosity as to how things work, and a compassionate but undeceived eye for the foibles of human nature. I read both of them with interest, as I would intelligence agents probing reality.
Noonan’s latest is entitled “The Year of the Reticent Voter”, which explores the reticence of Trump voters to admit their intentions, not only because they fear the abuse that will be heaped upon their heads, but because they fear in part that Trump could break more china than necessary, or engage the US in an unnecessary constitutional crisis out of his ignorance of how the system works.
Every four years I ask people if they’ll vote, and if they have a sense of how. Every four years they tell me—assertively or shyly, confidently or tentatively. This year is different. I’ve never seen people so nervous to answer. It’s so unlike America, this reticence, even defensiveness. It’s as if there’s a feeling that to declare who you’re for is to invite others to inspect your soul.
I think this is true, not merely as a description, but as a genuine insight: the state of your soul will be revealed. On the one hand, a guy who has no experience in government, a one-man-band and with a taste for braggadocio, against a corrupt elitist who may not be able to manage a box of Chiclets, and who will continue the decline. These are not happy choices.
Voters who talk about 2016 are very careful to damn both sides, air their disappointment, note that they’ve been following the election closely. They know each candidate’s history.
In Tennessee I asked a smart businessman who he’s for. He carefully and at length outlined his criticisms and concerns regarding both candidates. Then, as I started to leave, he threw in, from nowhere: “So I think Trump.”….
A final observation, underlying all. Under the smiles and beyond the reticence it is clear how seriously Americans are taking their decision, how gravely. As if it’s not Tweedledum and Tweedledee but an actual choice between two vastly different dramas, two different worlds of outcome and meaning. The cynic or the screwball? Shall we go to the bad place or the crazy place?
I do not think anyone who observes is deceived here about the true nature of each candidate. Hence no one is happy with their choice. No one is voting with a clear conscience that their choice is unequivically, unambiguously the best.
Noonan’s article is worth the read, and the comments upon it are equally enlightening.