October 30, 2016

PEGGY NOONAN: The Great Disappointment Of 2016:

What I’m thinking about this week is a focus group led by Peter Hart, the veteran Democratic pollster, Tuesday night, in Charlotte, N.C., still a toss-up state. Present were a dozen late-decider voters, three Democrats, six Republicans and three independents.

What struck me about the group wasn’t its new insights, which were few. What was powerful was its averageness, its confirmation of what you’ve already observed. The members weren’t sad, precisely, but they were unillusioned. They were seeing things with clean eyes and they were disappointed. They wanted a candidate they could trust and believe in.

Which when you think about it shouldn’t be too much to ask.

Raise your hand, said Mr. Hart, if you like both candidates. No one did. Raise your hand if you like one candidate. No one did. Raise if you don’t like either. All 12 did. . . .

Mr. Hart asked: Will the next generation be better off? No one raised a hand. This is not news; it’s been a cliché since the crash of 2008. You get used to the data: Americans no longer assume their children will have it better than they did. But it was striking to see these dozen thoughtful people keep their hands down.

Asked what has been lost in America, one respondent said security for kids: “They can’t just go out and play.” “Innocence for kids,” said another. Parents no longer feel the world, even the immediate one, is a safe place.

What is missing in America? “A freshness,” said a middle aged man. He went on to speak of the 1950s, “Ozzie and Harriet,” when things seemed newer somehow and assumptive of progress.

Is America off track? They all nodded.

We’ve been fundamentally transformed.

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