2016 HAS To Be Disturbing…Because 2015 Was

Peggy Noonan seems to have spoken for a lot of people in her Wall Street Journal column last week.  Here’s her title with its subtext:  “That Moment When 2016 Hits You: ‘I felt a wave of sadness,’ said one friend. This year’s politics have that effect on a lot of Americans.”  Here’s how she began the column:

Have you had your 2016 Moment? I think you probably have, or will.

The Moment is that sliver of time in which you fully realize something epochal is happening in politics, that there has never been a presidential year like 2016, and suddenly you are aware of it in a new, true and personal way. It tends to involve a poignant sense of dislocation, a knowledge that our politics have changed and won’t be going back.

And here’s how she ends it:

Because my country is in trouble.

Because I felt anguish at all the estrangements.

Because some things that shouldn’t have changed have changed.

Because too much is being lost. Because the great choice in a nation of 320 million may come down to Crazy Man versus Criminal.

And yes, I know this is all personal, and not column-ish.

But that was my Moment.

You’ll feel better the next day, I promise, but you won’t be able to tell yourself that this is history as usual anymore. This is big, what we’re living through.

Noonan and others consider 2016 a big deal, but don’t they realize that 2015 with its Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision was even bigger?  That court decision struck down a definition of marriage that had been standing throughout the entirety of human civilization.  Do people think that we’re going to choose to do  something profoundly irrational in one year and then in the next year everyone’s going to go back to being rational?  Something as fundamental to the human race as the family can’t be upset without upsetting every other realm of social relations – including politics.

Am I saying the primary voters have been making their choices about candidates with a consciousness of Obergefell v. Hodges?  No.  Every candidate in both parties has either agreed with the decision or capitulated to it.  Instead, I am saying that if people’s thinking has become irrational enough to either agree with this decision or else capitulate to it then that irrationality will show up in other decisions they make.

So, if you’re dismayed by 2016, I understand.  But if you’re surprised by it, then you must have thought that 2015 was either the right decision about marriage or else that it was a wrong decision we could put behind us and return to normal.  Neither is true.

The key sentence in Peggy Noonan’s column, though she might not have realized it, was this one:

Because some things that shouldn’t have changed have changed.

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