Susan Cain‘s book on introversion, “Quiet – The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking,” has been on the New York Times bestseller list since its publication in January, obviously striking a chord not only with the many introverts downtrodden by today’s relentless extrovert culture. If I’d been wondering whether to buy a copy in order to find out what the author had found on introverts in politics, I need wonder no more, since the Washington Times review explicitly mentions that Cain (inadvertently or by design) does not refer to any notable conservative introvert.
I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt that she felt modern audiences would relate better to more recent examples of introverts on the political stage, such as Al Gore. Still, while I may still buy the book, since I find the subject riveting – as a psychologist, and as an introvert myself- I do think it is quite an omission not to mention this most retiring of presidents. After all, one biography about him is entitled “The Quiet President,” and in his excellent piece on introversion, Jonathan Rauch submits that ” (…) if we introverts ran the world, it would no doubt be a calmer, saner, more peaceful sort of place. As Coolidge is supposed to have said, “Don’t you know that four fifths of all our troubles in this life would disappear if we would just sit down and keep still?” (He is also supposed to have said, “If you don’t say anything, you won’t be called on to repeat it.” The only thing a true introvert dislikes more than talking about himself is repeating himself.)”
Calvin Coolidge, as I’ve stated often (ok, ad nauseam) in this blog, was not flashy, like for example either of the Roosevelts. While he can’t have been too bad at the political game – after all, he had an unparalleled step-by-step political career – he very likely would not have acceded to the presidency on his own, if he had not been paired on the 1920 GOP ticket with the extrovert Warren Harding. However, he did prove adept at utilizing the then new, and introvert-friendly mass medium of radio. Still, it is difficult to imagine a political candidate with Coolidge’s psychological makeup to advance very far in the circus into which politics has devolved since his day!