September 13, 2019

The New Normalcy

Thanks to Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice-President, Joe Biden, the word normalcy has enjoyed a new currency as politics turns more to semantics to attract voters and additional donors. While the correct noun form of the word normal is normality, it is noteworthy that this word was first used in political propaganda by Republican presidential candidate, Warren G. Harding. It was, according to his detractors, a malapropism.  

There was contemporary discussion and evidence found that normalcy had been listed in dictionaries as far back as 1857. Harding’s promise was to return the United States to a pre-world war mentality, without the thought of war tainting the minds of the American people. For eight insufferable years the country had suffered through the visionary dreams of its Progressive president, Woodrow Wilson, who not only disdained American Republican form of government but wished to unrealistically embroil it in an international system of peace-loving nations that would institutionalize peace and remove war from the face of the earth forever.

Harding would change all that. He believed “America’s present need was not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality,” to sum up his points.

But the real player in this new debate, is still the long shadow of former president, Barack Obama. After several years of a stagnant economy, high unemployment and the longest recession in history, it was Obama who gave a pep talk to his millions of his minions, urging them to stoically accept the new normal. In other words, frequent terrorist attacks, airport indignities, 40 million on food stamps, huge deficits, slow growth, high taxes, increased crime and a national division that was not only the status quo, but the picture of life to come in America.

I would add to this that the new normal includes an embedded establishment of abortion rights, more sexual confusion, elimination of mental illness as a factor in cultural decline, low marriage rates, increased political correctness and the virtual elimination of public religious practices.

But then along came Trump and his threat to what might be called the new normalcy, in honor of President Harding, and the established fiefdoms of Democrats and Republican leaders and bureaucrats alike. While these Seigneurs strum their lyres, our cities collapse and burn and our culture vaporizes on the inhalation of its toxic culture, Obama’s normalcy will reign until America ceases to exist. He wants to make America great again, not maintain the normality of defeat and acceptance of economic and international defeat.

Like Trump before him, Biden is offering a politics of nostalgia. But nostalgia is a powerful force. Joe Biden isn’t promising a political revolution, like the gaggle of other Democratic candidates. He’s not promising to drain the swamp, restructure the Senate, remake capitalism, or usher in socialism.  

Political activists and pundits are attracted to grand visions. They — we — want to make politics bigger. Biden is proposing is to make politics smaller. His is not a politics of transformative policies and grand visions. His is a politics of pragmatism, of infrastructure bills and tax credits and investments in green energy. His is a politics of getting done what you can get done under the political system as it exists today, not changing the political system so more becomes possible. 

Biden doesn’t have a plan to heal American politics. His answer to the divisiveness of the Trump years is to replace Trump in the White House. His answer to the divisiveness of the Obama years is no answer at all. What Biden is promising is a return to Obama’s normalcy, to a toxic wine of despair in a brand new sematic wineskin.

But the bottom line is that on cultural issues and left-leaning economic and international policies, Biden’s solutions and his promises are in essence warmed-over Obamaism. If elected, Biden will do everything to dismantle the progress that Trump has made on abortion, the economy and foreign relations. A return to the disaster of 2009-2017 would be cataclysmic. In the 2020 presidential race, that will most likely be the real political choice.

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Written by
William Borst

WILLIAM A. BORST has taught at virtually all levels of education from elementary school through university, published commentaries in many local and national publications, and hosted a weekly talk show on WGNU radio for 22 years. Having recently served as editor of the Mindszenty Report, Dr. Borst is the author of two prominent books: Liberalism: Fatal Consequences (1999) and The Scorpion and the Frog: A Natural Conspiracy (2005). He holds a PhD in American History from St. Louis University.

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Written by William Borst
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