The normal can be a relative term. My normal isn’t your normal, though we probably share general similarities of work and family. It’s the specifics that differ.
For others, the normal is unbelievable. Mike Tyson in Undisputed Truth, described his normal day as an 8 year-old:
“We’d go to school, eat breakfast, and then we’d get on the bus and train and start robbing during school hours.”
Tyson’s autobiography – a fascinating read of his life as a fighter, a heartbreaking read of his youth – touches on the concept of “baseline normal” when he discusses the counseling he received later in life. This concept of baseline normal matters to all of us, and to Tyson specifically, because what we experience when young (whether “love, attention, neglect, deprivation or violence”) becomes what we consider to be “normal and often accept[ed] without question” as an adult.
Tyson had baseline normal of neglect, violence, sex, criminal activity, and abandonment at a young age. Suddenly, when he gets married and has a relatively stable life, that was abnormal and he had to find his “normal” through drugs and sex and violence. A return to normalcy.
Conservatives for Normalcy
We’ve had our own return to “normalcy” post-Trump. In fact, getting back to “normalcy” was one of the biggest Never-Trump arguments against Trump – and for Biden. Retired Navy Admiral William McRaven said that we needed a leader who would restore civility and “stand up to tyranny.” The normalcy of America to fight wars everywhere in the world.
Michael Gerson, a George W. Bush policy advisor speechwriter who was responsible for some of the most egregious propaganda that got us into the Iraq War, argued that conservative support for Biden was necessary because “the restoration of institutions often requires the knowledge and skills of an insider.”
A restoration of institutional normal. Restoration to what, though?
The institutions were damaged by the institutions well before Donald Trump became president. The FBI and CIA were disgraced by 9/11. The FBI and CIA were further humiliated by the intelligence failures leading up to the Iraq War. Hillary Clinton’s State Department was self-dealing. Back in 2015, Dr. Larry Nassar (of USA Olympics) was under FBI investigation for sexual abuse of minor children. The FBI and local US Attorney’s Office did nothing to prevent Dr. Nassar from continuing “to have access to girls and young women” at Michigan State University, a local gymnastics gym, and a nearby high school.
Finally, as we’ve written about ad nauseam, the FBI broke laws and lied to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in its efforts to spy on the Trump Campaign.
The hits kept coming during the campaign. The unlikeable Michael Steele, a former Republican National Committee chairman and somewhat frequent guest of MSNBC, wrote that the Republican Party, through Trump, had “stopped pursuing its animating principles of freedom and opportunity.” To Steele, the 2020 election wasn’t about “issues or policies” but rather about the character of a “people in the leader they choose.”
Before Steele was railing against the Republican party on MSNBC, he made a name for himself by subjecting the RNC to his poor leadership. (Steele and the RNC might have deserved each other, but the American people deserved neither.) He wasn’t always so anti-policy.
Previously, he was so concerned about “issues” and “policies” that he wrote a book about how the Obama/Biden Administration’s policies were a threat to end America. According to Steele, Obama and Biden had delivered: “unprecedented government borrowing and spending, unsustainable debt, and audacious attempts to usher in a colossal, overbearing government, the likes of which we’ve never seen.” He continued:
Steele has never renounced this position to my knowledge. In fact, it’s on his website. Maybe Steele’s next book will be about a failed politico’s warnings of dangerous public policy and his love for a candidate who supported those same policies. It could be an autobiography.
I could go on and list more neo-conservatives and Republicans who voiced similar support for Biden, but we only have enough time. I hope you get the point.
How do we define “normal” as a nation? I think that’s probably too broad of a question.
The better question is this: how do we describe the “baseline normal” of US politics?
A couple answers. First, “baseline normal” wasn’t Trump (though the 2017 tax cuts were very normal).
Second, according to the Never Trump conservatives I cited above, normalcy is platitudes and cliché. It’s “healing our nation” and “respecting our allies” and “standing up to tyranny.” In other words, a return to politics before Trump.
And what was presidential (or political) normalcy before Trump? Insanity.
By insanity I mean policies that were doomed to fail from the outset. Presidents and politicians that said the right words while enacting policies that made their donors rich, killed our troops, and left Americans to deal with the devastating consequences, including:
A corrupt financial system that destroyed the middle class. Socialism for the bankers and capitalism for the rest of you.
Late term and taxpayer supported abortion.
A reckless foreign policy that has left hundreds of thousands dead and uses American troops as pawns to justify vague and ambitious US “national security interests.”
Never-ending wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
State-approved discrimination on the basis of race.
Immigration undercutting the wages of American labor.
An unchecked opioid epidemic
Rising healthcare costs and rising health insurance premiums.
A Return to Normalcy = Washington as Usual
That insanity was their baseline normal. Perhaps that’s why many “elite” conservatives (a title not earned by accomplishment but given through power or access) and politicians felt the disruption of Trump’s policies, accomplishments, and rhetoric. The policies were disconcerting because any Trump success exposed their own failures. How does a real estate tycoon defeat ISIS when the experts couldn’t?
Trump’s rhetoric was especially jarring because they were the accused. They live in the fake world of “nice,” where public statements are supposed to disguise private thoughts. A land where they could pay lip service to the middle class, while enriching themselves and sending jobs overseas. The fraud was up - for a time.
Unfortunately, the normalcy these conservatives asked for is here and it came good and quick. It has been approximately 50 days into the Biden Administration and normal is back. Biden’s accomplishments and plans include:
January 20: Biden cancels the Keystone XL Pipeline.
January 20: Biden signs an Executive Order on “Advancing Racial Equity,” setting out an “ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda.”
January 20: Biden signs an Executive Order stating that gender identity is protected under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, thus solidifying the Biden Administration’s position that preventing athletes from participating in a sport as dictated by their gender identity is unlawful. This Biden Executive Order will eviscerate state-level differences in participation in sports based on gender-identity.
January 28: Biden signs an Executive Order allowing for US aid for abortion providers.
February 3: Biden DOJ drops lawsuit against Yale for admissions practices that discriminated against prospective Asian and White students. This was done despite a long DOJ investigation, including a review of years of records and numerous interview, that led authorities to conclude that Yale had violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
February 6: Just over two weeks into the Biden Presidency, the New York Times announces that “President Biden’s first immigration crisis has already begun.”
February 16: Biden backs citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants.
February 24: The Biden DOJ withdraws government support for a Connecticut lawsuit “that seeks to ban [male-to-female] transgender athletes from participating in girls’ high school sports.”
February 25: US Airstrike in eastern Syria.
March 4: Biden expresses his support for H.R. 1 (the For the People Act of 2021), a potentially unconstitutional federal takeover of elections. Not restricted to voting issues, this law would end anonymity in many political ads and chill free speech.
March 7: Democrats in the US Senate pass a $1.9 trillion stimulus package. It goes back to the House for approval before Biden’s eventual signature.
Be careful what you promise - and be more careful what you ask for.
Never Trump conservatives promised character and decency would be restored to the White House. We’ve seen equality sacrificed for equity. They said our institutions would be restored. Instead, the institutions have approved race-based discrimination in higher education. They said we would get empathy, that Biden’s personal losses would help him understand our grief. Tell the girls losing track races to their transgender opponents that Biden feels their pain.
Pro-life groups that backed Biden are starting to feel the normalcy. For example, the group Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden supported his candidacy with the understanding the Administration would engage them on abortion and the possible prevention of taxpayer funding for abortion. They recently issued a statement expressing their disappointment in the Biden Administration’s position on abortion, saying they felt “used and betrayed” and misled.
The mistake the Biden conservatives made was confusing normalcy for good. Remember, normal and moral can be opposed - they’re measured by different rulers. So pardon my lack of sympathy, especially for the Evangelicals for Biden. If only support for abortion could indicate the broader morality of a candidate. (Can we still pose such thoughts?)
What I mean is this: Despite any appearance of normalcy, don’t be surprised if the candidate of death is an enemy of the truth. That statement has a lot to do with character, but it - like everything else - has even more to do with the Truth.
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