For four years, the left has up-ended everything that was once considered normal. An overwhelming Trump (and Republican) victory can bring normal back.
Over the past few days, when reading articles, conversing with friends, listening to podcasts, or just contemplating life, one word rings in my brain like a tocsin: “Normal.”
It’s not a very inspiring or impressive word. Like “nice,” it’s often one of those words you use when you want to damn something with faint praise. If you’re a kid in high school, you don’t want your prom date to be reduced to the words “nice” and “normal.” You want that date to be dazzling, gorgeous, popular, fun, cool, or whatever other superlatives we heap upon those things or people we desire.
But there’s a lot to be said for things that are nice and even more to be said for things that are “normal.”
One hundred years ago, there was another presidential election. It pitted Warren G. Harding, the Republican, against James M. Cox, the Democrat. Harding won with 60.3% of the electoral college votes. Cox got the South (except for Tennessee), but Harding won every other state. It was a decisive victory.
Harding’s winning slogan was “A return to normalcy.” That was what Americans desperately craved.
Although American participation in World War I was short compared to England’s and the Continental powers, that year had exposed a generation of American men to the incredible brutality of modern trench warfare. After only a year at the front, 116,516 men didn’t make it home. Those who did come home were changed both by the war experience itself and by their exposure to the wider world.
Another profoundly disruptive event was the Spanish Influenza. It started working its way through the troops the moment they were mobilized to military camps across America and then followed them to Europe. Meanwhile, it worked its way across the home front. At a guess, the flu may have killed 675,000 Americans out of a population of fewer than 106 million people, with most of the deaths taking healthy young people.
There was also tremendous socialist and anarchist ferment on the home front in the lead-up to the 1920 election. On September 16, 1920, a bomb went off on Wall Street, killing 38 people and wounding hundreds. This came on the heels of a series of bomb attacks across America by anarchists following Luigi Galleani.
Thinking about it, the parallels between now and one hundred years ago are uncanny. As in 1920, we’re heading into an election in 2020 on the heels of war (two decades of it), one epidemic disease (that politicized decision-making turned into an economic disaster), and a series of anarchist riots and terrorist attacks across America. All of which gets me back to Harding and his slogan: A return to normalcy.
While everyone likes a bit of excitement now and then, people crave the normal, especially people who care for young children or who are elderly. At least, they crave normal when normal is virtuous. In North Korea, normal is awful.
For the majority of Americans, however, normal has been a good thing. When our troops came home from WWII they craved the American normal as much as their fathers had upon their return from the first European War.
I was a child of the WWII generation (meaning that I was born after the war, but every adult in my world had experienced it, sometimes with incredible brutality), so I saw firsthand how all these adults also embraced normal. They walked out of the camps and off the battlefields, got jobs, got married, had children, and lived normal lives.
It doesn’t mean that they were necessarily all normal people. Looking back, my parents and many of their peers were deeply damaged by their experiences — but they were still creating lives of studied American normality. We boomers benefitted from it, although most of the boomers have been anything but grateful.
The same is true in the black community. Once the Republicans freed blacks from the slavery imposed upon them, they exploded into productivity. Leftists briefly obsessed about the deadly and vile Tulsa race riot in 1921 because they thought it would hurt Trump. What they didn’t note was that the Tulsa black community was an extraordinary, vibrant, and productive community only 60 years after blacks emerged from two centuries of slavery. Noting that, of course, would destroy the narrative that, 155 years after slavery ended, American blacks still can’t recover.
In fact, before the left got its tentacles into blacks with the welfare state, blacks were thriving. As Larry Elder points out in his extraordinary Uncle Tom documentary (which everyone should see), in many regions across America after WWII, blacks had more intact families (mom, dad, and kids), and faster economic growth than any other racial group. And think about the incredible creativity and growth of the Harlem Renaissance. Despite overt prejudice and the South and equally malevolent covert prejudice in the rest of America, blacks were still managing to thrive.
With welfare, though, leftists told black men that welfare was a form of reparations, so they should give up their jobs and their family should look to the government. That made men redundant, so many of them turned to fathering illegitimate children and engaging in crime to give their lives meaning and purpose, and created generational poverty with single mothers raising fatherless children. The left killed black normalcy.
One of the main differences between 1920 and 2020 is that, for the first time in American history, we have a major political party that absolutely rejects the entire notion of normal. They rejected it on racial grounds. They reject it on sex grounds. They reject it on climate grounds. They reject it on law and order grounds. They reject normal wherever it tries to take root. This is the leftist’s way of accruing power.
Andrew Sullivan looked at “the roots of wokeness,” which is the left’s vehicle for power today, and found those roots in “critical theory,” which rejects reality — including the reality of the norm or normal. He even uses the word “normal” to explain the concept:
Most normal people have never heard of this theory—or rather an interlocking web of theories—that is nonetheless changing the very words we speak and write and the very rationale of the institutions integral to liberal democracy. (Emphasis mine.)
Sullivan relies on Cynical Theories: How Activist Scholarship Made Everything About Race, Gender and Identity — an Why This Harms Everybody, by James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose. I haven’t read the book, but here’s what Sullivan has to say about critical theory and its deliberate effort to remove our nation’s ability to recognize reality and define normal:
What the book helps the layperson to understand is the evolution of postmodern thought since the 1960s until it became the doctrine of Social Justice today. Beginning as a critique of all grand theories of meaning—from Christianity to Marxism—postmodernism is a project to subvert the intellectual foundations of western culture. The entire concept of reason—whether the Enlightenment version or even the ancient Socratic understanding—is a myth designed to serve the interests of those in power, and therefore deserves to be undermined and “problematized” whenever possible. Postmodern theory does so mischievously and irreverently—even as it leaves nothing in reason’s place. The idea of objective truth—even if it is viewed as always somewhat beyond our reach—is abandoned. All we have are narratives, stories, whose meaning is entirely provisional, and can in turn be subverted or problematized.
During the 1980s and 1990s, this somewhat aimless critique of everything hardened into a plan for action. Analyzing how truth was a mere function of power, and then seeing that power used against distinct and oppressed identity groups, led to an understandable desire to do something about it, and to turn this critique into a form of activism. Lindsay and Pluckrose call this “applied postmodernism”, which, in turn, hardened into what we now know as Social Justice.
Sullivan has more to say on the subject and he’s worth reading because he’s made a stellar analysis about woke culture and intersectionality. For the purposes of this post, I’m interested only in the abandonment of objective truth.
Most people think they’re pretty clear on objective truth. When you look into your underpants, you know if you’re a boy or a girl. When you see yourself in the mirror, you know you’re a person, not a dog or a dragon. And while you recognize that your skin color may bring you closer to one racial classification than another, reality also tells you your species: You’re a human being, same as the people next to you, whether their skin is darker or lighter or their eyes narrower or rounder.
We also have the human capacity to look around and evaluate things. If you’ve learned that young black men with their pants hanging off their butts and expensive, unlaced shoes are dangerous, you avoid them. It’s not their race, it’s the choices they make about their appearance. If you saw those same young black men, neatly dressed, standing outside a church with their family, all of them holding Bibles, you wouldn’t give your safety a second thought.
We intuitively understand that the immensity of climate is far beyond human control. We can affect our local environment and climate by excessive pollution or clearance, but ultimately Nature is always bigger. For urban dwellers who are far removed from Nature, this may be hard to understand. The moment you get outside the city, though, whether you’re in a desert, on a mountain top, in a tropical jungle, or a northern forest, you realize how insignificant we are in the grander scheme of things.
This is why the left has to pound away relentlessly at the idea of Anthropogenic Climate Change. If the left lets go of the issue for even a second, it knows that the rest of us, the normal ones, will revert to the healthy norm: If we like our local environment we should take care of it (something that wealthy nations do with greater ease than poor ones) because we can affect our locale. However, whether we respect our environment or not, Nature will always come roaring through, whether with big things like earthquakes and hurricanes, or little things like cockroaches or locusts.
We intuitively understand that men and women are biological matched sets that exist to produce children. Because we have a higher intelligence than other animals, we can function beyond our biological baseline, building things, inventing things, and doing all sorts of other wondrous activities. Still, at bottom, we’re male and female who come together to make babies, same as all the other animals on earth.
We humans can also accommodate and respect the fact that, when it comes to human sexuality, there are people whose desires don’t mesh with biological imperatives. Gay men can impregnate women and lesbian can get pregnant, but they’d rather rely on science for those functions and keep the fun within their own sex. So the human range of normal comes with a bit of flexibility on the side. But it still boils down to man and woman, boy and girl, male and female. There is no “today I am a man, tomorrow I enjoy being a girl” in Nature.
Normal also means we crave peace. We will fight if we have to and, if our society is terribly out of wack, we’ll do terrible things. However, the healthy human brain wants peace and, to achieve it, understands that wrongdoers need punishment, both because it is justice as to them and their victims, and to dissuade others from doing the same. Because we are a civilized, Judeo-Christian society, though, we Americans want that punishment to come through a fair, reasoned, and reliable process that does not embrace cruelty for its own sake. When we look at screaming mobs in the street, violating all norms of law and order, we are instinctively revolted.
Both candidates promise peace. Trump promises peace by reinstating the normal, which is the rule of law. Biden promises peace by saying that, if we give the rioters, Marxists, and anarchists what they want, they’ll go away and leave us alone. He’s too demented, perhaps, to remember that appeasement has never worked in the history of all humankind, but the leftists surrounding him should and do know better. They don’t want peace. They want chaos because they see that as a path to power.
We can certainly be intelligent enough to conclude that even mobs sometimes have reasonable demands. For example, I’ve long been saying that police are not social workers and shouldn’t be asked to carry out those duties. Once Kentucky town experimented with a police-social worker partnership, and it seems to have worked. (You have to be careful, though. In California, most social workers are hard leftists and they interested more in critical race theory than in solving problems.)
Conceding that there is some reason inside the madness, though, is not the same as giving the mob what it wants. The logic of law and order — of a reliable system that protects citizens from criminals and criminals from outraged citizens — demands that society must punish those who use violence to put their ideas forward. They have the choice to use persuasion and the ballot box, not screaming, violent attacks on valuable institutions. Make the wrong choice; go to jail.
Incidentally, those screaming, violent anarchists actually look abnormal. That is, they’re not normal warriors; they have a frightening aura of mental illness hanging about them.
Anyway, I’m waffling here. I’ll just wrap up. As in 1920, the lead-up to 2020 is a world of abnormality. What’s unusual this time around is that it’s not just war, disease, and anarchists that have created the abnormal. Instead, half of our political class is working on denying reality and normalcy altogether.
The ruling class does this because the only way to convince people that socialism works is to force them to believe that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, that boys and girls are interchangeable, that violent anarchists are mostly peaceful, and every other bit of nonsense and fantasy leftists foist on us. Oh, and of course, they’re telling us that a manifestly senile old man is a fit candidate to be president of the most powerful nation in the history of the world.
Trump tried to bring normal back in his first term (borders, rule of law, foreign allies who actually like us, lower taxes, etc.) but was consistently blocked by the forces of anarchy, resistance, and downright madness. If we can get Trump returned to the White House by an overwhelming popular vote plus a huge Electoral College majority, plus giving him a Republican Congress, American can get what it truly needs: