Feature 03.15.2022 6 minutes

No New Normal


The Right is the only political home for anyone who wants to live in reality.

This presidency was supposed to be so normal. Watching Joe Biden’s inauguration, Washington Post columnist Max Boot “could not help but recall Warren G. Harding’s 1920 campaign slogan: ‘Return to normalcy.’” As Biden introduced his cabinet to the world, Steve Benen of MSNBC was “struck by how normal the choices are.” By April, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post was relieved to find that “there are days when the new administration is so radically normal that it’s actually kind of boring.” With Bad Orange Man gone for good, everything was fine and good and most of all, normal, normal, normal.

And of course, one year in, it’s going great. Record inflation? Normal. Medical intervention via federal bureaucracy? Extremely normal. Nationally endorsed sexual predation in prisons and schools? The normalest. Cheerleading a new world war to change a nuclear power’s regime is normal; so are supply chain crises. It is also very, very normal for food and fuel to be prohibitively expensive. So that’s reassuring.

In 1920, World War I and the Spanish flu pandemic had left weary Americans desperate to believe that the dust would settle soon. So they elected Harding, who proceeded to die while in office. That was very normal, as was the second world war. Neither cardiac failure nor the annexation of the Sudetenland was Harding’s fault. And Americans could be forgiven for wanting peace and quiet. But neither peace nor quiet was forthcoming.

They are not forthcoming now, either. Biden took office after a year of punitive COVID lockdowns, riotous civil unrest, and hysterical partisan tension—a mess of turmoil which the Democrat Party either created or encouraged. Under such circumstances, a promise of normalcy is not a political platform: it is a hostage situation.

So the present administration has done plenty to make things worse. But “normalcy”—by which Harding really meant stability and prosperity—would be no guarantee in 2022 even under better leadership. No one can promise uninterrupted ease today, any more than Harding could a hundred years ago. In the scope of human history, long-term tranquility is in fact very abnormal. And though Americans are capable of weathering any storm, the fact remains that storms will come.

Digital technology has only begun to restructure the way we work, think, and relate to one another. Our form of government has been undermined for generations by progressive radicals who propose to warp our understanding of right and wrong, true and false. And foreign civilizations, hostile or indifferent to our way of life and emboldened by our reigning ideology of decadence and delusion, are seeking more control of the globe.

In the face of these challenges, we cannot seek a return to “normalcy.” We will not get out of this by grasping at some dim mirage of days gone by—if the Biden fiasco has taught us anything, it should have taught us that much. Normalcy under Biden is a watchword for quietism. It means consent to indulge in the civic theater of better days, cooing fondly about sounding presidential while our actual situation deteriorates rapidly by every available measure.

Instead, what the Right needs to win is a return to reality. Indeed, the effort to control what counts as “normal” is really an effort to obscure or obliterate the basic facts of reality. When headlines announce “the radical normalcy of a trans ‘Jeopardy!’ winner” and “the radical normalcy of trans youth,” the point is to force outlandish fantasies into the public eye and manufacture consent for those fantasies on pain of condemnation or ostracization. We are being asked to believe that we already agreed long ago to play pretend.

This collection of articles features writers who prefer to live in reality. There is no other criterion for inclusion: contributors are not necessarily lifelong conservatives, or dyed-in-the-wool ideologues. They are simply people who would rather face reality, and address the problems it presents, than assent comfortably to the imaginary world of pretended normalcy.

In reality, the human species has two sexes: male and female. This is a good thing. We ought to delight in the relation between men and women, using technology to strengthen our bonds and our families rather than to compromise or distort the natural boundaries of our bodies.

In reality, race is not the ultimate fact of human identity or the central problem of American life. Different ethnic populations have different general tendencies, but not different natural rights. Everyone is capable of learning to live well in this country, but only if we confidently endorse both our geographical and cultural boundaries.

In reality, people trade things that have value to them. It is healthy and noble to love and care for what is your own—your own property, your own family, your own country. Total federal control over resources of any kind, digital currency included, is an affront to our God-given natural rights.

In reality, small children are not fit objects of sexual instruction. Young Americans have a right to mature without being subject to lurid displays of kink for the gratification of adults. Except in extreme cases of abuse or neglect, parents have sole jurisdiction to determine and administer age-appropriate sex education.

And in reality, disease is factor in human life—not a god over it. Adults should protect their families as they see fit. Reasonable minds may differ about appropriate measures. But man was not made for lockdown, and the state is not your doctor.

This is not a party platform: it is simply an outline of basic facts from which any serious party platform must proceed. Reality, for all its flaws, is a good thing—far better than the denatured metaverse into which our technologists would like to shunt us. As American politics takes new shape in the 21st century, it is becoming clear that the most fundamental divide is between those who wish to deal with reality as-is, and those who cling to the hope that we can close our eyes and lie our way to normalcy.

Many Americans have been yoked without their consent to a Democratic Party bent on muscling the world into an utterly new form. Women have suffered abuse and scorn for resisting male intrusion in their bathrooms and bedrooms. Hispanics and other minorities have begun to chafe at being used as props in an endless racial psychodrama. And parents have been shocked to see their children claimed as unconditional wards of a hostile state.

As these conditions become increasingly apparent, many lifelong leftists will be forced to reconsider their affiliation with a movement that presumes to remake the country and the world. The Democratic Party takes for granted that its favored demographic groups will simply come along for the ride. But reality has a way of making itself felt, especially in times of crisis. In this feature, we offer a way forward for anyone, of any affiliation and walk of life, who wants to rise and meet reality head-on.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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