Biden, Trump, and the New Normal

 

Politicians love fighting the last battle. Every four years, we see a slew of candidates relitigating the last presidential race, often using the same strategy that lost the previous time.

This trend is dominant in 2019 with the rise of Biden’s candidacy and the continuing rear-guard battle by anti-Trump Republicans. Joe’s main message is a return to the supposed normalcy of 2008-2016. “Know what I was most proud of?” Joe said Wednesday, “For eight years, there wasn’t one single hint of a scandal or a lie.”

Hey, there’s a lie right there. Has it never occurred to him that the Obama years are what created Trump?

Meanwhile, a handful of institutional Republicans are pushing their own return to normalcy. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan or former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld will save the GOP with center-left branding and Acela-approved personalities.

Washington sophisticates, and the DC press corps in particular, are deeply parochial. Trump didn’t create worldwide skepticism about globalism, resentment of sinecured elites, or frustration with an out-of-touch cultural vanguard. He merely rode them to power.

Politicians and pundits can disagree with this populist trend, but it’s electorally suicidal to ignore it. As I note in USA Today, one look around the globe shows that, in many ways, Trump is the new normal.

Five months before Trump’s election, UK voters chose to leave the European Union, leaving London’s political class as alarmed as D.C.’s was that November. The British government still hasn’t gotten around to implementing Brexit, but instead insulted the “short-sighted” polity for daring to cross their betters.

In retaliation, voters returned to the polls last month for the European Parliamentary elections. Nigel Farage’s brand-new Brexit Party won the most seats, dominating all of Wales and England, with the notable exception of London itself. Two years of posh elites ridiculing Brexiteers (and a month of dumping milkshakes on Farage) backfired badly.

Less than a week before the UK election, Australians snubbed their own elites. Polls pointed to an easy Labor victory, and the political class derided conservative prime minister Scott Morrison for being an out-of-the-closet Pentecostal Christian.

The characterization of Morrison and his supporters as racist, homophobic, anti-science snake-handlers backfired just as Hillary’s “deplorables” crack did in the U.S. Morrison’s party gained seats in Parliament, leaving him in a stronger position than ever…

Brazilian voters chose conservative gadfly Jair Bolsonaro to clean up the endemic corruption in Brasilia and the violence in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte won his election promising – and delivering – a brutal war against drug dealers and users.

Viktor Orbán in Hungary and the Law and Justice party in Poland continue their nations’ rightward push seasoned with a strong dose of Christian traditionalism.

Paris has been consumed with chaotic “Gilets Jaunes” protests due to a planned fuel tax, as Marine Le Pen’s nationalist party took the lion’s share of last week’s EU votes.

The far-right in Italy did the same with the anti-immigration Lega Party winning the same percentage of votes that the Brexit Party did in the UK.

Simply put, there is no going back to the way things were. Biden can’t recreate the frustration with the Iraq War and housing bubble collapse of 2008 that elected Obama.

Likewise, GOP voices (notably championed by The Bulwark) can’t drag the party back to the post-Clinton consensus. Their strategy of naming and shaming pro-Trump conservatives intends to recreate a dead gatekeeper role for allowable political conversation. They’re propping up a gate when the fence around it was torn down years ago.

If anyone wants to oust Trump in 2020 or his heirs in 2024, they first have to address why voters are furious at their supposed betters and create a better solution. Mocking the electorate will only fuel the resentment and ensure more Brexits and Morrisons and Trumps.

Not that they’ll learn. It’s more fun to toss milkshakes and inflate giant Trump balloons than to listen.

Published in Elections, Politics
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There are 22 comments.

  1. Basil Fawlty Member

    Steyn it, brother!

    • #1
    • June 12, 2019, at 4:00 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  2. Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… Thatcher

    “Know what I was most proud of?” Joe said Wednesday, “For eight years, there wasn’t one single hint of a scandal or a lie.”

    If you like your insurance plan you can keep it.

    If you like your doctors you can keep them.

    You’ll save $2500 a year on your insurance.

    • #2
    • June 12, 2019, at 4:13 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: they first have to address why voters are furious at their supposed betters and create a better solution. Mocking the electorate will only fuel the resentment and ensure more Brexits and Morrisons and Trumps.

    They don’t care. They are too busy despising us. They hate us with a passion. I hear the contempt coming from Jpod, Mona, JNord. We are the enemy for not signing on to the train. That feeds them. That is not even getting to Krystol who wants to replace us with immigrants. 

    I am tired of people who clearly hate me for disagreement tell me how bad I am on the left. For three years now I hear it from people on the right. 

    They will never be a voice for me again.

    • #3
    • June 12, 2019, at 4:32 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I have no doubt that we will never go back to the way things were. In a way, that is a good thing. I’m just a bit anxious about what things will look like even six years from now. Another “new normal”?

    • #4
    • June 12, 2019, at 4:48 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  5. Percival Thatcher

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Likewise, GOP voices (notably championed by The Bulwark) can’t drag the party back to the post-Clinton consensus.

    Their definition of “consensus” resembles the Democrats’ definition of “bipartisan”: they get what they want even if what they want is a clueless stiff of a candidate (e. g. Mitt Romney).

    Their strategy of naming and shaming pro-Trump conservatives intends to recreate a dead gatekeeper role for allowable political conversation. They’re propping up a gate when the fence around it was torn down years ago.

    • #5
    • June 12, 2019, at 5:18 PM PDT
    • 21 likes
  6. Western Chauvinist Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I have no doubt that we will never go back to the way things were. In a way, that is a good thing. I’m just a bit anxious about what things will look like even six years from now. Another “new normal”?

    I think we’d be incredibly lucky to find another Trump to run. Someone outside politics with lots of money (so he can’t be bought and sold) who relates to Normal Americans and wants us to win. It would be a miracle.

    I’m very pessimistic about the next president, whether we replace Trump next year or in 2024. 

    • #6
    • June 12, 2019, at 5:22 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  7. WI Con Member

    I was thinking of something similar but more in terms of the David French kerfuffle. I don’t know how the coalition survives (or expands), which faction will dominate but feel certain that dominance will be based on performance. Getting points on the board, moving the ball. 

    The GOP McClellan’s have had their chance. Time for the Grants & Shermans.

    • #7
    • June 12, 2019, at 5:28 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  8. E. Kent Golding Member

    I don’t like Trump. Still can’t come up with a better alternative that would win. Sometimes, you need to accept the lesser evil, not worry about it, and move on. People need to remember that there’s a life outside of politics and government.

    • #8
    • June 12, 2019, at 6:14 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  9. Samuel Block Member

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo… (View Comment):

    “Know what I was most proud of?” Joe said Wednesday, “For eight years, there wasn’t one single hint of a scandal or a lie.”

    If you like your insurance plan you can keep it.

    If you like your doctors you can keep them.

    You’ll save $2500 a year on your insurance.

    Scandals are soooo 2007

    • #9
    • June 12, 2019, at 6:18 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  10. EJHill Podcaster

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: Mocking the electorate will only fuel the resentment and ensure more Brexits and Morrisons and Trumps.

    Welcome to the party, Chief. I’ve been singing from that hymnal for three years. But pointing out that attacking the electorate is bad form will now characterize you as a full-throated Trump supporter. We all know that Trump supporters have no legitimate beefs. It’s all driven by xenohomosinoprotectionistphobia.

    You will never pull a paycheck from The Bulwark.

    • #10
    • June 12, 2019, at 6:23 PM PDT
    • 15 likes
  11. Full Size Tabby Member

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    I don’t like Trump. Still can’t come up with a better alternative that would win. Sometimes, you need to accept the lesser evil, not worry about it, and move on. People need to remember that there’s a life outside of politics and government.

    But Progressives are making that harder and harder by making life outside of politics and government smaller and smaller.

    • #11
    • June 12, 2019, at 7:37 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  12. Franco Member

    “Likewise, GOP voices (notably championed by The Bulwark) can’t drag the party back to the post-Clinton consensus. Their strategy of naming and shaming pro-Trump conservatives intends to recreate a dead gatekeeper role for allowable political conversation. They’re propping up a gate when the fence around it was torn down years ago.”

    They are so fixated on Trump’s personality ( they really can’t stand him!) they believe his support is wholly or mostly based on his personality. They believe a con-man came along and dazzled our feeble minds.

    But then, in retrospect, it looks to me that it was always about personality for them. A President was a kind of icon or an avatar. The symbol was important. Policies, winning territory from the left, advancing conservatism, didn’t matter so much. We see it so plainly in the stark relief. And I’ve noticed that even the balls and strikes umpire contingent rarely complained or critiqued Bush, even though he was far from perfect as well. They always feel the need to separate themselves from Trump and say something negative to keep their distance.

    Now I really understand David Brook’s comment about Obama’s creased pants. I thought it was some kind of metaphor. No. That’s actually his level of thinking. Appearances.

    But we lived through the Clinton years, and watched Obama put his feet up on the desk ( something DJT would never do BTW) and the Presidency lost some cache. Moreover, it became evident in retrospect that our guy Bush actually had too much respect for the office and not enough for the people who elected him.

    I quibble about Obama begetting Trump however. Bush (W) McCain, Romney, Boener, Ryan, et al are much more responsible than Obama. And that’s why we can’t go back again. And they, quite stupidly, won’t let us forget.

    • #12
    • June 12, 2019, at 8:00 PM PDT
    • 14 likes
  13. Roosevelt Guck Member

    Biden can’t beat Trump. And none of the other miserable Democrats have any chance as far as I can see. Others with more knowledge of the Democrat base are in a better position to judge how well each of the candidates is doing right now, but there is no path for any of these folks to the political center, where they will have to go in order to win next November. Not one of them has ever had to succeed with center-right voters on a national stage. They’ve been honing their stump speeches and their elevator pitches within the bubble, where dissenting voices from the right are neither expressed nor heard nor tolerated. It’s obvious. Not one of them can talk to the whole country. They seem to forget that Obama won by having almost no political track record and by misrepresenting his views to appeal to conservative Democrats and independents. Today’s Democrats have long records that make it easy to label them as left-wingers, and I don’t think they’re agile enough to misrepresent their beliefs even if they did not. Obama also won because the GOP could not fully get behind either John McCain or Mitt Romney.

    In what universe do any of these candidates win the 63 or so million votes they will need to win next November?

    The Democrats running for president take themselves too seriously in ways that are off-putting. They are humorless, shrill, self-aggrandizing, distant, angry, and elitist. Their discourse is larded with Ivy League euro-socialist mumbo jumbo (Climate Change, Ban private health insurance, free college, open boarders, blah, blah, blah). It’s just awful.

    • #13
    • June 12, 2019, at 9:17 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  14. Jon1979 Lincoln

    Biden’s effort to turn himself into Obama’s third term makes sense, because despite the media declaring Uncle Joe the most wacky-but-lovable presidential candidate in American history, there’s really no reason for Biden’s candidacy other than to try and whip up Obama nostalgia among the Democratic faithful. It’s also why Biden’s trying to tie himself to Obama as much as possible, even as Obama’s really not reciprocating towards his former VP (if Obama really wanted to kill Biden’s candidacy before it started, all he’d have to do is say something nice or tweet out a photo of him with one of the other presidential hopeful, and the signal will have been given that wacky-but-loveable Uncle Joe is now befuddled-past-his-prime Biden, and all those past political positions or touching incidents he’s mostly getting a free pass on now would suddenly come roaring back to end his hopes).

    • #14
    • June 12, 2019, at 9:25 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. James Lileks Contributor

    Biden, in his latest Iowa speech:

    “Look, Donald Trump a threat to the United States.”

    Fine; say what you wish, but calling the duly elected President of the United States a threat to the nation – isn’t that kinda sorta “enemy of the people”?

    “Attacking private citizens using language like ‘total loser.’ Barack Obama would not do that. No president would do that. Most teenagers wouldn’t do that. You know, he’s setting a standard, the standard of crude language and embarrassing behavior that is burrowing into our culture for real. It’s in our culture. It will take time to get rid of it, but we must. We must. It is not who we are.”

    Oh but it is, and why?

    Start with Hollywood, Joe. Start with pop music. Start with streaming networks. Start with everyone who, since the 60s, has declared that all the bourgeoise norms, maaaan, are just a way The Man keeps honest and free expression down, and the most true and noble expression of Western culture is Al Goldstein’s “Screw” magazine, because it sticks it to the prudes. Start there. Your people knocked down the wall Donald Trump sauntered through, decades later.

    Other than that, you’re totally in tune with the times; no teenager would say something as unacceptable as “total loser.” 

    • #15
    • June 12, 2019, at 11:11 PM PDT
    • 18 likes
  16. aardo vozz Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I have no doubt that we will never go back to the way things were. In a way, that is a good thing. I’m just a bit anxious about what things will look like even six years from now. Another “new normal”?

    Maybe constant “new normals” is the new normal. We might not have to wait six years.😬

    • #16
    • June 13, 2019, at 4:17 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. EndOfPatience Member

    “If anyone wants to oust Trump in 2020 or his heirs in 2024, they first have to address why voters are furious at their supposed betters and create a better solution. Mocking the electorate will only fuel the resentment and ensure more Brexits and Morrisons and Trumps.”

    This has been obvious since November 9, 2016. The problem for Democrats and other extreme Leftists is that President Trump CAN NOT exist in their conceptual framework. And as long as they can’t accept his existence, they can’t comprehend how he came to be President.

    • #17
    • June 13, 2019, at 5:06 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  18. Stina Member

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    Biden, in his latest Iowa speech:

    “Look, Donald Trump a threat to the United States.”

    Fine; say what you wish, but calling the duly elected President of the United States a threat to the nation – isn’t that kinda sorta “enemy of the people”?

    “Attacking private citizens using language like ‘total loser.’ Barack Obama would not do that. No president would do that. Most teenagers wouldn’t do that. You know, he’s setting a standard, the standard of crude language and embarrassing behavior that is burrowing into our culture for real. It’s in our culture. It will take time to get rid of it, but we must. We must. It is not who we are.”

    Oh but it is, and why?

    Start with Hollywood, Joe. Start with pop music. Start with streaming networks. Start with everyone who, since the 60s, has declared that all the bourgeoise norms, maaaan, are just a way The Man keeps honest and free expression down, and the most true and noble expression of Western culture is Al Goldstein’s “Screw” magazine, because it sticks it to the prudes. Start there. Your people knocked down the wall Donald Trump sauntered through, decades later.

    Other than that, you’re totally in tune with the times; no teenager would say something as unacceptable as “total loser.”

    This comment needs more likes.

    • #18
    • June 13, 2019, at 6:34 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. Western Chauvinist Member

    Watching Biden’s stump speech was one of those yelling at the screen moments. “No, that’s you!!” “No, that’s your party!! 

    Take everything he said and turn it 180 degrees for the truth. 

    Corrupting the FBI to sabotage the 2016 election and its outcome isn’t a “threat to the United States?” Sneering at the founding institutions (electoral college) and defying the will of the people (we didn’t want Obamacare, but they gave it to us good and hard through procedural trickery) isn’t dangerous to democracy?? Sending government agents after reporters (and their parents!!! James Rosen) isn’t violating First Amendment rights and an assault on the free press??

    If Joe Biden’s lips are moving, he’s lying. He’s a lying, scheming bastard and we shouldn’t underestimate him. 

    • #19
    • June 13, 2019, at 7:29 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  20. Percival Thatcher

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    If Joe Biden’s lips are moving, he’s lying. He’s a lying, scheming bastard and we shouldn’t underestimate him. 

    You left out plagiarizing and creepy. 

    • #20
    • June 13, 2019, at 7:31 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. Western Chauvinist Member

    Percival (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):
    If Joe Biden’s lips are moving, he’s lying. He’s a lying, scheming bastard and we shouldn’t underestimate him.

    You left out plagiarizing and creepy.

    I also forgot to mention the Collusion Scam reaches into the DoJ, the State Department, and, now, finally, Congress itself. The Left hates us. Hates the West. Hates the United States. And will do anything to undermine it, all while projecting Democrat maliciousness onto Republicans. It’s evil.

    • #21
    • June 13, 2019, at 7:40 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  22. E. Kent Golding Member

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):

    I don’t like Trump. Still can’t come up with a better alternative that would win. Sometimes, you need to accept the lesser evil, not worry about it, and move on. People need to remember that there’s a life outside of politics and government.

    But Progressives are making that harder and harder by making life outside of politics and government smaller and smaller.

    I agree, but the Progressives are the first people who need to get a life. Maybe if they had a life they would be less Progressive. Politics is a poor substitute for faith, community, or meaning. Nice hobby though.

    • #22
    • June 13, 2019, at 5:21 PM PDT
    • 4 likes