Americans haven’t been this generally disgruntled with the political establishment since the 1990s, when the term limits movement kicked off. And by “this” I mean the general unrest and “culture war” now.

Paul Jacob was there and in the thick of it back then, and — in conversation with him a few days ago — he says Americans are more angry now.

I agree. They have never been more distrustful of government and politicians and media and “the elites” than at present.

Which is why I don’t think there is any easy way to “go back to normal.” 

Why bring up this rather obvious point? Well, because J.D. Tuccille, writing at Reason, shows how easy it is to get this all backwards and upside-down in his opinion piece, “Biden and Trump Repulse Voters as GOP Shows Signs of Becoming Normal Again.”

Normal, of course, isn’t liberty, it is unthinking servility — and I confess to finding no camaraderie with libertarians who think it would be good for Americans to re-develop their trust in government and the establishments of power.

But that sure seems to be what Tuccille suggests.

Where does he go wrong? Orange Man, of course.

“Quite clearly,” Tuccille asserts, “Trump didn’t represent the Republican Party; the party became a vehicle for the man himself, to be used or discarded as he saw fit. That’s a classic cult of personality. . . .”

This misses the big message of 2015 and ’16: Republican leaders didn’t represent their constituents. Republican voters did not leap to Trump out of some mesmeric state of compulsion from The Great Orange Evil, they chose him above the others because he mocked those others, openly denying their standing as leaders. Trump’s supporters wanted “the Swamp” drained, so Trump promised it.

Dismissing Trump’s allure as “a classic cult of personality” misses the big story: the roiling, overwhelming distrust — a distrust of government way beyond disillusion.

“America’s experiment with strongman politics may turn out to be blessedly brief,” Tuccille begins his last paragraph. Though this implies that Biden’s also a strongman, nowhere in his piece does Tuccille acknowledge the truth of this: Biden rules in a far more dictatorial and “fascist” way than did Trump. Can’t say that in Reason these days? Hmmm?

By focusing on Trump as a cartoon strongman, and blaming Biden’s loss of support on his “bungling” and his “visible deterioration” and current “high inflation,” Tuccille avoids dealing with the great failure of The 21st Century American System.

The growing ranks of independents, of a trans-partisan recognition of that failure, and of disapproval of both Trump and Biden, bodes well. But not normal.

America needs structural reforms at the very least. Merely electing someone other than Trump or Biden is unlikely to pull off any “return to normalcy.” It won’t be that easy.

Mr. Tuccille’s been hanging around normies too much, I bet.


N.B. Image from ”Normal Again,” one of the few great seventh season Buffy episodes, for obvious reasons. Of course, I am not suggesting that we non-normies are crazy — not at all. But think on’t.