NORMAL PLEASE: What We Really Want | Steve Berman

We want the normies to run things. We want normal people, who get up every day, go to work, do their jobs competently, and come home to put some chicken on the grill. 

We are 15 months and 4 days before Election Day 2024. That’s a very long time. For comparison, it’s been 16 months and 11 days since Russia invaded Ukraine. It was 8 months and 18 days between WHO declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic and the first doses of the Moderna vaccine under FDA emergency approval (after trials).

My point is that a lot can happen in just 15 months.

Right now, Donald Trump is leading all other candidates in the GOP, outside the margin of error, in every poll. Ron DeSantis is trying to figure out how to gain some traction to break out and capture at least some of Trump’s devoted supporters. The rest of the field is holding back, watching to see what DeSantis does. Many polls have Trump ahead of Bidenif the election were held today.

The thing about Ronald Reagan isn’t necessarily that he was a great communicator, or that his ideals were squeaky clean. It was somewhat a fortunate point in history that Reagan was able to actually crush the Soviet Union by spending it into the ground, versus one man’s foresight.

The thing about Reagan that connected is that though he was a somewhat stoic figure of the WWII era, he was a real person who rode horses, loved his wife, got up every day, put on a coat and tie to sit in the most powerful office in the world. He respected the office and treated it with gratitude. He worked while he was president. Of course, so did others in that job, but Reagan made it look like work. (Eisenhower was famous for making hard work look like golf; Bill Clinton made hard work look like a dating game; Barack Obama made hard work look like activism.)

The people who connect with Donald Trump do so because he pretends to value hard work (but he rarely works hard except at being the center of all attention). This connection doesn’t exist for Ron DeSantis, who seems to be all veneer (respect for DeSantis, who served as a Navy JAG, deployed, and graduated from a top law school). The connection really doesn’t exist for most of the other candidates, and the ones who try to make it are not being well heard (Doug Burgum, I’m talking to you!).

We, the voters, want something normal, not “QAnon Shaman.” We want to trust government. We really do. We want the FDA, FCC, FAA, NIH, CDC, and yes, even the IRS, to do their jobs, fairly, competently, without bias or favor or political intrigue. Is that even possible? Would Trumpists really throw away 50,000 mostly competent government workers to get rid of maybe a thousand who are Democrat activists? Would they really throw the whole baby out with the bath water? You betcha, they would.

But that’s not the answer. The message that would resonate is “I’m normal. Be normal.” That doesn’t mean conform. It means be you and let me be me, and let your neighbor be your neighbor, without trying to bring up Medicare for all or climate change at Thanksgiving dinner. Who does that? (Ask Obama.) We don’t have to fly every victim flag for a month and honor some group.

We want normal, and I pray someone steps up and says it, campaigns on it, but doesn’t wear it like a mask.

Wishful thinking predominates the public space; actually, magical thinking, where A plus B plus ?? equals getting what we wish for. If only we knew what we were wishing for. When we don’t know what we want, to put in perspective what happens when some people get what they wish for, as H. L. Mencken said, good and hard.

With Trump, we get a scorpion getting a ride from the frog over the river. A 2024 Trump would be literally unstoppable, if he survives his legal challenges. But unstoppable doesn’t mean what you think it means. It means he will do as he pleases, not as you think he pleases. The bully is only fun to have around until he bullies you too. Don’t put too much faith you’ll get what you want when you get your wishes with Trump.

Joe Biden is a placeholder, and another term with him in the White House would be difficult to bear. It would not be normal. It would be dysfunctional, marked by nonsensical bursts, and a hermit president. We don’t need more of that. But to millions, Biden simply means “not Trump.” Their wishful thinking will get them exactly what they wish for.

Give us normal, political America. Otherwise, we are going to get more wishful thinking. If you think the scenarios that wishful thinking, and actually getting the wishes, is too severe, you’re certainly right. Probably right. Maybe right. Aww hell, I don’t know, but I don’t want to take the chance.

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevengberman.

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