There is No Return to Normal

For the past year or so, and particularly again in the past few weeks, here’s been a lot of punditry and social media chatter that seems based on the notion that Pres. Trump needs to go so that things can “return to normal.”  Mostly it comes from folks on the left, occasionally from Trump critics on the right.

It’s not happening, not only because Trump is unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon, but also because there is no “return to normal.”

That is a corollary to there being no “right” or “wrong” side of history.

To be sure, whenever Trump does leave the political stage, some things may again seem as they did before he was elected.  Many of the strangest things about the current political environment seem unique to him, while his administration continues to do mostly Republican things and even Congress is about to enact a fairly typical Republican tax law (even if it’s not one of their better efforts).

Other things may not ever be quite the same.  Electing someone as morally and ethically questionable as Bill Clinton had consequences that helped pave the way for electing Trump, so it’s a fair bet that having elected Trump will have a ripple effect we can’t quite imagine in its full dimensions a decade or two from now.

The flip side to this realization is how temporary the “new normal” of the Trump era may be.  Considering the GOP coalition as I’ve noted before — The Party of Reagan was not the Party of Nixon.  And I’d argue the Party of George W. Bush wasn’t entirely the Party of Reagan, either.  Similarly, the Party of Obama was not the Party of Clinton and the Democrats are going to spend years actively arguing about the Party of the Next Democratic President.

What the GOP After Trump looks like is unknowable, starting with the fact that we don’t know how he will succeed or fail.  And even if he was a two-term success, his most likely successor would be VP Mike Pence, whose appeal and coalition would not be quite the same.  If the right starts arguing about the Party of the Next GOP President a bit early, it may be wheel-spinning, but by no means the end of the world.

A week ago, I tried to reassure readers with the notion that all of this has happened before.  But the idea that also none of this has happened before shouldn’t be unduly unnerving.  We may lose and we may win though we will never be here again.  So take it easy.

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