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There is no new normal for the Democrats

Doe normaal? They couldn’t if they tried — and they aren’t trying.

The Dutch have a term that springs from the deepest cockles of their national heart: "Do normaal." They share the famed social critic Patrick Bateman's liking for the "pleasures of conformity."

"Just be regular," she says.

Joe Biden and his Democratic supporters might benefit from this counsel.

Four separate Democrats offered Biden & Co. the same Dutch advise in the New York Times write-up of the Democrats' election disaster on Tuesday: Doe normaal.

"Nobody elected him to be F.D.R.; they voted him to be normal and stop the craziness," said Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D., Va.), who is up for reelection next year in a seat that Biden won by a single point in 2020. "People are tired and bewildered, and they want to get back to their normal lives... They want their schools open," Democratic state senator Loretta Weinberg of New Jersey said. Voters, according to Representative Donald McEachin (D., Va.), want things to "go back to normal as soon as possible." Howard Wolfson, a Democratic strategist, proposed a "course correction" toward "bipartisan normality."

Do what is expected of you. Good suggestion, but it'll be difficult for Democrats to do.

The abnormality of the Republican Party was very much front-and-center during Donald Trump’s presidency, because Trump — a genuine celebrity long before he was president — provided a point of focus for it, a face and a name. But if Trump was the ring-master for four years, the Democrats have long had a pretty good sideshow of their own, from electing professing socialists such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to linking up with anti-Semites, excusing and in some cases encouraging a summer of riots and arson, trying to defund or disband police departments, making a kind of national penitential rite out of COVID-19 masking and social distancing, etc. The events surrounding January 6 are a serious business, but “What about January 6?” is only going to get you so far — especially when you have Terry McAuliffe out there lecturing parents that they have no business getting themselves involved with what their children are taught in the schools.

Joe Biden, as Representative Spanberger rightly put it, was elected to “be normal and stop the chaos.” And there is some reason to believe that “be normal” comports pretty well with Biden’s personal inclinations: He is a lazy, stupid mediocrity, and the path of normalcy ought to be the path of least resistance. It would be, too, if not for the fact that he is also the hostage of a political party that is addicted to crisis.

When Donald Trump was elected, Democrats howled that it was the end of the country — and Democrats from Joe Biden to Hillary Rodham Clinton, let us not forget, rejected his election as “illegitimate.” But even those of us who opposed Trump also remember that Democrats had said much the same thing about every Republican president since Dwight Eisenhower: George W. Bush was going to usher in the dark forces of American fascism (remember Kingdom Coming in 2007 and American Fascists in 2008?), George H. W. Bush was a tool of the “New World Order,” Ronald Reagan a warmongering madman, etc. We had left-wing kooks trying to assassinate Gerald Ford, for goodness’s sake. Our friends on the left have been promising us either a corporate dystopia or a Christian Taliban courtesy of the GOP for decades. So far, neither has materialized.

But it’s not just losing elections. Everything is the end of the world for Democrats. Climate change? End of the world. Economy? End of the world. Caitlyn the social-media intern has to pay back her student loans after Oberlin? End of the whole damned world. Inflation? You can bet your ass that rising prices for groceries and energy would be the end of the world if Ted Cruz were president — but inflation is, apparently, the new homelessness: It’s only an issue when it might hurt a Republican.

When you are addicted to crisis, you cannot doe normaal — normal is the enemy. Twenty years ago, we might have worked out a reasonable cap-and-trade approach to greenhouse-gas emissions. Milton Friedman had proposed cap-and-trade systems for conventional air pollution, the George H. W. Bush administration had implemented a successful cap-and-trade program for acid-rain reduction, and in 2007 National Review published Jim Manzi’s “Conservative Strategy on Global Warming,” making the case for a cap-and-trade approach there. But in our time, the so-called Green New Dealers propose remaking essentially every aspect of our national economy and the world economy, from transportation and manufacturing to labor markets and trade policy, subjecting the entirety of the global marketplace to political regimentation — going far beyond anything that might plausibly be understood to be a climate program. The result: angst and wailing, buckets of hysteria, and . . . no real climate policy. In fact, the Chicken Little stuff has made achieving a bipartisan, consensus-oriented climate policy an even more remote possibility today than it was in the 1990s or at the turn of the century.

It shouldn’t be too hard for the party of Joe Biden to look like normal and sensible compared to the party of Marjorie Taylor Greene. But the Democratic Party isn’t the party of Joe Biden any more than the GOP is the party of Mitt Romney — and the Democrats’ road back to normal does not run through Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, or Cori Bush, or any of the various progressive hysterias that seem like such a big deal on Twitter.

Doe normaal? They couldn’t if they tried — and they aren’t trying.

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