When I was a boy, most people lived in a way we considered a “normal” – although we didn’t really call it that. The country simply accepted that it was so. Marriage and families were central components of “normal” life. There were widows and widowers, of course, as well as divorced and never-married people. But unmarried women having children were relatively rare. So was unmarried cohabitation. Divorce was accepted, but not exactly condoned. No doubt some people had homosexual relationships, but they mostly stayed below the radar. Majorities of people attended church or synagogue. Schools reinforced all this. The Normal Culture crossed racial and ethnic lines. The country was founded on it.
Much has changed since that simpler time. It is now considered politically incorrect to claim that there is such a thing as a Normal Culture in America. In the “postmodern” era, liberals – i.e., primarily the political left of the Democratic Party – worship at the shrine of diversity. This goes far beyond race or national origin. Liberals condone nearly any kind of lifestyle, sexual practice, family arrangement, and sexual behavior – unless patriotism or Christianity is somehow involved. What we used to call the “nuclear family” – e.g., Ward and June Cleaver and their minor-age sons – is now mocked as hopelessly dated, unrealistic, female-oppressive, and quite possibly racist. Every vestige of religious faith has been deliberately driven from public schools and the public square. Secularism is ascendant. Big media are fully on board with all this.
Despite a strong diversity sales job by academics, liberal elites and media, however, much of America still believes in (and adheres to) that same Normal Culture. Its ethos includes faith, patriotism, traditional family life, obedience of the law, respect for people and property, respect for authority, ambition, personal responsibility, honesty, generosity, charity, commitment, decency, courage, honor, and chivalry. Normal Culture people don’t necessarily follow these principles perfectly, of course, but they are still aspired to as the ideal.
Normal Culture adherents will tolerate those who live in other ways, but they don’t want their culture disrespected or trashed, and they don’t like to be pushed around. They particularly don’t want deviant lifestyles declared equivalent – or superior – to theirs. They want public schools and churches to emphasize and reinforce Normal Culture values, although that hope is somewhat degraded these days.
Perhaps imagining that they had shouted down and squashed the Normal Culture, Democrats have been pretty bold about approving and even championing lifestyles like unmarried cohabitation, single parenting, militant homosexuality, and gay marriage. All of these are being increasingly promoted in the public schools, and even in some mainline churches. The Democrat Party’s political base now consists, heavily, of groups that advocate those “alternative lifestyles.” Deviancy has disappeared from the psychiatric lexicon, and there seem to be few limits on either private or public behavior. Intolerance is now the greatest social sin – sexual promiscuity, not so much. Acceptance (or not) of “same-sex marriage” has become a serious point of contention for organizations – especially colleges – which have long denied entre, on religious grounds, to individuals who advocate or practice sexual deviance.
Heterosexual, middle-class white men and their families are today’s forgotten, former Democrats; ditto, white southerners. Their estrangement from Thomas Jefferson’s (and FDR’s) old party of the “common man” has been happening gradually for years, although not every Democrat saw what was happening. Recent elections demonstrated the extent of the schism between Democrats and the Normal Culture – especially in the Deep South. In a December 6th runoff election, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, the Democrats’ last Southern senator, was decisively defeated by Republican Bill Cassidy (56-44%). Normal Culture voters had lost confidence in her ability to promote their interests, and her minority-base did not turn out in numbers sufficient to re-elect her. In particular, her 2010 support of the now-despised Obamacare legislation doomed her try for a fourth term. Like Brer Rabbit trying to get unstuck from the tar baby, Miss Landrieu could not unstick herself from Obamacare or from the president whose name it bears.
Attacks on Christianity have become standard operating procedure for liberal organizations like the ACLU – thus offending Normal Culture adherents. Both blacks and Hispanics – historically, some of the Democratic Party’s most faithful constituencies – are becoming increasingly alarmed by the Party’s militant, anti-Christian, pro-deviancy, pro-abortion, and pro-Islam direction. Some ethnic and racial minorities now question openly whether their continued association with the Democratic Party is appropriate or productive, given its anti-Christian drift.
Although he is lionized by far-left Democrats as a hero of the first rank in their presidential Pantheon, Bill Clinton actually did much damage to his party’s once-solid connection to the Normal Culture. While he still poses for photo-ops, carrying a horse-choker-sized Bible on his way to church, Mr. Clinton’s numerous “bimbo-eruptions” – capped by a disastrous, highly publicized dalliance with a young White House intern – finally tipped the boat over. His scandalous conduct arguably lost the 2000 presidential election for Al Gore, and might have similarly damaged Hillary’s 2008 run for the presidency. Big Media never says so, but it’s clear that the Normal Culture is no longer part of the Clinton fan club. It’s my belief that Mrs. Clinton knows this very well, and will consequently not try for the presidency in 2016, at age 69.
President Obama brought a special cachet as the nation’s first non-white president. The wild enthusiasm for his attractive persona, his good-looking family, his immaculately creased trousers, and his mellifluous words allowed Democrats to hope that their traditional connection with the Normal Culture could be restored. So it seemed in 2008, when Mr. Obama’s candidacy swept the country like a great wave of good feeling. Implicitly promising voters everything they might want, he actually spelled out very little. He said only that he would “fundamentally change” the country – which he certainly did – but he didn’t say exactly how.
It soon became clear that President Obama had no particular interest in helping people of the Normal Culture who were hurting for decent jobs. His $1 trillion stimulus package of 2009 mostly went to bail out overspent Democratic state and local governments. He rejected all Republican proposals to lower taxes for middle class people, while simultaneously imposing numerous regulations that raised fuel and electricity costs. Enacting the Affordable Health Care Act – a.k.a. “Obamacare” – was the final clout to the chops that awoke many in the Normal Culture. In the 2010 elections, Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives, as well as their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.
Mr. Obama ran a successful re-election campaign in 2012, but he made no attempt to reconnect to the Normal Culture. Instead, he ran completely against it. His Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, was a quintessential Normal Culture guy: honest, decent, reasonable, a former governor skilled at working across the political aisle, a faithful husband of one wife for many years, father of a fine family of good-looking sons, a successful business executive, etc. Who could possibly object to such an exemplary man?
The Democrats could. With the copious help of Big Media, the Obama campaign managed to smear Mr. Romney as a heartless tycoon who killed women by denying them health-care and made gazillions by busting up companies and putting people out of work. He was baselessly accused of abusing animals, bullying childhood friends, and cheating on his taxes. Beyond this slimy assault on Gov. Romney’s character, Democrats also ran a hysterical campaign that accused Republicans of waging a “war on women” which (they said) was centered on denying women access to birth control. Further injured by Internal Revenue Service political corruption that denied tax-exempt status to conservative activist groups and effectively kept some 4 million GOP voters away from the polls, Mr. Romney was handily defeated by President Obama.
In many ways, the 2012 presidential election was s mirage in which artificial issues replaced matters that truly worried the Normal Culture. The media’s preoccupation with Mr. Romney’s bogus flaws and the contrived “Republican war on women” diverted voters’ attention away from the Obama administration’s incompetence long enough to get him elected to a second term. Indeed, the Inauguration’s grandstands were scarcely dismantled when the lid blew off and all the stinking garbage of scandal and incompetence came pouring out.
Obama administration scandals in domestic and foreign affairs have been examined in some detail in earlier articles of this column, so I won’t rehearse that review. Any correct list must include: the fatal attack on the Benghazi Embassy; IRS political corruption; National Security Agency spying on American citizens; FBI harassment of media reporters; CIA spying on Senator Diane Feinstein and others; American troop withdrawals from Iraq that allowed the Islamic State movement to emerge; VA-hospital mismanagement that resulted in substandard treatment of wounded veterans; failure to keep Ebola cases out of the USA; etc., etc.
After six years of one of the most incompetent presidencies in American history, people of the Normal Culture finally had enough. In massive numbers they broke with the Democratic Party and delivered the most stinging electoral rebuke of modern times. The myth of Democrats’ guardianship of the Normal Culture’s interests is broken – at least for the nonce. If Republicans play their cards right, it will be some time before Democrats can recreate that myth.
And if Americans can finally catch a break, the date of that recreation will be the 5th of Never.