The Trouble with Normal

So many people in my Facebook and Twitter feeds adamantly retailed the meme, the posting of said meme peaking a week or two ago, that the Trumpening shouldn’t be “normalized,” and we shouldn’t slip into accepting Trump and the coming Idiocracy/Republic of Gilead as normal. I don’t necessarily disagree with that. I find it hard to think of Trump as normal, or to think that I would ever think of Trump as normal, particularly as he presents as a clinically abnormal personality. But I have trouble with the word normal. For one thing, a lot of “normal” people voted for Trump. For another, I have a clinically abnormal personality myself. But more importantly, I think many things we collectively as Americans have already accepted as “normal” are exactly what brought us to Trump. I thought, “The trouble with normal…is it always gets worse.” This is not an original thought. It is the refrain of a song by Bruce Cockburn, released in 1983. To wit:

Strikes across the frontier and strikes for higher wage
Planet lurches to the right as ideologies engage
Suddenly it’s repression, moratorium on rights
What did they think the politics of panic would invite?
Person in the street shrugs — “Security comes first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Callous men in business costume speak computerese
Play pinball with the third world trying to keep it on its knees
Their single crop starvation plans put sugar in your tea
And the local third world’s kept on reservations you don’t see
“It’ll all go back to normal if we put our nation first”
But the trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Fashionable fascism dominates the scene
When the ends don’t meet it’s easier to justify the means
Tenants get the dregs and the landlords get the cream
As the grinding devolution of the democratic dream
Brings us men in gas masks dancing while the shells burst
The trouble with normal is it always gets worse

Per William Blake, manacles are forged in the mind, and the hapless Soldiers sigh/Runs in blood down Palace walls.

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