After 30 months of the administration of President Donald Trump, I have been contemplating just what "Make America Great Again" translates into. There are those who would say I am grasping at straws or that I am fishing for the moon in the water, yet as the quadrennial election of 2020 draws near, I have also been pondering which candidate from the Democratic Party will work across the aisle and take on the current dysfunction in Washington, D.C. Will there be a return to normalcy?
In the presidential election of 1920, the return to normalcy for many Americans meant a return to the "good old days." The Great War – the "war to end all wars" – was over, and naturally it was time to enjoy the aspects of a post-war America. Warren G. Harding won an overwhelming GOP victory in 1920, and despite the popularity of his campaign slogan, the word "normalcy" was his own mispronunciation of the word "normality." Woodrow Wilson's son-in-law, William McAdoo, once said President Harding's speech "was like an army of pompous phrases moving over the landscape in search of an idea."
Earlier this month in a Los Angeles Times interview, Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., made a case regarding the delusional nature of former Vice President Joe Biden's call for making America normal again. How much normalcy can we expect to see return if Trump is defeated in 2020? The "legislative graveyard" of Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has become a tool in the toolbox of House Democrats seeking to break the stalemate within the GOP-dominated Senate. Amy McGrath has announced her bid to challenge McConnell in the Trump bastion state of Kentucky, and considering her close race loss to Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., in 2018, coupled with McConnell's recent drop in approval rating polls, McGrath is no dark horse candidate.
The return to normalcy is a tall order when you consider we are a nation burdened with trillions of dollars in debt to China, as well as a nation that is placing the burden of repayment on the shoulders of future generations. In the arena of foreign policy, it will be no easy task to rebuild relationships with our NATO allies, not to mention undoing the damage done to the Iran Nuclear Agreement, which unraveled a truly groundbreaking feat of diplomacy by President Barack Obama, whose White House was able to rally China and Russia within the realm of the agreement.
The look of the country can change because of leaders we admire. There are those who admire Trump, and some carry out atrocities against minorities in this country. The question some are asking is whether Trump is helping undermine the safety of African-Americans, Muslims, LGBT, and other minorities in America. Trump has tweeted that he has no intention of toning down his rhetoric, which is disconcerting, because his incendiary rhetoric is dangerous when digested by unstable people.
A president who respects the Fourth Estate as a legitimate aspect of our checks and balances would be a welcome transition. Polls have shown Trump's press-bashing is working to sew public distrust of our free press. Last year's midterm election results did not completely satisfy those who are frustrated by Trump and his party's agenda, which has included attempts to repeal Obamacare, enforce inhumane immigration policies, threaten the integrity of the environment, damage our relations with NATO, stoke the fires of racism and intolerance, and inflict economic hardship for workers and our economy in general, with reckless trade and tax policies.
Sen. Bennet may refer to Biden's vision for normalcy as delusional, yet for those of us that have had enough of "Trumpism," normalcy – albeit a challenge – should be the wave of the American future.
Brent Been is a Tahlequah educator with a special emphasis on civics and history.