The New Normal? Or Has it Always Been This Way?

Majorities make the rules in democracies, do they not?  Even in a republic like ours, the majority of votes translates into representatives of a certain ideological stripe.  In the end, the majority interests of elected law makers matters and those — more or less — represent the trend the of the majority of Americans.  Fifty-percent plus 1.

There is no place for footnotes, so I’ll footnote here.  Gerrymandering can misrepresent the interests of an overall population and an archaic electoral college means a majority of voters won’t necessarily choose the next President and all that comes with it.  But that’s the lesser of evils here.

In the United States today we have a majority of politically unsophisticated citizens, people who also lack knowledge of history, even very recent history, and increasingly look upon facts with suspicion.  Ignorance and democracy do not mix well and oligarchs know it.

Sorry about, but call me caustic, call me elitist, call me insulting…I don’t care…when the country is in trouble and we suffer under the tutelage of bad ideas, it isn’t time to sugar coat those bad ideas.  Look no further than the presidency of Barak Obama and the leadership of the Democrats generally to see what happens when you try to give credit to ideas that have no credit due.  You lose ground, you lose time, and, most importantly, you lose the rhetorical edge.

Today’s political discourse has been hijacked by various tropes of what is called “the new normal.”

In some ways the New Normal is indeed very new.  We do in fact live in a global economy that is much different than the world economy of just a generation ago.  I recall grainy black and white photos of drab Chinese bicycling to work in Beijing.   That was the picture of China only a short few decades ago.  Take a look now.  What do you see?

The comparative advantages of the global economy have shifted.  The United States is struggling to find opportunity in these changes.   Opportunity requires investments in people and infrastructure that the United States is unwilling to make.  It is much either to make change threatening and scary and blame the past for what we are failing to do today.  The New Normal is one where the sky is falling.

And it is that falling sky that enables the economic and political elite to push and agenda that fosters ignorance for the sake of stealing political power.  The New Normal facing the United States isn’t so much a change in economic and global centers of influence as much as it is the institutionalization of cognitive dissonance.  When a shrinking minority gains advantage from a growing majority of voters’ choices, a problem exists somewhere.  A crisis of democracy.

The New Normal, we are told, is austerity so we don’t become “another Greece” or it is innovation so we can be more like a corporation.  Never mind that neither of these analogies fit the facts, they do fit the rhetoric of the New Normal.  This enables the oligarchs to cut government further, rollback social and judicial programs, deregulate industry, and turn the world’s largest economy into an instrument of wealth generation for the few with access to it.

Let’s face it, we live in the age of austerity now — the era of less is more — and have for several decades.  We live with less and less government, less and less regulation.  This has been the way of the land for years.  Privatization and tax cuts — the fuel for job creation, we are told — has been given its chance.  Take a look around.  What are the results?  By what logic do we think this charade will deliver different results?

The right to vote only serves the people when they vote in their interests.  Until we become a more sophisticated and better-informed electorate that understands and defends its best interests, there isn’t any reason to expect that the people we elect will be delivering any tangible positive change.  The fault of our decline rests squarely on the shoulders of the voters.

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