Normal Already Failed

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The selling point of Joe Biden’s campaign for president is that our current political nightmare is just a momentary aberration. Joe, good old Joe, friend of Barack, has come to deliver us back to normalcy. Consider what normalcy means.

Last night, Biden held one of his endless high-dollar fundraisers in Miami. The press pool report, by the Miami Herald’s David Smiley, notes that he was introduced by Miami real estate developer Craig Robins, who said “he is looking for ‘a solution that could just make things normal again.’” Then came Biden himself, who said this: “‘I truly believe we can fundamentally change our standard for middle class people in America without going out and making sure no one can be a billionaire. We don’t need that kind of stuff. The fact of the matter is just a rational policy’ will suffice.”

Craig Robins and his wife, both wealthy real estate developers who are the children of wealthy real estate developers, want things to be normal again. What do you think normal means, to two rich people who grew up rich? It means the freedom to be rich in peace. Without all this noise. It means, to be more precise, the chance to flit back and forth between their New York apartment and their “waterfront Mediterranean Deco–style manse in Miami’s ultraposh Sunset Islands neighborhood” and continue accumulating capital without feeling bad about it; without feeling the distaste that comes with having a goon president with little style assault their senses every day. They want a change in the style, not the substance, of America.


And that is what Biden offers: an assurance that we can revert back to a time that was, perhaps, a bit more progressive, and a lot more aesthetically pleasing, without doing anything drastic like interrupting the rights of billionaires to endlessly enrich themselves past all human ability to spend. That would be irrational, according to Biden. In an age of booming inequality—when that inequality, nurtured by government policy over 40 years, has undermined the ability of most people to move up in the world, has made a farce of our democracy, and has, itself, done much to produce the conditions that led to the rise of Trump and other right-wing fascists around the world—it would simply be unreasonable to expect a good businessman to make do with only nine hundred ninety nine million dollars. What are we, Russia?

None of this is breaking news. It is all a matter of perspective. It is important to remember that the “normal” state of affairs to which centrists like Biden want to return is itself horribly broken. It is what produced the social and political distortions that we are now suffering through. It is the idea that capital comes first, and rules, and has primacy over humanity, and should only be leavened in the most gentle ways. The ironic thing about Biden’s appeal to return to the Obama era is that we know how that era ends. It ends with where we are now. Obama’s greatest failure was that he did not attempt to attack the foundation of the system that produced his presidency. Biden promises to do the same. That’s not rational at all. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.