Friday, January 20, 2017

Deconstructing Social Norms

Donald Trump is a rude, semi-articulate bully. So says David Marcus at The Federalist, and, of course, the evidence certainly supports him. His behavior is not normal, Marcus avers, and a compelling case could be made for that claim as well. He's also correct when he notes that the progressive left is shocked at Trump's deviation from the norms of behavior that have traditionally prevailed in our society. And he's undoubtedly right, finally, when he observes that the left's professed shock at Trump's deviancy from traditional norms of behavior is not a little hypocritical since they themselves have been attacking social norms for decades.

Marcus writes:
Progressives have found a rallying cry in their opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency. Whether in the New York Times, on the John Oliver Show, or in protests in the nations’ streets, they are insisting that Trump is “not normal.” News media and elected officials not considered critical enough of Trump are criticized for normalizing him and his ideas. Suddenly progressives, of all people, are deeply concerned about our culture’s long-held norms and traditions.

The irony in all of this is crystal clear. These are the same people who over the past few years have insisted that five-year-old boys becoming five-year-old girls is normal. They tell us that a guaranteed basic income and running for president as a Socialist is normal. Forcing Catholic hospitals to offer birth control, undocumented immigrants voting in our elections, and abolishing the police: normal, normal, and normal.

In Donald Trump, with his admittedly dangerous, devil-may-care attitude, progressives have stumbled upon the value of conserving norms and traditions. A president just doesn’t say these awful things about his opponents and the media. A president doesn’t tweet attacks at enemies late at night. A President doesn’t put a controversial figure like Steve Bannon a few doors down from the Oval Office.

But here’s the thing: it’s too late. We are way past that now. The Left let its freak flag fly. We all saw it. No normal is the new normal and there is no clear way back from that.
Marcus has quite a bit more to say about this at the link, but he makes an interesting point in what he writes in the paragraphs above. If one is cheered by the deconstruction of traditional norms that has occurred over the last five decades one certainly can't complain about Trump's abnormal conduct in the last election cycle. He's simply doing, after all, the very thing that progressives have been doing for decades which is assaulting the norms that have governed our social interactions for centuries. Whether that's good or bad (For my part I think it's not good whether it's progressives who do it or Trump who does it) I leave for you to decide, but I do think it's at best inconsistent to complain about Trump's flouting of social norms, on the one hand, while applauding progressives who flout and dismantle them on the other.