The world expects normalcy – The Weekly 37
Almost exactly a hundred years ago, then presidential candidate Warren G. Harding said in a campaign speech:
“America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment.”
Just a few years after World War 1 officially ended but cannons were still being fired in several points of the world, and when humanity was just beginning to recover from the shock and the losses caused by the Spanish flu, President Harding’s position hardly needed any further explanation. Everybody could very well remember how the world had suddenly become a volatile and dangerous place after the “happy times of peace”. This change was an unwelcome one. People were exhausted and longed for stability.
We may be having similar feelings nowadays. We have an eventful (albeit more peaceful and happier than the 1910s) decade behind us: we have seen the rise and then the more and more spectacular failure of political populism as well as a pandemic with its consequent social and economic tensions.
Normalcy and stability have never been more sorely needed than now. The question is: can we get there?
Just a few days after the inauguration of US President Joe Biden, we can hardly know how the future generations will remember his presidency, so we can only hope that we are facing a calmer period than the term of President Donald Trump. All of us, but especially the people of the United States need it more than anything. However, it cannot happen without temperance and self-restraint.
Unfortunately, certain triumphant voices are still looking forward to taking a revenge for their real or imagined grievances and political attacks suffered during the Trump era. I find these voices deeply concerning. Not because I shed a single tear for Trump’s presidency or his methods, but because the past weeks and months have clearly shown where political incitement and revanchism may lead. The “siege” of the Capitol has made us all realize how fragile democracy is and how easily a few remarks or allegations can trigger social disruption and unrest with human casualties.
That’s why I hope the new Biden administration will feel the responsibility bestowed upon them by the trust of the American citizens, and spare no effort to unite the nation. In order for that to happen, you sometimes need to be generous and rise above the grievances or political conflicts. If the new president and his administration keeps its eyes on the past or engages in altercations with the members and the supporters of the previous leadership, the loser will be the entire American nation while the winner will be the very same populism that we would love to finally forget.
In the upcoming period, all eyes will be on America to see how it copes with the legacy of the past years. Besides moderate politicians, populists will also watch intensely because every conflict, every disgruntled or ignored citizen will be yet another political opportunity for them. In our present, pandemic-ridden situation, it is especially important for us to realize that we need to reinforce democracy by involving people as partners in governance.
I am convinced this is the only way to move forward and give our citizens what they so deeply long for after this turbulent period: normalcy.