Revenge of the Normies?


“The single most important result of this election,” writes David Brooks in The New York Times, “was the triumph of the normies.” Common sense took a stand against the threat of wild Trumpkins. Even the polls were only 3 points off. As one candidate, the near Democratic victor over Lauren Boebert, put it, the election was about “the coalition ?of the normal.”

Not that normality will be restored, at least for the next two years of the (wood)shedding of Trump, Samson Agonistes in his Temple, and corralling Republican crazies in the House. But the voters spoke clearly: abortion should be restored, threats to democracy rebuffed, the constitutional republic boosted, and ill-prepared populists scolded. Biden’s approach of quietly legislating for the public good turned out to be the temper of these intemperate times.

As Brooks observes, both major parties are now weak, with the Democrats too elite and the Republicans too Trump. Both could see a path forward, with sensible, more youthful, polyglot coalitionism for the Ds, and a diverse, traditionalist, working-class agenda for the Rs. Some promising signs for the Republicans: the notable drift of Latino and Asian Americans to the GOP; getting 47 percent of Independents. 

The triumph of normalcy is a gentle way of noting the continuation of stalemate and stagnation. Clearly the Republican effort at creating a new narrative for voters — furious, loose-cannon populism — has peaked, just as woke urbanism may have reached high tide for the Democrats. But the two parties remain at equal strength, focused on short-term tactics while the big issues (climate, borders, China, inflation, crime) are unresolved. 

Speaking of normal, was this past election a reversion to the norm? We are now so locked into partisan identities that each election, even Trump’s winning in 2016, greatly resembles past presidential races. Gender? In 2012, Republicans won 52 percent of male votes — same as in 2016. White votes? In 2012 Romney got 59 percent, while Trump slipped to 57 percent.  Hispanics? Up one point compared to 2012. Born-again Christians? Little change, 2012-2016, with 79 percent going to the GOP. 

Ezra Klein makes this case in his valuable book, Why We’re Polarized. Democrats are locked into voting for Ds (96 percent), and the same figure for Republicans. We’re stuck. It’s more like the revenge of the normal than the rescue by the normies.

To be sure, the 2022 midterms had unusual features, notably the growing toxicity of Trump, the rousing of women voters by the Dobbs decision on abortion, and the tide of young voters, now heavily Democratic. Less salient was the suburban fear of urban crime, with Portland and Seattle portrayed as sinister places (with a racist undertone). 

Even so, we remain polarized and equally matched, even as some states (Michigan and Florida and Colorado) move from swing to clear partisan alignment. There was a little adjustment toward the center in Washington state, but mostly that just meant incumbents and anointed successors prevailed. When will a new weather system blow in? Not for a while, I suspect, with Ron DeSantis at age 44 wisely deciding to wait for Hurricane Don to blow itself out. 

David Brewster
David Brewster
David Brewster, a founding member of Post Alley, has a long career in publishing, having founded Seattle Weekly, Sasquatch Books, and His civic ventures have been Town Hall Seattle and FolioSeattle.


  1. I’m on the liberal side of the ledger but not so open-minded my brains fall out. So it was satisfying to see the far lefties put in the timeout box.
    The gentle lady from Washington state may sit back along with AOC and the hole in the wall gang if the D’s are in the minority.
    However, since many of them can’t save themselves from selves we’ll have to wait and see if they are hell bent of making only left turns.

  2. Fascinating New York Times opinion piece this morning by Frank Bruni. He unveils his list of potential candidates if — and maybe not even if — Biden decides not to run in 2024. Amazing how many on his roll call were moderates (normals? By whose standards?) Only left-of-center AOC was really considered and she not so much.
    Bruni called out intriguing prospects, although his list was mostly white and mostly bunch of the guys. You had to think that Michelle Obama, who has never expressed presidential aspirations, was thrown in there for diversity.

  3. BIDEN – FETTERMAN /// 2024

    ///sarcasm off///
    Truth and honesty may never recover from 2022’s ‘fast and loose’ and ‘D’ girls are no longer allowed to marry outside their religion; sadly ‘R’ girls won’t intermarry either. Most/many prominent political party leaders on both sides are too old, too tired, and no longer very wise. Perception of improprieties is everywhere and suggests that systemic corruption is common and accepted practice.

    ///sarcasm on///
    On one hand “They may be a scoundrels, but they are our scoundrels,” . . . and on the other hand, we should have thrown at least a few of the bums out!

  4. Liz Cheney described it as a win for “team normal.” The hint of normalcy the returns reflect is reassuring but is it indicative of a real trend?

  5. I don’t have much to add to other opinions except to say that I’m not so sure what normal looks like. Great for Ds to hold the Senate (judge nominations et al ) but the Rd can create a lot of strife in the House. And there is 2024!!!

  6. It wasn’t a triumph for normalcy as much as it was a triumph for our liberal media, which is a potent propaganda arm for the Democrat party. Not that there isn’t propaganda on the right. Its just a matter of the number of team members, which is sort of 1 player for the conservatives to everyone else for the liberals. -Kind of like a game where the officials have been paid off to throw the game to one side. The projected red-tide wasn’t muted so much by issues important to voters, such as abortion. It was muted by the continued onslaught of liberal media. David’s line; ‘But the two parties remain at equal strength’, is untrue because the left has the broad range of print, electronic, and social media firmly on their side. Post Alley is a good example. There are zero conservative writers on this channel. There is no balance, or even an attempt at balance in share-of-voice. Some of the posts prior to the election read like political ads for the Democrat candidate. Readers, particularly young readers, are persuaded that all the liberal bias is somehow mainstream because there is no counterpoint. Threat to democracy?? The biggest threat, by far, is our media. It clearly has altered the outcomes of our elections and will continue to be a deciding factor in the future.

    • We have conservative voices, and have just added a few more. Other than trolls, they are hard to find and to hold. Send good ones our way!

    • Gosh, your response reflects a standard talking point of the most Republicans. When all else fails blame the media. Sad. Maybe concentrate on the voters. They said enough of the crazies and picked another lane. And, using the liberals as boogiemen is less than factual as most of the crazies were defeated by middle of the road candidates.

  7. “The media” are blamed for so much, and not just these days. I think of the media as a sort of mirror, reflecting a highly filtered version of US. The voices in the media are representative of voices in our society, generalized, summarized and put into bite-sized, easily digestible news and commentary. ”
    I’ll pose a hypothetical question: Is there in fact a liberal bias in “the Media”? If so, then I believe it is because a goodly portion of American society — at least the part that thinks in political terms — tends towards a ‘liberal’ interpretation of its conditions, needs, and directions. Of course there are media outlets which are decidedly NOT biased toward liberal viewpoints, but that certainly would not in and of itself qualify them as “unbiased.”
    If news media were to adopt a totally neutral tone towards the news, I think the result would be a sham affectation, a pretend view of events as if the reporters were robots — and not the AI sort. The best an outlet can do to correct its own bias is a) recognize that it has one and b) invite in other voices which are biased in a contrary direction. Post Alley seems to be trying to do just that.

  8. Yuval Levin comments that the 2022 election carries the risk of ratifying the status quo, which means neither party truly changes to meet the voters, just as happened in 2020. This valuable contrarian writes: “Democrats are generally farther from the median voter than they were a decade ago, particularly on cultural issues, education, crime and immigration. The party increasingly represents an unpopular cultural elite, and the agenda required to hold its coalition together makes for poor general-election strategy in many places.”


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