Desensitized

Jon Chait noted yesterday that the moving goalposts for what constitutes the mainstream just isn’t healthy.

The GOP’s willingness to undermine the full faith and credit of the Treasury in pursuit of anti-tax fundamentalism is shocking now, but eventually it will come to be seen as simply part of the process.

Kevin Drum added that the “new normal kind of sucks.”

In the same way that Wall Street hoovering up a third of all corporate profits is the new normal. Or that 9% unemployment is the new normal. Or that obstruction, rather than legislation, is the new normal for Congress. Or that massive spending cuts during a recession is the new normal. Or that conducting three overseas wars at the same time is the new normal.

I mention this, not only because I agree with Jon and Kevin, but because it’s part of how I approach my work — I hate to see the political world desensitized to what often strikes me as madness.

A couple of years ago, Senate Republicans decided they would filibuster literally every measure of any significance, and the political world simply yawned, as if it were normal. It wasn’t. The Senate didn’t used to work this way, it wasn’t designed to work this way, and it can’t work this way, but the tactics were just accepted as routine. An outrageous abuse was simply the new normal.

It’s become a nearly-daily problem. We have prominent figures — presidential candidates, governors, high-profile members of Congress — saying and doing all kinds of scandalous things, like calling for the elimination of the EPA, condemning the Civil Rights Act, going after child-labor laws and the minimum wage, voting to end Medicare, threatening to crash the global economy on purpose, and yet, shrugged shoulders are a fairly common response, especially with the political elite.

Growing inured to the new normal is kind of depressing.