June 24th, 2011
07:30 PM ET

Letters to the President: #886 'The new normal? Hardly'

Reporter's Note: President Obama works pretty hard. But then the rest of us do too these days, or we don’t work at all. Tough choices.

Dear Mr. President,

I’ve never been a particular fan of this phrase “accepting the new normal.” I hear people toss it around after some kind of cataclysmic event, and I understand what it means - it is all about letting go of how your world was before and accepting how it is now. But like I said, I don’t much like it. Why?

First: This is much easier said than done. For most of us to get through a day without going crazy, we have to have some faith that certain things are going to go pretty much as we expect. The trains have to run reasonably on time. Work needs to start and end within some sort of accepted parameters. The steak has to be on the grill for 4 minutes a side. Without such continuity, we end up floundering and feeling as if we simply can’t count on anything.

Second: Accepting a new standard can certainly be good, when the standard is good; but it can also be a pitiful flag of surrender. “I accept the new normal, because I am beaten; because I can no longer defend the ramparts of life as I have known it.”

Lately I’ve heard a fair number of political and economic types hinting that this is the way we are heading as a nation. They are suggesting the “new normal” that we must accept includes a lower standard of living, a higher unemployment rate, houses that aren’t worth what we paid for them, empty savings accounts, schools that are mediocre, and on and on. In short, they whisper that the new normal is a Second Class America.

Here is the thing: I don’t think many Americans are ready for that, and neither you, nor any of the challengers who hope to take your job next year had better accept it. There is nothing “normal” at all for Americans in failing. It is not the DNA of the country to accept that. And frankly, if it becomes so…I really will fear for our ability to dig out of this economic hole.


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Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

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