The new normal, by John Carlin


I don't know if they noticed, but last week it was categorically confirmed, beyond any doubt or confusion generated by their favorite sport, the fake news , that the president of the United States is a thief.

A judge in New York sentenced him to pay a fine of two million dollars for having used money from the foundation that bears his name to finance political activities, pay business debts and buy a portrait of himself to hang in one of his hotels. There was no discussion. Donald Trump confessed everything in documents presented to the court and acknowledged among other things that he used $ 2.8 million in donations for war veterans for his own election campaign.

Tremendous, but not as tremendous as the fact that the sentence has gone almost unnoticed. Stealing money from the poor to give to the rich has been a capital sin in all geographies, all cultures and all ages. No longer. The news was forgotten in a couple of hours. Trump's presidential suit is so covered in shit that one more spot, one less spot, we don't even realize. The unacceptable becomes normal.

And not only in the United States. The Joker that inhabits the White House is nothing more than an extravagant cartoon of a syndrome, let's call it a loss of moral compass, which today has half humanity. Take as an example a couple of European democracies that end the year in full electoral fever.

In England, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a biographer and in his dreams heir to Winston Churchill, is not a thief, to be known, but he is the king of lies. A former minister of his very conservative party wrote this week that Johnson was a "compulsive liar who has betrayed every person he has dealt with." Brexit is the decision of more weight and greater consequence that the United Kingdom has had to take since World War II, but, demonstrating an epic frivolity, Johnson has not stopped lying since the 2016 referendum campaign until the current campaign to the general elections held on December 12.

He lies, people know he lies, he must know that people know he lies, but all so happy. The democracy for which so many gave their sweat, their tears and their lives rusts and corrodes, but nothing happens. This is what they call in English the new normal , the new normal.

In Spain at least they have the excuse of having had democracy for only four decades, not 400 years. Although for that reason one would think that they would be taking care of her a little better.

People say nothing, will continue to say nothing, and the unacceptable becomes normal

What has attracted the most attention outside Spain of the general elections last weekend has been the spectacular boom of the extreme right, represented in the Vox party: from 0 to 52 deputies in record time; the rebirth of the Francoist phoenix of the ashes of the Valley of the Fallen. You know, Vox shares with other similar parties in Europe xenophobia, sexism, bully nationalism, etc., and so on. On Friday, a deputy from Vox said that "feminism is cancer", that she fears "lesboterrorism" and that what really empowers women is to "sew a button". But it is not because of this kind of ridiculousness that Vox is even more to the right than, for example, the English UKIP or the French National Front.

What makes the difference is that Vox has as its official policy the criminalization of opposition political parties. The leaders of Vox say with all naturalness that the day they come to power they will declare the separatist parties of Catalonia and the Basque Country illegal and put their imprisoned leaders, something similar to what the governments of Venezuela and Russia do today with their dissidents. Three and a half million Spaniards hear that this is Vox's policy, they nod their heads and, naturally, go to the polls convinced that Vox is the right party to govern their country today, in the 21st century, 44 years after Franco's death.

As you see here and as you have seen this week in quantities of articles and videos and memes, it is very easy to denounce Vox and his followers and laugh at them. It is more difficult to understand how it is that a sixth of the Spanish population has voted for them and about half accept them as a normal political phenomenon.

I offer you a clue, the lines of a poem many times quoted: “First they came for the Socialists, and I didn't say anything… Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't say anything… Then they came for me, and there was no one left to say any".

They see him? That Vox has become normal is the logical and natural consequence of the fact that the vast majority of Spaniards on the left, center and right have found it normal that, first, the justice system of their target country in jail for two years, without trial, nine Catalan politicians who neither committed violent acts, nor incited anyone to commit them; and, second, that they thought it normal for them to be sentenced to nine to 13 years. So normal that almost nobody said anything.

I think about this from here in London and I wonder, every day, “where is the outrage?”. Outrage You cannot translate into Spanish with one word. It means something like "furious indignation at something unfair or immoral." I look at the scandal of prisoners in Spain, I try to hear something, but from outrage , no peep. They will denounce that they put politicians imprisoned without trial in Venezuela or Russia, but ours, the indepes, bah. People shrug their shoulders. It says nothing. And they will continue to say nothing until it is too late and Vox comes to power and, in a manner consistent with the current judicial logic against the Catalan prisoners, put prisoners for “sedition” to the men and women of the well-wisher left who today votes for the PSOE or Podemos, to those people who are progressive and decent to whom it seems normal today, no reason for scandal, that there are politicians in prison.

As it seems normal to the English that their prime minister, whom the majority will vote next month, is a liar without honor and without principles; as it seems normal to half of the Americans so much that their president is a thief as he faces today a impeachment for gangster, for trying to threaten and bribe the president of a vulnerable friend country.

Little by little, the moral pillars on which democracy relies are falling apart

And so, little by little, the moral pillars on which democracy rests are falling apart and the necessary consensus is broken so that democracy continues to function or make sense. Welcome to new
normal . Hopefully what comes next will be better.

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