Ehrlich: A Powerful Movement Seeks to Transform the USA - The Stakes Have Never Been Higher


It is now approximately eight weeks since President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address and, as expected, most Americans would be hard-pressed to recite any memorable words or phrases from the occasion.

Alas, the age of social media and a relentless 24/7 news cycle ensure that every president’s SOTU is soon forgotten. Throw this president’s staid style into the mix and the speech’s shelf life shrinks even further.

All of which makes it noteworthy that Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ official response still generates buzz, on the right and the left. The talk was well-written, well-delivered and crushed the always-low expectations for such an appearance.

One memorable line continues to reverberate. In framing the latest iteration of America’s culture wars, the governor went for the jugular: “The choice is between normal and crazy.”

Such a piercing choice of words (of course) triggered the usual suspects. A typical chorus of “vicious conservative” was the considered response from the easily triggered left.

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This got me thinking about the point in time when the progressive political program abruptly shifted from the traditional to… what Sanders said.

For context, many of you will easily recall the good ol’ days circa six years ago, or really any point in time prior to the election of 2016.

It was during these years that the major political parties fought over large and important issues: defense spending and health insurance and Roe v. Wade and capital gains tax rates and trade deals. Your Econ 101 professor used to differentiate the parties’ respective priorities in rather simple terms: “More guns or more butter?”

And then things changed in the blink of an eye:

  • Police department budgets were cut or defunded.
  • Cashless bail replaced… bail.
  • Domestic energy independence was jettisoned.
  • A Supreme Court nominee could not define the word “woman.”
  • Border walls were deemed “racist.”
  • Illegal migrants were given the right to vote in some local elections.
  • Parents were told to butt out of their children’s education.
  • Toddlers were branded “oppressor” or “oppressed.”
  •  A man was declared a women’s swimming champion.
  • We were assured the world was (literal) toast in 10 years.
  • Speech codes on campus replaced free speech.
  • School districts began eliminating gifted and talented courses.
  • The Pentagon bought into “woke” hook, line and sinker.
  • Gas stoves were targeted by federal and state regulators.
  • Our southern border was opened to the world.

That many of these initiatives took root or metastasized as a reaction to the tenure of the uninvited disruptor, Donald J. Trump, is a matter of historical record. Indeed, the shocking election result of 2016 sent most of America’s power centers over the proverbial cliff.

But history will reflect that the establishment quickly coalesced around a common goal: Trump (and “America First”) had to be taken down, and the good ol’ USA had to be transformed.

And so an equally disruptive movement was hatched. It defeated the mean tweet machine from Queens… and has now indicted him. It has steadily gained acceptance within one of our major parties. It is extremely well-funded and viewed approvingly by many who rent space in our cultural power centers: Big Tech, the legacy media, academia, Hollywood and professional sports leagues.

Most important, it is focused on transforming just about everything viewed as traditional in America.

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Back to Sanders’ speech. The really big question for 2024 is whether “crazy” will continue to carry the day or whether “normal” will make a long-postponed reappearance.

Some say the stakes have never been higher — that a successful transformation would be difficult to walk back. Most of us flyover types tend to agree.

The views expressed in this opinion article are those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by the owners of this website. If you are interested in contributing an Op-Ed to The Western Journal, you can learn about our submission guidelines and process here.

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Robert Ehrlich is a former governor of Maryland as well as a former U.S. congressman and state legislator. He is the author of “Bet You Didn’t See That One Coming: Obama, Trump, and the End of Washington’s Regular Order,” in addition to “Turn This Car Around,” “America: Hope for Change" and “Turning Point.” Ehrlich is currently a counsel at the firm of King & Spalding in Washington, D.C.