3.11.2020 – call for normalcy

call for normalcy
meant to say normality
he said normalty

A candidate for the Presidency has called for a Return to Normalcy.

I have to ask, is the Candidate or the campaign handlers aware of the history of “Return to Normalcy?”

After 10 ballots and discussions in a smoke filled room, Warren G. Harding came out of the 1920 Republican Convention in Chicago as the party’s candidate for President.

Mr. Harding ran on the slogan, “Return to Normalcy.”

Saying in a speech in Boston on May 14, 1920, Mr. Harding said, “America’s present need is not heroics, but healing; not nostrums, but normalcy; not revolution, but restoration; not agitation, but adjustment; not surgery, but serenity; not the dramatic, but the dispassionate; not experiment, but equipoise; not submergence in internationality, but sustainment in triumphant nationality.”

I was taught that the speech was written as “not nostrums, but normality.”

I was also taught that the candidate delivered the speech as “not nostrums, but normalty.

My teaching went on that the press of the day in quoting the speech wrote down “not nostrums, but normalcy.

What was said, heard and recorded became a side story of the 1920 campaign.

According to an article in the Guardian, “Samuel Gompers complained that “Senator Harding does not use the word ‘normal’. He speaks of ‘normalcy’. The word is obsolete, and so is the condition to which he would return”.

And the Daily Chronicle of London kept the embers warm by sneering, in April of 1921, “Mr. Harding is accustomed to take desperate ventures in the coinage of new words.”

Poor Warren G Harding: “normalcy” had been in use (albeit in specialized contexts) from 1857, as had all other words he was accused of having coined in equal parts idiocy and elitism.

But his legacy was quickly established. “His mind was vague and fuzzy”, Frederick Allen writes in 1931:Its quality was revealed in the clogged style of his public addresses, in his choice of turgid and maladroit language (“non-involvement” in European affairs, “adhesion” to a treaty), and in his frequent attacks of suffix trouble (“normalcy” for normality, “betrothement” for betrothal).” Obama didn’t use improper grammar. Cut him and other public figures a break (Oct 29, 2018)

What is fascintating is Mr. Harding’s defense of the word.

Mr. Harding took on a Trumpian point of view and to deny that use of the normalcy was incorrect.

He went so far to say that normality was not a word and stated publicly, “I have noticed that word caused considerable news editors to change it to “normality”. I have looked for “normality” in my dictionary and I do not find it there. “Normalcy”, however, I did find, and it is a good word.”

So the Candidate wants a return to nomalcy.

I have no problem with that.

Presidential campaigns have been noted for repeated stumbles, miscues and mental lapses.

And this campaign looks to Harding for inspiration?

Maybe it will work out for them.

As Mr. Harding himself said later, “Every student has the ability to be a successful learner.”

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