Looking forward to the 21st century, then-President Bill Clinton promised an optimistic nation that he would be a bridge to the future, while warning that Republican Bob Dole, his opponent in 1996, would be a bridge to the past.
Nearly a quarter-century of turmoil later, an increasingly pessimistic America—relentlessly immersed in chaos and toxicity—might make a different bet. It might not make as clever a slogan, but a bridge to the recent past doesn’t sound so bad. At least, that’s what Joe Biden is banking on.
To be sure, Biden is not hearkening to a Trumpy “America First” past. He is not some hidebound figure hoping to take us back to the 1940s or ’50s. The nostalgia he’s tapping into is decidedly less ambitious. He doesn’t want a return to Mayberry, just a return to normalcy.