There are good things to be said for "One Nation After Trump," a survival guide to our current dilemma by Thomas Mann, Norman Ornstein, and E.J. Dionne. Among them is the authors' acknowledgement that our recent election was less a spasm of rage than a reaction to the severe and uneven depression that settled in on some parts of the country in the past 30 years, to which politicians of both major parties had paid no attention at all.
Less promising, however, is their belief that Democrats can become the core of a fusionist movement -- unlikely in a party moving hard to the Left and imposing a new litmus test in support of late-term abortion. Even more strange is their claim that the Republican Party brought Trump about by shattering norms of behavior, saying the Tea Party abolished civility. The real smashers of norms have always been Democrats, who began their assaults in the late 1980's, and haven't stopped smashing them since.
To Mann, Ornstein, and Dionne, Ted Kennedy did nothing wrong when he took to the floor of the Senate in 1987 to unleash a tirade against Robert Bork that would have been considered unhinged in a campaign context, but was unheard of against a high court nominee. Bork failed to fight back, and the Court and the Senate were altered forever -- or, as Kevin Williamson would say later, "The Democrats' craven, despicable, lying campaign against Bork announced the arrival of Supreme Court confirmation hearings as bare knuckled political brawls."
Nor can the authors acknowledge that the Democrats did much wrong four years later, when in their attempt to derail a non-white conservative they turned another court hearing into a he-said-she-said contention over which of two Yale Law School alumni seemed to be nuttier, in which charges of lying, malice, predation, and sexual weirdness of different dimensions were flung.
By their lights, Democrats did nothing wrong either in 2001, when, terrified that a Hispanic conservative might be put in line for a Supreme Court nomination they filibustered the nomination of Miguel Estrada for an entire two years, during which his health and work suffered, and at the end of which his wife would miscarry and die. No words of regret for the party of women, even from one for which "reproductive healthcare" had become an obsession, except when it threatened a court nomination, during which no holds whatsoever were barred.
Nor could they acknowledge that Barack Obama did anything to smash civic norms in 2010, when, after Scott Brown's election deprived him of his 60th vote for the passage of health care, he rammed it through anyhow using parliamentary technicalities, breaking the norm that large, complex measures should be passed by a large and bipartisan margins and backed up by popular will.
Student radicals aligned with the left broke no norms whatever when they greeted conservative speakers with riots and violence; nor did gay rights advocates when they threatened those who believed in traditional marriage, trying to cut off their sources of income through boycotts of businesses, or having them fired from jobs.
There was nothing norm-breaking about forcing Brendan Eich from the board of Mozilla because of a political donation he had made six years earlier; about Democratic politicians wanting to revoke the licenses of Chick Fil-A restaurants because of the views of the owners; about Dianne Feinstein trying to keep Catholics from serving as judges; about Hillary Clinton saying that in order to serve the interests of liberal activists, "deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed."
So we're to believe that the Tea Party is the norm-breaking event, not the decision to take on 5,000 and 2,000 years of religious tradition in a country founded on biblical principles. It's pretty hard to keep reading once that premise has been established.
Noemie Emery, a Washington Examiner columnist, is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and author of "Great Expectations: The Troubled Lives of Political Families."