A friend of Greece and regular visitor to the country, Victor Davis Hanson is a rare breed of American intellectual: The professor of classics and military history at the California State University and senior fellow in classics and military history at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute has supported Donald Trump in a number of books and articles.
In an email interview with Kathimerini, Hanson offered his opinion on recent developments in Washington, shedding light from a conservative angle on a number of issues that define modern America.
Do you think that Trump went too far in inciting violence, ignoring the fact that in the previous two months all legislatures in disputed states and all judges had already decided that the claims of a “stolen election” were baseless, proving that there was no election fraud?
Trump had a right to lodge legitimate inquiries about election irregularities given 100 million voted by mail or through “early voting” before Election Day – 61 percent of the voting electorate. Traditional authentication was impossible under those Covid-19 rules. All agree that in many key states voting laws were wrongly changed by local magistrates and judges. But whether these and other egregious laxities in voting would have given Trump the strategically located ca. 42,000 votes (out of 165 million cast) necessary to win the key states for an Electoral College victory was uncertain. After the second week in December, when the state electors were chosen, there was almost no chance of changing the election. And at the point it should have been in Trump’s interest to concede, galvanize conservatives to save the Republican senate by winning the two seats in the runoff election in Georgia, and then to play the loyal opposition as the country from 2021-22 might well tire of what will likely be the most radically left-wing agenda enacted since 1964 or 1932. Instead, he persisted, alienated swing voters, appeared a sore loser and gave the impression to his supporters that the election results would be overturned – again an impossibility. The storming of the Capitol by splinter groups from the massive protests [on January 6] – rightly condemned by conservatives in a way the summer Antifa and BLM nightly rioting and looting was not by the Left – essentially made him politically inert. Trump’s recent but belated concession, and calls for unity and calm may be too little too late to save his legacy – but then in second-chance America maybe not.
Will political conflict persist in the US or have we witnessed the end of the Trump era of division and hatred?
Trump was a symptom not a catalyst of the hatred. Radical changes due to globalization, enormous concentrations of wealth on the coasts, 50 million non-native-born residents, and a hollowed out manufacturing and assembly industry all created a new volatility. His sin was replying back in kind to the attacks of the Left crudely and in a way Bush, McCain and Romney did not. He also sought not to stop but to roll back the entire left-wing agenda, and by February 2020, in the pre-Covid months, might well have been re-elected given a booming economy, secure borders, a calmer world abroad and his victory over the special prosecutor, the impeachment conviction effort, and the media’s nonstop assaults. Almost all of the so-called administrative state, the rich, and the permanent bureaucracy, academia, the media, and entertainment despised him for both cultural and political reasons.
After March 2020, the pandemic, the recession, the lockdown, the George Floyd death, the months of looting, arson, and protest and radical changes in voting laws all empowered the Left and finally undid Trump – as did his own constant tweets and fiery feuding that estranged moderate and swing suburban voters. The Left will not try to unite the country; its aim is instead to transform the country into something like a European democratic socialist state, if not more leftward still. This is not the Democratic Party of old, but a progressive movement that seeks an “equality-of-result” society and demands the power to enforce its ideological aims.
Could we say that the core of the political energy that sustains the Trump movement might have something to do with the politics of race and the fact that a core white constituency cannot accept that the blacks can have equal access to the democratic electoral process?
That was the complaint the Left made against Trump. But Trump’s critics were bewildered by his ability to increase black support to 15% and Latino support to 35%, largely by redefining the once-elite establishment Republican Party as a populist workers party, in which class commonalities replaced racial solidarity. You may have an antiquated sense of binaries. The US is not a 90-10 white/black society, but rather a 67% white / 33% Latino, Asian, black country in which increasingly the largest growing group is of those of so-called mixed race. Intermarriage between ethnic and racial groups is now normative and insidiously replacing these rigid racial categories of the past, and with decreased illegal immigration, assimilation and integration accelerate. It is actually the Democratic Party that in anachronistic fashion seeks to cling to identity politics and a salad-bowl separatism rather than the melting pot. There have been tremendous changes in American political parties in the last 20 years. The Democratic Party outspends Republicans 2-1 in political races, and is fueled by the staggering bicoastal wealth of Wall Street and Silicon Valley; it is a party of the very rich and subsidized poor and does not like the culture or values of the middle classes, which now overwhelmingly vote Republican. Trump’s fiercest critics were both rich, never-Trump corporate Republicans and woke bicoastal liberal elites.
Would you say that moves by Democrats for Trump’s second impeachment and the locking of his social media accounts serve to control or further embolden the so-called “Trump movement” that questions the very legitimacy of the elections and the credibility of the government and the judiciary?
The efforts of “Big Tech” to ban Trump and many of his supporters, while Apple, Google etc in concert made it almost impossible for a conservative site like Parler to exist, are reflections of a Salem Witch trial madness sparked by the trifecta of Trump’s loss, the Capitol violence, and the Republican loss of the Senate. Hysteria reigns as books by conservatives are now canceled, thousands kicked off social media, radio hosts fired etc. We are in a sort of left-wing version of the Corleone “Godfather” cinema family “taking care of business” all at once. Yet this new McCarthyism will prove an Orwellian mistake, and constitute one of the greatest political blunders in modern US history. Think of the Ayatollah Khamenei calling for the destruction of Israel on Twitter with impunity or Antifa announcing planning sessions for their next riot, on Facebook with impunity – juxtaposed to social media banning those who merely showed up in Washington at a peaceful rally and did not join the violent splinter group who stormed the halls of Congress.
In contrast, again, the current Vice President Harris earlier had called for the more protests this summer. Many were violent and occasionally lethal, resulting in mass looting, death and arson by Antifa and BLM. She worked to bail out those arrested for street violence. The public is tiring of such asymmetries. US publishers all the time publish books like “In Defense of Looting” – a manifesto supporting the mass theft from stores this summer. So there is no consistency in the current violations of free speech. And the effort to remove Trump before his tenure not only failed, but showed his opponents as small-minded and vindictive and further divided a 50/50 divided country. The attempt to coordinate Big Tech to destroy the conservative opposition’s means of communicating with the public came by design on the eve of the most revolutionary moments in modern history to come: Very soon the Left’s plans to end the 180-year Senate filibuster, the 234-year Electoral College, the 60-year 50-state union (by adding Puerto Rico and Washington DC), and the 150-year-old nine-person Supreme Court – and now will have its critics de-platformed from social media or afraid to express objections in fear of being banned.
The 5-trillion-dollar Silicon Valley monopolies – who gave directly over $200 million to the Biden campaign and $500 million to particular voting precincts and registrars deemed valuable in encouraging turnout vital to their agendas – use the public airways, and are supposedly forbidden by anti-trust laws from conspiring to destroy competition. So I think when the madness ceases, there will be calls to apply anti-trusts laws to these modern octopuses. They in so many ways use their cartels and fortunes in the manner the railroads, and the oil companies did in the 19th century – before they were broken up and regulated. That is a long answer, yes, the hysterical giddiness at the Trump loss and the unfortunate Capitol violence, coupled with overreach by Leftists who now control the government, will in time lead to a reaction itself. This is America, where free speech and expression cannot be wiped out in a preplanned hit by Silicon Valley to aid a political agenda, whose radicalism will turn off the public.