Victor Davis Hanson

Category Archives: Political Culture

Our Neutron Bomb Election

 by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review

The shells of our institutions maybe survive the 2016 campaign, but they will be mere husks.

The infamous neutron bomb was designed to melt human flesh without damaging infrastructure.

Something like it has blown up lots of people in the 2016 election and left behind empty institutions.

After the current campaign — the maverick Trump candidacy, the Access Hollywood Trump tape, the FBI scandal, the Freedom of Information Act revelations, the WikiLeaks insider scoops on the Clinton campaign, the hacked e-mails, the fraudulent pay-for-play culture of the Clinton Foundation — the nuked political infrastructure may look the same. But almost everyone involved in the election has been neutroned. Read more →

The Case for Trump

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review
Conservatives should vote for the Republican nominee. Donald Trump needs a unified Republican party in the homestretch if he is to have any chance left of catching Hillary Clinton — along with winning higher percentages of the college-educated and women than currently support him. But even before the latest revelations from an eleven-year-old Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump crudely talked about women, he had long ago in the primaries gratuitously insulted his more moderate rivals and their supporters. He bragged about his lone-wolf candidacy and claimed that his polls were — and would be — always tremendous — contrary to his present deprecation of them. Is it all that surprising that some in his party and some independents, who felt offended, swear that they will not stoop to vote for him when in extremis he now needs them? Or that party stalwarts protest that they no longer wish to be associated with a malodorous albatross hung around their neck?

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From Greek tragedy to American therapy

From Greek tragedy to American therapy


The Greeks gave us tragedy — the idea that life is never fair. Terrible stuff for no reason tragically falls on good people. Life’s choices are sometimes only between the bad and the far worse.

In the plays of the ancient dramatists Aeschylus and Sophocles, heroism and nobility only arise out of tragedies.

The tragic hero refuses to blame the gods for his terrible fate. Instead, a Prometheus, Ajax or Oedipus prefers to fight against the odds. He thereby establishes a code of honor, even as defeat looms.

In contrast, modern Americans gave the world therapy.

Life must always be fair. If not, something or someone must be blamed. All good people deserve only a good life — or else.

A nation of victims soon becomes collectively paralyzed in fear of offending someone. Pay down the $20 trillion debt? Reform the unsustainable Social Security system? Ask the 47 percent of the population that pays no income tax to at least pay some?

Nope. Victims would allege that such belt-tightening is unfair and impossible — and hurtful to boot. So we do nothing as the rendezvous with financial collapse gets ever closer.

Does anyone think a culture of whiners can really build high-speed rail in California? Even its supporters want the noisy tracks built somewhere away from their homes.

Even animals get in on the new victimhood. To build a reservoir in drought-stricken California means oppressing the valley elderberry longhorn beetle or ignoring the feelings of the foothill yellow-legged frog.
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The Construct of the White Working-Class Zombies

Hillary Clinton’s ‘deplorables’ have their antecedents in Obama’s ‘deplorables.’

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Trump Up, Hillary Down, Obama Out

Without traditional battle lines to fight over, Hillary Clinton is lying low while a frenetic Donald Trump talks nonstop.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Who Are Those Darned “Elites”?

Defining Ideas

The United States and Europe are seeing a surge in populist anger toward the so-called elites. The German public, for example, is furious at Chancellor Angela Merkel for her position on immigration from the Middle East. British voters have forsaken the postmodern European Union. And working class Americans have rallied around political outsider Donald Trump as their presidential favorite, something that neither the Clinton machine nor the establishment of the Republican Party anticipated.

But who exactly are these unpopular elites—and what exactly have they done that has enraged middle-class voters in Western democracies?

Since ancient times, elites have been defined various ways, sometimes by birth (the Greeks’ hoi aristoi), by capital (hoi plousioi), by perceived class (hoi oligoi), by acknowledged influence (hoi gnorimoi), by high culture (hoi beltistoi)—and sometimes by a combination of all of the above.

Today, people are especially mad at political elites, a loose term for those who govern at the state and federal level. They include not just our elected legislators, governors, and President, but also the unelected (and unaccountable) members of the vast government archipelago—cabinet officers, bureaucratic grandees, top military officers, and regulators. Beyond these politicos, the Western elite is comprised, too, of the transnational mega-wealthy, who have been enriched by globalization, especially international finance, investments, and technologies that lubricate worldwide dissemination of capital and communications.

An elite is also defined by education (preferably Ivy League and its coastal counterparts), residence (primarily between Boston and Washington on the East Coast, and from San Diego to Berkeley on the Pacific), profession (executive positions in government, media, law, foundations, the arts, and academia), celebrity (name recognition from television, Hollywood, network news, finance, etc.), and ideology, such as those prominent in the progressive movement. To receive a glimpse of our next generation of elites, read the betrothal notices in The New York Times, look at the interns at Goldman Sachs, and consider the junior faculty at Harvard. Read more →

Three Modest Propositions


By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

Politics, Not Personalities, Will Likely Determine the Presidential Election

The candidates may be unconventional, but their political agendas fall along a conventional divide.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

At first glance, 2016 sizes up as no other election year in American history.

For more than 30 years, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been high-profile and controversial celebrities. Both have been plagued by scandals and are viewed negatively by millions of voters. Clinton is facing possible federal indictment; Trump is being sued over Trump University.

If elected, Clinton would be first female president in U.S. history. If Trump prevails, he would be the first president to assume office without having held a political or cabinet office or a high military rank.

Yet the race still could prove more conventional than unorthodox.

Trump is considered uniquely crude. But take some of our most iconic political figures and one can find comparable extremist rhetoric.

As California governor, Ronald Reagan once said of University of California at Berkeley protesters, “If it takes a bloodbath, let’s get it over with. No more appeasement.” When the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped heiress Patty Hearst and forced her family to distribute food to the poor, Reagan quipped, “It’s just too bad we can’t have an epidemic of botulism.”

Barack Obama has scoffed this his own grandmother was a “typical white person,” called on his supporters to “get in their face” of his opponents, invoked a variation of the phrase “bring a gun to a knife fight” in an attempt to fire up supporters during his first presidential campaign, and compared his own bad bowling to the supposed competition level of the Special Olympics.
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Class, Trump, and the Election

If the ‘high IQs’ of the establishment have let America down, where is a voter to turn?

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online


Donald Trump seems to have offended almost every possible identity group. But the New York billionaire still also seems to appeal to the working classes (in part no doubt precisely because he has offended so many special-interest factions; in part because he was seen in the primaries as an outsider using his own money; in part because he seems a crude man of action who dislikes most of those of whom Middle America is tired). At this point, his best hope in November, to the extent such a hope exists, rests on turning 2016 into a referendum on class and a collective national interest that transcends race and gender — and on emphasizing the sad fact that America works now mostly for an elite, best epitomized by Clinton, Inc.

We should not underestimate the opportunities for approaching traditional issues from radically different perspectives. The National Rifle Association is running the most effective ads in its history, hitting elites who wish to curtail gun ownership on the part of those who are not afforded the security blankets of the wealthy. Why should not an inner-city resident wish to buy a legal weapon, when armed security guards patrol America’s far safer gated communities? For most of the Clintons’ adult lives, they have been accompanied by men and women with concealed weapons to ensure their safety — on the premise that firearms, not mace, not Tasers, not knives or clubs, alone would ultimately keep the two safe.

Fracking provides jobs and cheaper fuel; the elites of the Democratic party care about neither. Indeed, Barack Obama and Energy Secretary Steven Chu proclaimed their desire for spiraling gas and electricity prices. Boutique environmentalism is a losing issue for the Democrats. The very wealthy can afford to be more concerned for a three-inch smelt than for irrigation water that will ensure that there are jobs for tractor drivers and affordable food for the less-well-off. When Hillary Clinton talks about putting miners out of work, she’s talking about people she has no desire to see unless she needs their votes.
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Hillary’s Sputtering Campaign

Facing a free-wheeling Trump, she is weighted down by tons of baggage.

By Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online
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