Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

The Deplorables Shout Back

Struggling rural America proved disenchanted with the country’s trajectory into something like a continental version of Belgium or the Netherlands: borderless, with a global rather than national sense of self; identity politics in lieu of unity and assimilation; a statist and ossified economy with a few winners moralizing to lots of losers—perhaps as a way of alleviating transitory guilt over their own privilege.

The full lessons of the 2016 election are still being digested (or indeed amplified), but one constant is emerging that the world outside our bi-coastal dynamic, hip, and affluent culture is not very well understood by those who lead the country.

 The Left feels that the interior is a veritable cultural wasteland of obesity, Christianists, nihilist self-destructive behavior, and evenings that shut down at dusk in desperate need of federal moral and regulatory oversight. Read more →

Tear down this dam?

Getty Images

Thousands living downstream from its desperate cascading water releases are evacuating their homes in Hollywood disaster-film fashion. Something premodern and apocalyptic like this was not supposed to have happened in a postmodern California of Google, Hollywood, and Napa Valley wineries.

California’s politicians and pundits in recent years of drought swore the state was entering a cycle of permanent drought (and thus saw no need to start construction on a single dam to store the rain and snow that supposedly would not return). Instead, they warned of the “settled science” of climate change and the need for permanent conservation and restrictions—even as near record storms this year have pushed California’s snow and rain levels in many places to over 200 percent of normal, well beyond the ability of our now ossified water projects to store the deluge that heads out to sea. Read more →

The Oroville Dam disaster is yet another example of California’s decline

PG&E crews work to move two electric transmission line towers as a precaution should the Oroville Dam emergency spillway needs to be used in Oroville, Calif., on Feb. 10. (Los Angeles Times)

By Victor Davis Hanson// Los Angeles Times

A year ago, politicians and experts were predicting a near-permanent statewide drought, a “new normal” desert climate. The most vivid example of how wrong they were is that California’s majestic Oroville Dam is currently in danger of spillway failure in a season of record snow and rainfall. That could spell catastrophe for thousands who live below it and for the state of California at large that depends on its stored water.

The poor condition of the dam is almost too good a metaphor for the condition of the state as a whole; its possible failure is a reflection of California’s civic decline.

The Uses of Populism

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

The economy, academia, immigration, and the environment could benefit from Trump’s unorthodox approach.

Populism of the center (as opposed to Bernie Sanders’s socialist populism) has received a bad media rap — given that it was stained in the past by xenophobic and chauvinistic currents. Who wishes to emulate all the agendas of William Jennings Bryan, Huey Long, or Ross Perot? Yet there were some elements of Trump’s populist agenda — mostly concern for redeveloping the industrial and manufacturing base of the American heartland, and with it creating better-paying jobs for globalism’s losers — that were not only overdue but salutary for the Republican party. His idea that broad-based prosperity could diminish tribalism and racial fault lines sought to erode traditional Democratic support. Read more →

California Goes Confederate

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

Threatening secession is far from the only thing that the Golden State has in common with the Old South.

Over 60 percent of California voters went for Hillary Clinton — a margin of more than 4 million votes over Donald Trump.

Since Clinton’s defeat, the state seems to have become unhinged over Trump’s unexpected election.

Read more →

Make Haste — Deliberately

by Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

If Trump shows that his actions are a reaction to past extremes, his changes will win public support.

The emperor Augustus who oversaw the transition from the nonstop civil war of a collapsing republic to the Principate — with all the good and bad that such a transition entailed — was fond of quoting the Greek aphorism “Make haste slowly” (σπεῦδε βραδέως / Latin: festina lente).

That seeming paradox of advocating both speed and caution was actually no contradiction at all. The adage instead reminded leaders that swift change can proceed only with careful forethought and deliberation, the same way that a swift crab scurries boldly across the beach but does so well protected in his shell. Read more →

California’s Polarization

by Richard Sousa
Monday, February 6, 2017

With all due respect, I believe my colleague Sam Abrams has it all wrong. He argues that when examining California voter registration data at the county level, the polarization along party lines and the partisanship in the state are not as deep as commonly portrayed. He is, however, using the wrong metrics and drawing the wrong conclusions. Read more →

Things to Watch?

The Corner The one and only.
By Victor Davis Hanson// National Review

Trump by intent has ignited the Left. But diverse criteria will determine to what degree it can do him damage:

1) Will his reforms kick-start the economy? If Trump reaches even 3 percent real GDP growth over a year — Obama was the first president since Herbert Hoover not to achieve that modest goal — much of the fury will die down.

2) Does the news cycle play into Trump’s notion of pulling the country back from the extreme to the center, or repudiate his efforts? So far, daily events, such as violence at the Louvre, the hysteria over the Gorsuch nomination, the latest Iranian missile launch, the Berkeley rioting, the second-look examination of Australia’s quite restrictionist immigration policy in comparison with the U.S., the latest celebrity outburst, etc. seem to amplify Trump’s message of a need for long overdue corrections.

Read more →

Postmodernism by Another Name


From an Angry Reader:

Re: Fake News: Postmodernism By Another Name

 While I thought the article was well written and cited several good specific examples. I find is a bit disingenuous that only the progressive movement is called out. Perhaps it would be worth mentioning the “Swift Boat” stories that were promulgated against John Kerry. The concept of fake news is used by both sides of the political spectrum for the purpose of “flash blinding” the masses in the middle to move them to be more in line with the agenda of the author of the false narrative. A story is created to convince the general audience that there is an “outrage” that must be addressed. One of the more recent was of a Muslim Arab immigrant who had four wives and 24 children living on welfare that amounted to more than $300,000 in cash per year. Now we have shut down immigration. If that was the goal of the “fake news”, to confuse the issue by fostering “outrage”, it seems to have worked. Read more →


From an Angry Reader:

Dear Victor:

 I have long been a reader of your essays. I am befuddled by your steady defense – or at least by your stayed hand of criticism – of Donald Trump.

I sense – and share – your glee about the comeuppance that the Democrats received in this past election.

 But the rotted and soulless character of Donald Trump concerns me far, far more than any feelings of schadenfreude I feel about the Democrats. His degree of intellectual incuriosity is alarming.

 Your kid-glove approach to Trump (especially when those gloves are actually petting him) is surprising and disappointing.



Victor Davis Hanson’s Reply:

Dear Angry (Sort of) Reader Loren Thacker,

Donald Trump was not my favorite in the primaries; but once he was likely to win the nomination (April 2016), I simply went to his website and collated his positions with Hillary Clinton’s on sanctuary cities, illegal immigration, defense, foreign policy, taxes, regulation, energy development, the EPA, the 2nd Amendment, the wall, school choice, and a host of other issues. The comparison supported my suspicions that he was more conservative and would not lose the Supreme Court for a generation to progressive massaging of the law, which was inevitable under Hillary Clinton. I think his appointments, Supreme Court pick, and executive orders have supported that belief that he is far more conservative than Hillary Clinton’s agendas. Oh, I came to another conclusion: I initially thought Trump might be the only nominee who would lose to Hillary Clinton; soon, however, I began to believe that he might be the only one who could beat her, given he was the first Republican to campaign in the Lee Atwater-style of 1988 and actually fought back against the WikiLeaks nexus of the media and Democratic Party. Read more →

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