Do Leftists Now Believe Leftism Doesn’t Work?

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

It is hard to destroy a naturally beautiful city like San Francisco, with ideal weather and stunning infrastructure inherited from far better earlier generations.

Yet San Francisco continues its much-publicized and self-inflicted doom loop. The productive classes still flee the increasingly crime-ridden city and its self-induced pathologies. The city is eroding not because of the doomsayers and not because of what people say about San Francisco, but because of what San Franciscans have done to San Francisco.

In 2023, more than 40,000 crimes were reportedly committed in San Francisco. The great majority of the perpetrators were either not arrested or never jailed, indicted, or convicted.

Downtown office vacancy rates exceed 35 percent—and are climbing. Tourists have ostracized the city, given the thousands of homeless that occupy sidewalks and downtown. San Francisco claimed to be on the cutting-edge of the woke green movement, proud that it had enacted the most stringent environmental laws and regulations in the world—except when it came to defecation, injection, and urination on the sidewalks, doorways, and parks and during storms, when the toxic, effluviant human waste escapes sewage treatment and flows into the once-cherished bay.

In a mere five years, the city went from being one of the most envied and wealthy in the world with a vibrant nightlife and new high-tech start-ups to a West-Cost Detroit.

Now billionaires are trying to heal San Francisco by returning it to the old normality in the era before the progressive city councils, the boards of supervisors, and mayors defunded the police, allowed the homeless to absorb the downtown, and promoted prosecutors who refused to enforce the laws.

The rich are rallying to undo the damage wrought by the very officials whom they and the majority of the city voted into office. Their principles seem simple—start doing the very opposite of the progressive agenda: enforce laws; arrest, convict, and incarcerate criminals; balance city budgets; and insist that the homeless leave the streets, follow the laws of the city, and relocate to shelters.

Across the bay, Oakland is in even worse shape. The city is on life support as a predictable result of progressive nihilism: do not enforce the law; do not arrest or jail criminals; raise taxes and overregulate businesses; pay exorbitant salaries to unionize public workers and bloated city staff; create toxic racial animosity. And the result is Oakland 2024, a mix between 19th-century Tombstone and contemporary Port-au-Prince.

The city is becoming a veritable ghost town as more overtaxed employers leave and more taxes rise on those who cannot leave. Cities like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and New York follow the same trajectory. They suffer the symptoms of a collective madness triggered by a combination of the destructive national COVID quarantine that birthed the zoom culture, the systematic attack on police after the George Floyd death, and a nihilist woke epidemic that postulated a binary of stereotyped oppressors and oppressed that saw the so-called punching bag victimizers shrug and move far away from blue states and cities.

In all these doom-loop cities, progressive reformers in the eleventh hour are now trying to undo the very policies of those they elected, as if they are slowly waking up from a collective madness—in an election year.

A similar confessional and re-examination among the left is occurring over the border catastrophe. Upon ascension, the Biden administration discarded, and ridiculed as illiberal, the security measures it had inherited from the prior administration—the end of catch-and-release, the demand that would-be refugees apply for entry in their home countries, the continuation of the wall, and Mexico’s responsibility to stop the transit of millions northward through its country.

Much of the sudden left-wing panic over the border is, of course, opportunistic because it is an election year and the left fears losing power for what it has done to the middle class. The optics of 8 million people swarming the border with impunity over the last few years have alienated the public. And the infusion of illegal migrants into inner-city and border communities threatens to hemorrhage the Democratic base.

So suddenly, no one takes credit for the once wonderful, porous Biden border. Abruptly, the crossings are blamed on Trump—as if no one remembers Joe Biden’s 2019 performance-art boast for illegal aliens to “surge” the border and how he facilitated that advice over the next three years. Abruptly, the Democrats insist that after three years and 8 million illegal aliens into the Biden administration, something must be done—perhaps even a rebranding of what worked in 2020 as their own.

The same rethinking of energy is occurring as well among the left—in an election year. The more they talk of banning natural gas, mandating electric vehicles, and ending internal combustion engines, the more they quietly reverse course, draining the strategic petroleum reserve, quietly allowing more federal oil leases, and encouraging national production to return to pre-COVID levels present during the Trump administration.

Frackers and drillers are working at near-full production. Production in 2023 ended up at 13.5 million barrels a day. In short, halfway through the Biden administration, as it desperately drained the strategic petroleum reserve on the eve of the midterms to lower the high gasoline prices it had spawned, the left kept up the green rhetoric as it greenlighted oil production.

In early 2024, the U.S. is once again the largest oil producer in the world. Monthly production now matches or exceeds the high record months during the pre-COVID Trump administration.

Why the turnabout? Once again, reality strikes. In an election year, the return to reasonable energy prices is helping to moderate the inflation that the Biden administration fueled.

Energy self-sufficiency is a valuable foreign exchange earner. It allows the U.S. to be independent abroad, free from foreign leverage, whether from the Middle East, Russia, or Iran. American petroleum autarchy keeps the world price low and reduces the income of belligerent states. Again, the green rhetoric continues as the oil flows more than ever. Understood is that the left quietly agrees that oil and gas are necessary for the now slow transition to alternate fuels—in an election year.

Are any of our major cities, the vast majority blue and progressively run, still hammering away at the police, eager to cut more from the police? Are they rallying around another Soros-funded critical legal theory wannabe district attorney?

Or are they more likely desperately trying to offer bonuses to recruit officers whom, in just two or three years, they libeled and drove out?

Why the shift? Perhaps because they got their utopian wish that asserted that blameless criminals break the law only because of society’s biases and unfairness, not because they calculate perceived benefits of criminality offset by its dangers. And now they rue the result—in an election year. In other words, leftists don’t like getting mugged, car-jacked, assaulted, and beaten and fear their own policies are endangering their own safety.

Why are corporations no longer lavishing money on Black Lives Matter? Why are donations to Ivy League schools down? Is Professor Kendi still a hot ticket on the lecture circuit? Is the reparations movement picking up steam?

Or does the left now fear that its promotion of tribalism and guilt-ridden racial essentialism is leading to a race-obsessed, fractious society, headlong on its way to a Rwanda, former Yugoslavia, or Iraq—in an election year?

The Biden administration, staffed by Obama-era foreign policy apparatchiks and functionaries, sought to remake what National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan once bragged was a quiet inherited Middle East.

The progressive therapeutic approach was supposed to lead to an ecumenical Middle East. A tolerant, passive, turn-the-other cheek enlightened foreign policy for the 21st century would lead to a new, better Iran without nukes, a two-state solution of Hamas living peacefully with Israelis, while the occasionally raucous Houthis calmed down, Hezbollah would become more a partner than mere terrorists, Israel would be lectured and sermonized to as an overdog punching too much above its weight, and the childish Abrams Accords nonsense would end the work of Trump’s conniving son-in-law, and the pariah Saudi Arabia.

Or so they thought.

So everything was rebooted to kinder and gentler premises—and thus the Biden administration blew up the once calm Middle East.

And now? Two carriers were dispatched to the Mediterranean. The U.S. is belatedly bombing and launching missiles to respond to some 170 attacks on American installations. In an election year, Biden seems baffled that distancing himself from Israel still earns him the moniker of “Genocide Joe” from once loyalist Democratic Arab-American communities.

The woke, Jacobin revolution was promoted by progressives, mostly out of guilt and insecurity, as an overdue remake of America based on therapeutic principles. For three years, it found a rare pathway to power, enacted much of what it had long wished, and discovered the result was not just a catastrophe but dangerous to the very architects themselves.

So now in 2024—an election year—the left is trying to undo what it created without explaining why and what they did to us and themselves as well.


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39 thoughts on “Do Leftists Now Believe Leftism Doesn’t Work?”

  1. Thank you Victor for a wonderful summary of the abject failures of the self-absorbed progressive marxists. It is personally satisfying to see them wallowing around in the political, social and economic detritus they have created. It’s as if they have bathed in the manure which was the inevitable outcome of their policies yet they are convinced that no one else can smell it. They believe that if they lie frequently and consistently (adam schiff style), they will be able to make Americans believe that the smell emanates from the so called deplorables. The entire biden regime and its progressive lackeys are overdue for a well deserved power washing!

  2. This is the most comprehensive summary of the rot that infects our country. I would add, perhaps parenthetically, Seattle and Portland to the list of failed urban centers. Fifty years from now I can envisage a memorial to the collapse we are entertaining. Like the Vietnam Memorial, it would be trench dug in the earth, and each panel could be inscribed with one of Victor’s paragraphs. A foul smell would permeate the air from raw sewage collecting in the lower reaches, perhaps rising and falling with a simulated tide.

  3. The left may be changing its tune in an election year, but if they are re-elected they will revert to the same dumb destructive policies that they now disown. Count on it.

    1. Of course, they’re ideological, Marxist zealots out to create heaven on earth, a classless society, where they self-enrich. Interestingly, the ruling minority now drops the reference to equity in the DEI pablum, because they can’t justify their riches; otherwise, they’d donate their largess to charities and send their children to public schools.

  4. Wonderful as always. I hope this is the end of wokeism which is destroying our great country. I would like to see an apology from the globalist left???

  5. And it’s all Trump’s fault. The only thing preventing the immediate fulfillment of heaven on earth is MAGA controlled obstructionism, the GOP not wanting Biden to get credit for achieving perfection and in so doing take away the only reason for Trump’s political existence. Reality has absolutely nothing to do with anything. Spending time on X ( Twitter) it’s hard to believe they are talking about the same guys ( JRB & DJT) that VDH writes about

  6. And the saddest part of Biden and the Left’s sudden election year reversal of their own disastrous policies is that it may fool enough of the American people to get them reelected so they can go right back to doing their worst and transforming the country.

    1. You can also count on most Democrat voters to continue to affirm their support for this destructive path. The Left changing its tune is merely the deception they use to win over clueless independent voters who ultimately decide our elections. These voters deserve just as much blame or more for the suicidal path we are on.

  7. If we again watch the overnight returns slowly but steadily overtake Trump, then we will know that the game is over.

    They need to know exactly how much Trump is ahead so that they can manufacture the right amount of votes to win. The numerical evidence from 2020 precisely follows this pattern in all battleground states.

    Does anybody not believe that happened in 2020?

    What we need is one more counterbalancing rush of votes to follow the fake leftist vote surge. Surprise them.

    Our voting “system” was constructed in way that makes it impossible to audit, starting with the ridiculous adoption of no voter ID.

    Take advantage of that fact or lose.

    Who cares if the voter turnout is 100% more than the total registered voters in your district? There is no way to audit the vote.

    Is my suggestion a parody or sound advice? Hard to tell, isn’t it?

    That’s the country the Left has created.

  8. William Thompson

    …in an election year. Brilliant. The lesson, so wonderfully suggested and taught by Dr. Hanson here, is that when tyrants observe the results of their tyranny and see the tar pots heating and piles of feathers growing there is a miraculous conversion which occurs seemingly overnight. Such “road to Damascus” moments are famously temporary, rarely persuasive except for the already converted, and patently cynical. GK Chesterton’s famous observation informs such regular canards and provides food for thought: “It is appalling how few politicians are hanged”.

    1. Tar pots and feathers indeed! More incredible to me ? Those getting slaughtered by the policies can still offer up a diatribe in defense and call you stupid , simultaneously with vigor and outright venom..
      Most of the defense is “He’s better than Trump” followed by a list of lies regarding Trump, fed to them by the left wing media, and washed down with the accompanying blue Kool Aid.
      Any evidence of logic on the left, exited with Clinton and went immediately down the tubes and off the cliff with the Community Organizer. The current and slight swing to middle? Only a fool would fall for it.

  9. Only a useless idiot will fall for an eight and one half month long effort that will revert, reverse course as quickly and suddenly as it began.
    Don’t be Charlie to Lucy and her football, as so many have been since FDR , LBJ. Carter, Obama, and now, JOE. If you do, you’re a slow learner, and you aren’t reading this, anyway: )

  10. Very well said, sir. In spite of the harm done to us measly citizens, those who elected Democrats continue to do so. Truly sad that they are so blinded by their refusal to seek the truth.

  11. Sorry, VDH, but I disagree. I don’t think the radical left was naively seeking to create a Utopia. Rather, I believe they were trying to utterly destroy the capitalistic society we have. Why so? So they could later rebuild it into a globalist society ruled by a few. In a since it is a return to the king/royalty and serf days that have persisted during much of our civilization. The few rule the many.

    They only reason they are backing off now, taking an intermission of sorts, is that they over reached. They did not expect a serious threat to their power in the elections of 2024. They thought with their lawfare Trump would be toast.

    Surprise! He’ssss Back!

    1. Exactly what I think too. It’s deliberate. Leftists are manufacturing a crisis. They see it as opportunity. This is an actual interstate criminal conspiracy. The millions of illegal aliens are a big part of it and aren’t we watching an insurrection before our eyes?

  12. And the question begs, what was floating around the minds of the millions who proposed and voted for such terrible policies? It’s like opening up a Russian Roulette Café and then having to re-examine the business model because too many customers were getting shot and dying. Who could have seen that coming? Roughly half the country. Why must the nation go through so much (Pro) regressive idiocy if predictable anarchy is a guarantee? Defund the police, decriminalize crime, etc., Who would have thought that in short order it would all go terribly wrong? Roughly half of the country who knew not to vote for it is my guess.

  13. I think my comparison to follow is a stretch but I’m going to give it a shot.

    When one recognizes the power, purity, and yes grace, of VDH analysis, one can’t help but ask one’s self, rhetorically: “Why won’t Americans listen to him?”.

    Ok. I’m Not comparing VDH to the Lord, or Christ, but the parallel, between VDH spot on analysis, compared to Luke 16:19-31. If one has 2M read the parable of Lazarus & the rich man

    My point is that sometimes even right thinking people will not believe the truth.

    I guess that’s why I’ve lost faith in Americas voters. That and the fact that 2020 voting irregularities and protocols, as outlined by Times’ Molly Ball are not remedied: lather, massage, rinse, repeat.

    Post modern America making me nutty!

    1. Luke 16:29-31 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.'”

      Jesus was using this parable to teach that men who do not listen to Moses and the Prophets (The Old Testament) will not respond to a call for repentance even if the source comes from a supernatural testimony (one who rises from the dead).

      Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

      The message of the gospel as found in the Bible is the means which God uses to convince men of their need for salvation from sin through Jesus Christ to both Jew and non-Jew.

    2. Right thinking people who do not believe the truth may have other factors affecting their judgement. Those things may include their personal goals and morals.

      When it comes to salvation from sin, men have a natural disposition away from God according to Romans 1. God overcomes that bias by working in their hearts to drag them to Christ.

      John 6:44 No one can come to me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up at the last day.

    3. I agree that Victor seems like a truth-teller. It is perplexing and frustrating why people do not listen to him. A person’s personal stakes in an issue may affect his judgement.

      For instance, a man may see himself as a rebel and seeks to be free to establish his own norms. An older gentleman like Victor might be someone that he naturally wants to run from because of his age and traditional viewpoints.

      I wish that more people would consider Victor’s articles and podcasts.

  14. I hope Dr. Hanson you are not implying the Left is repentant? They are not. If resent history is any indicator they never will be. True repentance requires one to admit responsibility for ones actions and blaming their arch enemy Donald Trump for the disaster they created is at best a denial and at worst EVIL. I think the political power brokers of the LEFT don’t really care about the results of their actions. For them it is the necessary part of their dystopian dream to terminate more than 2/3 of the world’s population with just enough slaves to maintain a global playground of parks for billionaires. Short term they may have overplayed their hand. Even their foolish allies are increasingly aware that to retain the power they need, they cannot afford to actually alienate their political base. Duping the base is fine, but eventually when reality comes knocking on ones own door there is no more denying the truth. That truth is the LEFT screws everyone over including themselves. You said this and I agree. Yet never underestimate in their thirst for power they will cut of their noses to spite their faces. They are deeply committed to EVIL.

  15. I would be more reassured if this turnaround was being effected in a year that was not an election year. Too often we see political theatre enacted for votes, and once the elected office is accomplished, the policy continues as it was. But we are also suffering from lower level elected officials and their appointees, which normally do not get much notice until they make some decision worthy of news coverage.. And then, of course, we have the judiciary in these progressive areas. It is amazing to think how, in just three years, the basic fabric of out country has been demolished. And what’s more concerning is there is at least one more year to go.

  16. As to Mexico, it’s generally considered the most corrupt country in Latin America with everyone on the take, and it occurred to me years ago that Trump’s hated wall should be completed for no other reason than to stop millions of Mexicans from invading our country during the next Mexican revolution. The drug cartels seem to be hastening the process.

  17. Unfortunately, I am afraid there are too many Americans who can no longer think for themselves. This is one of the many negative results of education practices employed over the last several decades. The American education system creates people who cannot look at something and see if it is true or false, right or wrong. Critical thinking is a lost art.

    Another problem that will be hard to overcome is the effect of America’s corporate media and tech giants. They will tell whatever stories they deem necessary to get the democrats over the finish line first, whether they are true or not. Additionally, they will silence as many dissenting opinions and voices as possible. Most Americans today cannot read or watch something and determine if they are being manipulated. Too often, they will take what is being offered as the truth, when it is not true.

    Last, there are still too many problems with election integrity. We all saw for ourselves how election integrity was destroyed in 2020. Nothing has been done to fix these problems. We will witness the exact same thing happen again in the 2024 election. The only way these problems can be eliminated is if there is such a huge majority voting against the democrats that not even their cheating programs can over come the number of voters going against them. That is not assured by any means in my opinion.

    One thing is clear, America is in real trouble.

  18. Actually, the left substantially believes that society should be poorer and consume less, and they can be quite capable of achieving that goal. Their policies do work as intended. We may look at San Francisco in horror, but there are a lot of people there who think they’ve finally created the city they crave. Don’t underestimate the number of people who want to be free to run naked in the streets and defecate where they please.

  19. My leftist family members and friends, when asked about the problems of crime, the border, the economy, and Biden’s performance don’t admit that there is a problem. They read WP, NYT and watch the major networks and few of these problems are covered. They say “what crime in DC”, and “what crime in NYC”. I am so thankful for VDH, WSG, and Fox News. All that being said…..I am not sure Trump is our savior.

    1. Well before Trump came along few of us knew that we were going to hell. Trump exposed the devil, and though he cannot change the fact that we are all going to hell, we at least know now that we are going to hell. VDH is lighting the way with backwards pointing beacons. –AGF

  20. Between the leftists, Rino Republicans, and Republicans, you can’t find any city in our country who is not a run down propagandic shithole everyone with a brain is getting away from because most families want to raise their flock where they know the law is prompt and dependable and the schools aren’t overun jails full of young adult illegals and gang members which guess what are coming to the affluent areas because it’s where the money is.

  21. Victor,
    Everything you state is 100% True and Accurate, so why in heaven’s name don’t Republicans win every election, ie most recently yesterday on Long Island? Democrats (or should we limit the focus to “suburban college educated housewives”?) fail to get or accept ANY of these blatently obvious Facts of Life in Blue Cities and States??? They merely Obsess over “Trump and Abortion” Period! I guess the Left is doing a much better job of “indoctrination propaganda” than the Republicans must be doing! How can this obvious shortcoming be reversed in time for November 2024?? If not, the US of A is Doomed!!!

  22. Ongoing cry of the American middle-class city dweller:
    “I can’t grow corn,
    I can’t grow hay,
    I’m too damn poor
    To move away.”

  23. Was one of the architects of San Francisco’s world-famous Morrison Planetarium driven to kill himself?

    Read about how local Jews hounded a perfectly nice elderly San Francisco native and polymath (whom, for all we know, might have also been Jewish) into walking into traffic on Geary Street and committing suicide.

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