The Nihilism of the Left

Victor Davis Hanson
American Greatness

The last 14 months have offered one of the rare occasions in recent American history when the hard Left has operated all the levers of federal government. The presidency, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the permanent bureaucratic state are all in progressive hands. And the result is a disaster that is uniting Americans in their revulsion of elitists whose crazy ideas are tearing apart the fabric of the country. 

For understandable reasons, socialists and leftists are usually kept out of the inner circles of the Democratic Party, and especially kept away from control of the country. A now resuscitated Bernie Sanders for most of his political career was an inert outlier. The brief flirtations with old-style hardcore liberals such as George McGovern in 1972 and Mike Dukakis in 1988 imploded the Democratic Party. Their crash-and-burn campaigns were followed by corrective nominees who actually won the presidency: Southern governors Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. 

Such was the nation’s innate distrust of the Left, and in particular the East Coast elite liberal. For nearly half a century between the elections of John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama, it was assumed that no Democratic presidential candidate could win the popular vote unless he had a reassuring Southern accent.

How did the extreme Left manage its rare takeover of the country between 2018 and 2020? Certainly, Obama’s election helped accelerate the woke movement and energized identity politics. One could also argue over the political opportunities in 2020 following the devastation of COVID-19. 

In the long term, the medicine of lockdowns and quarantines probably proved more calamitous than the disease, and this crisis mode made doable what had once been unimaginable. State governors such as Gavin Newsom, Gretchen Whitmer, and Andrew Cuomo did not let the pandemic crisis go to waste. It was a rare occasion to leverage agendas that otherwise had no public support in ordinary times.

In the chaos of 2020, both laws and customs were altered or scrapped—changing the very way we vote. Over 102 million ballots were either mailed in or cast during so-called “early voting”—strangely resulting in far lower rejection rates in most states than in past “normal” years of predominantly in-person voting on Election Day. Indeed, in just one year, Election Day went from an American institution to an afterthought.

The hatred of Donald Trump prompted an influx of hundreds of millions of dark dollars from Silicon Valley to supplant the responsibilities of registrars in key precincts with armies of paid activists. A non compos mentis, basement-bound Joe Biden was cynically given an “Ol’ Joe from Scranton” moderate veneer to pursue a calibrated hard-Left agenda.

So Americans ended up with a neo-socialist government. It is proving as disastrous as it is bitterly instructive—reminding this generation of Americans what the Left does when it grasps power. As all restraints came off, the hard and now unbridled Left went to work to turn America into something like a looney, one-party California. A wide-open border followed. We may see 3 million illegal aliens cross at the southern border during the first 18 months of the Biden Administration. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been allotted to reward those illegally entering America, who can expect free legal support from the U.S. government to ensure they are not subject to the laws of the United States. 

In a sane world, Biden would have been impeached for deliberately destroying the very federal laws he swore to uphold. On the prompt of his hard Left controllers, he was eager to alter the electoral demography of the nation rather than ensure immigrants came in reasonable numbers, legally, with audit and background checks, and safely in a time of a pandemic. The former illegal arrivals were seen as needed constituents, the latter legal immigrants too politically unpredictable.

The Left in about a year has negated American gas and oil independence. Biden, who promised to end America’s use of fossil fuels on his watch, cast adrift millions of his fellow citizens to choose between driving and eating. Much of what the Left had traditionally demonized and wanted gone from American life—from gasoline to beefsteak to new pickup trucks—became so inflated in price as to be nearly unattainable. 

The electrician now pays five times more for his wire, the carpenter eight times more for his plywood, the plumber six times more for his pipe—as all three have to pay off-the-books cash for rare workers who prefer to get checks from the Biden Administration. The Biden printing press has destroyed both the idea that all citizens will work if there are just good-paying jobs, and that affordable necessities for life—food, fuel, and shelter—form the basis for a middle-class life.

If the Left did all that in 14 months, imagine what it can still do before losing the Congress in 2022.

The Biden Administration’s profligate multitrillion-dollar budget, inflation of the currency, de facto zero interest rates, destructive subsidies that undermined labor participation, and incompetence at addressing the supply-chain and clogged port crises will all by midyear likely achieve a 10 percent annualized inflation rate. Carter-era stagflation is on the near horizon. 

When an American president predicts a food shortage in what used to be the breadbasket of the world, then we see the wages of socialism in all their unapologetic cruelty. When the Left can scarcely hide its glee that diesel fuel hit $7 a gallon in California, the public is finally seeing that the Bidens, Newsoms, and AOCs of the world care nothing for the real-life consequences of their elite utopian green fantasies. How did America ever stoop to begging communist Venezuela, theocratic Iran, and dictatorial Russia to pump oil for us that we have in abundance but will not produce? Which insane person thought up the idea of using Vladimir Putin’s Russia as our mediator to restart the Iran Deal?

The now unfettered woke revolution seeks to Trotskyize American history and its heroes. A disastrous foreign policy of appeasement has ended U.S. deterrence. After the worst military humiliation in 50 years in Afghanistan, Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea all seek to capitalize on a rare American Phaethon moment. The world’s superpower has turned over the reins of its deterrence chariot to a ninny and his gurus. And before crashing the country, they aimlessly rebound from one self-created crisis to the next self-induced disaster. 

The Clerks Come Out

Aside from the dismal left-wing political record, the public has also witnessed an unapologetically leftwing federal bureaucracy now completely unbound. Our top echelon of the administrative state is defiant in its weaponized assumption of legislative, executive, and judicial powers. 

We are learning that the likes of Anthony Fauci have all but destroyed the reputation of once time-honored federal health agencies. In their contradictions, about-faces, and deceit, they focused mostly on controlling their multibillion-dollar public fiefdoms, hounding critics, rewarding sycophants, politicizing “science,” hiding culpability about routing money to lunatic gain-of-function research in China, and marginalizing outspoken voices of audit.

The military apparat after Afghanistan—defined as woke Pentagon functionaries, revolving door and politically weaponized corporate generals, and outspoken politicos—managed the impossible: a once revered military now cannot even win a 50 percent vote of confidence from the American public. 

The intelligence agencies are worse. Former kingpins such as John Brennan and James Clapper, both pundits for hire on leftwing cable networks, lied under oath before Congress without consequences. When 50 retired intelligence officials during the Biden 2020 campaign claimed publicly that Hunter’s laptop was likely a Russian plot, what then is left of any semblance of nonpartisan professionalism and integrity?

James Comey, Andrew McCabe, and Christopher Wray have all eroded the reputation of the FBI by fueling the Russian collusion hoax, the Alfa Bank hoax, and the Hunter laptop disinformation hoax. Since when does the FBI go after journalists in their underwear or moms and dads at school board meetings, as if it is now an extension of the teacher union or DNC?

Along with Robert Mueller—who claimed no knowledge of either the Steele dossier or Fusion GPS—the Washington FBI hierarchy did to the agency what Lois Lerner infamously did to the IRS. Just as Lerner became an extension of the Obama 2012 reelection effort and corrupted tax law, so the FBI descended into becoming the wayward Biden family’s retrieval service—eager to keep quiet Hunter’s incriminating laptop and to rescue Ashley Biden’s lurid diary.

When the evidence becomes overwhelming that the collusionary media lied about the laptop or the origins of COVID-19, there is never a retraction, only a Soviet-style silence about past untruth. And then it is on to the next false narrative. 

Add in the conduct of FBI luminaries such as the forger Kevin Clinesmith, Lisa Page, and Peter Strzok, who preferred to investigate conservatives rather than enemies of the nation. What characterizes, then, our once revered intelligence agencies is not just institutionalized mediocracy. Rather it is a dangerous zeal to enact by fiat politicized agendas that cannototherwise be ratified by a legislative vote—all with the expectation that these sanctified agents of political change are above the law and will be rewarded accordingly.

Our Ill Institutions

Americans had tuned out many of our major institutions that are now openly hostile to American exceptionalism. In their nihilism, leftists seek to destroy the very organizations they absorbed.

Professional sports? Multimillionaire basketball players are more likely to refuse to salute their own flag than to say a word of dissent to their autocratic and often ethnocentric Chinese paymasters.

Higher education? A Yale law school dean contextualizes the loud disruption of free speech by leftist law students at a conference. Only that way can she ensure that rules about open expression remain theoretical, and not real for the woke. 

Entertainment? Hiring, promotions, and awards are now based as much on race, gender, and sexual identity as on merit. 

Forty years ago, face slapper Will Smith would likely have been removed from the Oscar ceremonies for rudely shouting and interrupting the worldwide show. Twenty years ago, he might still have been rebuked for profanity and yelling the F-word in a live televised event. Now he is neither arrested nor even removed for physically assaulting comedian Chris Rock. His belated contrition is belied by his refusal to leave the ceremony and to go dancing and partying into the post-assault wee hours. Will there be open brawling on stage next year?

The Left got what it wanted and now controls academia, the media, the internet, K-12 education, corporate boardrooms, the Pentagon, Wall Street, and Hollywood. And they more or less have turned each of these into versions of Pravda. The sermons, arrogance, and narcissism of these woke cultural imperialists now explain why they are disliked as much abroad as they are at home. 

In sum, we are watching a rare laboratory experiment in which the traditional American fringe is now in control of the government. In pursuit of its utopian omelet, the Left cares little about the millions of middle-class Americans it must break to make it. The result is an unmitigated disaster that not only has tarred the Democratic Party, corrupted once-revered agencies, and alienated half the country from our cultural institutions, but now endangers the very health and security of the United States.

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42 thoughts on “The Nihilism of the Left”

  1. A truly terrible indictment. A disaster of Biblical proportions which appears to be one from which no previous nation or civilization has ever recovered. All the worst sins recounted in the Good Book especially those related to the exploitation of children are now on display in almost every corner of the land.
    Most people I know believe that our days are indeed numbered. It is small comfort to realize that how the USA goes, so goes the world.
    But whistling in the dark about a turnaround as soon as this November is surely delusional. As things now stand, we may well already be in the major war by then. Just ask yourself when in the past has a democrat administration in the USA NOT brought us war?

    1. God has said otherwise. It is God who is exposing all of this. It is God who is allowing the humiliation of America. But it is also God who will intervene, for he is not through with America yet. America was becoming a cess pool of no use so He is bringing judgement, but not to the people they are trying to destroy but to the people trying to destroy.
      People need to get right with God. Now is the time to choose.

      1. is the “how to” get right with God. Mere Christianity that teaches how to repent and put God FIRST! Life changing Truth!! We are living Gods system of behavior modification Deuteronomy 28 ; blessings and curses! Perhaps if we repent, God will spare this country for the righteous who DO HIS will!

      2. You are exactly right! Nothing happens outside of what God allows! He has brought us to our knees and we know we need to stay on them in prayer now! I believe we are in the last days! I hope that is true! God has the last say, not Pelosi or Biden!!!!! Also Victor Hanson – YOU NAILED IT AS ALWAYS!!!

    2. This is my overarching concern, as well, that we’ll be in WWIII by then and lose further control of the country before we get the right people elected. As long as nobody is held accountable for any crimes committed in the steal of the November 3, 2020, election and no strategy for how we address all the harms being inflicted by this administration upon the country with open discussions by our leaders, I fear we continue on this trajectory. Thank God for people like VDH who can articulate and enumerate the monumental cracks in this carnival house of mirrors we’re enduring.

    1. Noel E. Johanson


  2. I fear that the democrats and left are too confident for a reason that only they know – if they cheated to win in the last election, and were not investigated – the attacked and weary, & some are globalist elite GOP want to move forward & forget the past, letting bygones be bygones – Why should the democrats/left worry – they will continue to cheat just enough not to trigger a recount – everyone will just shake their heads and say “Oh well, I guess the majority just want to live under this type of governing” – we may never again have a free election.

    1. They are confident because they are children of the devil and they truly believe he will save them. He won’t.

  3. Wow, just wow. A lot of the truth is known by many, but the whole truth, is fact based and well written by Victor Hanson. What an Intelligent man.

  4. Robert Wagner

    Thank You sir- A superb distillation of part of the reason for the decline of our United States of America, which I believe accelerated with Obamas ” fundamental transformation of America” and weaponization of governmental agencies. I pray we can start to turn it off course in November, and the center and conservative elected gain a backbone to render the fight necessary to prevent what was the unthinkable by the majority of Americans. Your clear analysis is much needed.

  5. Any dissent or even benign questioning immediately labels the “perpetrator”, “instigator”, or “traitor” as racist, homophobic, misogynist, or treasonous. Any ideologic counter is immediately consider a “threat” to democracy. Any factual counters are labelled “non-scientific”, “disinformation”, or “baseless”. The assault on, not even policy or ideology, just plain old common sense is relentless. Of course it’s so easy to read as the immediacy and depth of personal attacks are the tell that an opposing point of view has a valid point worth considering.

  6. March 24 2010
    Joe Biden to Obama: “This is a Big F*****g deal” –

    January 10, 2017
    …anyway, in this last year I do have more appreciation for those that have been with me on this amazing ride, like one of our (pause) finest public servants, Joe Biden, God bless him, love that guy, I love Joe Biden, I really do and I want to thank him for his friendship, for his counsel, for always giving it to me straight, for not shooting anybody in the face. Thank you, Joe. –

    April 5 2022

  7. Patrick Lavin

    Future Generations never Forget. Make Middle America Stronger than ever. Leaning too far Right or Left is destructive.


      But “right” in this context is classic American principles, as expressed in the Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution, especially individual liberty and personal responsibility, and small government, big enough just to protect our natural rights, and to defend the country against foreign enemies.

      We can expand on this by describing six principles of conservatism, or “the right” as you call it, and it would be good if we returned to following those principles:

      1. The private sector can be depended on to make better economic decisions than the public sector in 99 out of 100 cases.
      2. Government serves the governed best when it is limited
      3. Individuals must exercise responsibility along with freedom.
      4. There is an enduring moral order
      5. Peace is best protected through military strength
      6. The United States should not hesitate to use its power and influence to shape a world friendly to American interests and values.

      Or another way to look at the difference is to ask the question, “What is the relationship of the individual to the State? Is the individual superior to the State, or is he subject to the State?” Those who answer that the State is superior, or who act that way, are Leftists, Progressives, Statists. It’s best to stay as far away from that worldview as possible.

  8. Brilliant summation of what this far left has done to our country. Thank you for your astute work in putting this piece together.

  9. The Democrats have to fix the problem with their own left wing. It was regular ordinary Democrats who elected Joe Biden as their nominee to stop Bernie, and I have to think that millions of them are horrified by the likes of Admiral Levine and $4 gas. After the drubbing in November, they will have a reckoning that coincides with the run-up to 2024. Just as Carter and Clinton were little-known governors who emerged as the moderate alternatives to the Left, there is someone out there who is going to put together the New Democrats for a 2024 run. Let’s hope it’s not too late.

    1. Pete Schubert

      I wish you were correct but Democrats only destroy and never fix anything. There was a time they were Americans but they have become monsters

      1. Both sides of the political aisle are controlled by the billionaires in order to destroy this country. Those pompous pieces of sh*t are doing everything in their power to make sure that this country crumbles, and only their families survive. People have been too slow to realize the truth of this. It all started under Ronald Reagan, who made it so much easier for the rich to become richer, and have far more control than they did prior to his presidency

  10. As we watch this unfold, God watches with us. I hope we all feel humbled and shame, we allowed this to happen. We looked away when God was removed from our classrooms and government. We should be on our knees begging for forgiveness. There have been many opportunities to take a stand. We did nothing. I’m shamed. You should be too.

  11. VDH is brilliant! Thanks for continuing to educate us on what is going on in this crazy world. My only hope is that devolution has been implemented and that there is hope for our future. I share the devolution series at for folks that may want to research on their own.

  12. I just want to post one observation, idea if you will should you agree or not, I Looked at the history of Israel each time they turned away from God and found it penalized them as a nation. (Research) Sodom and Gomorrah as well which was totally destroyed. Does allowing Christianity in the public square hurt anyone? Was Jesus a communist? Do our individual constitutional rights not come from God according to our founding fathers? Did not equal justice under the law come from the Bible? Why then do communist when in power immediately remove religion and firearms from society, does it threaten their control? Thanks to VHD who has summarized so eloquently above our demise since the Carter presidency. The left (communist) have removed God from their platform since the 2016 election, has society improved since? I propose if we want our nation back we reinstate God in our schools, court rooms and politics regardless, even if a belief in God is not your personal preference. I am a self professed Christian today but have not always been. Even when I ran from God in my younger days, I thought He was very beneficial to us as a nation because of our founding history being the back bone of our country and freedoms. Unlike the left today I never felt a need to criticize anyone who worshiped God even though I chose not to it is their choice. The country has allowed him to be removed and it now has proven to be detrimental to much of the world has it not!

  13. Shrinking Violet

    VDH is right about a lot of these symptoms, but he doesn’t go far enough. He doesn’t idenyify the deeper causes, which have to do with our globalist overlords and their vile plans for depopulation and one-world tyranny. he also, IMHO, overestimates public dissatisfaction with the left’s disastrous policies/agendas. Too many people are still on board with masks, rainbow flags, Xe/xir, trans kids, BLM signs, girl-power, black-washing of historical figures, abortion, atheism, and all the rest of the insanity. Politicians should be swinging from lamp posts by now. But they’re still in power, and the blameless January 6 political prisoners are still rotting in jail.

  14. Beautifully said.
    But I still love our “woman of the year”, admiral levine. 😂😂😂😂😂😂

  15. The collapse of the southern border illustrates the loss of our national sovereignty – soon.
    The evaporation of the one person – one vote principle illustrates the loss of individual sovereignty.
    The continuous crush of the Bitem Administration illustrates the collapse of Constitutional law.
    Is this the threshold of the Great Tribulation?

    Lord, please intervene!

  16. Daniel Graham

    Now we know what Obama truly meant when he declared “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” I am content to know that I rode with Hanson, Sowell, Williams and Freidman all these years. They always appealed to my better angels. This new media and academia appeals to something way different and it’s sad that folks like Goldberg and French on the right have sold their reputation for twitter likes and CNN/MSNBC appearances and maybe getting introduced to their new friends AOC, Behar and Whoopi and they can all enjoy the drag queen story hours at their local elementary schools.

  17. Will was def out of pocket for slapping Chris, being a POC it was quite embarrassing to see us go out like that.

  18. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum. It’s going to take real strength, determination, and vision to right these wrongs.

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