Victor Davis Hanson
The last two years seem to have been one continual crisis—well aside from the coronavirus pandemic.
The spiraling prices of cars, gas, appliances, lumber, homes, and food are revisiting the miseries of the 1970s.
Anarchy defines the border.
A new divisive tribalism centers on “critical race theory.”
Unelected Washington grandees in the CIA, FBI, IRS, NSA, and Pentagon—like John Brennan, James Comey, Lois Lerner, Gen. Mark Milley, and Robert Mueller—feign ignorance or mislead under oath—or even break or ignore laws without consequences.
Ancient customs and laws are under assault from the Electoral College to the century-and-a-half make-up of the Supreme Court.
The current administration looks to the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the Paris Climate Accord for answers to America’s problems.
What is going on?
All of these daily melodramas are the natural dividends of the diminishing power of the independent American citizen—politically, economically, socially, and culturally. Citizens are becoming inert, as radical ideas take root that our Founders never envisioned.
Again, what once distinguished Western democracies in general and the American republic in particular was robust citizenship.
A chauvinistic and broad middle class checked the privilege and leverage of the rich. Yet it lacked the dependencies—and often the envy—of the poor. The middle class was economically autonomous. Its ensuing empowerment ruled the electorate.
Americans once saw the physical space of the United States as both sacred and as their own laboratory of democracy. Immigrants arrived in diverse and legal fashion. As guests, all newcomers expected to be integrated and assimilated into the American civic identity.
America was one of the few successful multiracial and multiethnic democracies in history. And Americans came to accept, through civic education and constant self-criticism, that the ancient and global plague of tribalism led only to national oblivion.
So, they took up the hard work of achieving the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. that our characters, not our race, is what matters.
There were other challenges to citizenship as the country grew powerful and rich. A huge government bureaucracy insidiously has appropriated power from elected officials to “improve”—but as often to damage—the lives of Americans.