Victor Davis Hanson
In the last 20 years, the Left has boasted that it has gained control of most of America institutions of power and influence—the corporate boardroom, media, Silicon Valley, Wall Street, the administrative state, academia, foundations, social media, entertainment, professional sports, and Hollywood.
With such support, between 2009-17, Barack Obama was empowered to transform the Democratic Party from its middle-class roots and class concerns into the party of the bicoastal rich and subsidized poor—obsessions with big money, race, a new intolerant green religion, and dividing the country into a binary of oppressors and oppressed.
The Obamas entered the presidency spouting the usual leftwing boilerplate (“spread the wealth,” “just downright mean country,” “get in their face,” “first time I’ve been proud of my country”) as upper-middle-class, former community activists, hurt that their genius and talents had not yet been sufficiently monetized.
After getting elected through temporarily pivoting to racial ecumenicalism and pseudo-calls for unity, they reverted to form and governed by dividing the country. And then the two left the White House as soon-to-be mansion living, mega-rich elites, cashing in on the fears they had inculcated over the prior eight years.
To push through the accompanying unpopular agendas of an open border, mandatory wind and solar energy, racial essentialism, and the weaponization of the state, Obama had begun demonizing his opponents and the country in general: America was an unexceptional place. Cops were racist. “Clingers” of the Midwest were hopelessly ignorant and prejudiced. Only fundamental socialist transformation could salvage a historically oppressive, immoral, and racist nation.
The people finally rebelled at such preposterousness. Obama lost his party some 1,400 local and state offices during his tenure, along with both houses of Congress. His presidency was characterized by his own polarizing mediocrity. His one legacy was Obamacare, the veritable destruction of the entire system of a once workable health insurance, of the hallowed doctor-patient relationship, and of former easy access to competent specialists.
Yet Obama’s unfulfilled ambitions set the stage for the Biden administration—staffed heavily with Obama veterans—to complete the revolutionary transformation of the Democratic Party and country.
It was ironic that while Obama was acknowledged as young and charismatic, nonetheless a cognitively challenged, past plagiarist, fabulist, and utterly corrupt Joe Biden was far more effective in ramming through a socialist woke agenda and altering the very way Americans vote and conduct their legal system.
Stranger still, Biden accomplished this subversion of traditional America while debilitated and often mentally inert—along with being mired in a bribery and influence-peddling scandal that may ultimately confirm that he easily was the most corrupt president to hold office in U.S. history.
How was all this possible?
Covid had allowed the unwell Biden to run a surrogate campaign from his basement as he outsourced his politicking to a corrupt media.
Senility proved a godsend for Biden. His cognitive disabilities masked his newfound radicalism and long-accustomed incompetence. Unlike his past failed campaigns, the lockdowns allowed Biden to be rarely seen or heard—and thus as much liked in the abstract as he had previously been disliked in the concrete.
His handlers, the Obamas, and the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren radical Democrats, saw Biden’s half-century pretense as a gladhander—good ole Joe Biden from Scranton—as the perfect delivery system to funnel their own otherwise-unpopular leftwing agendas. In sum, via the listless Biden, they sought to change the very way America used to work.
And what a revolution Biden’s puppeteers have unleashed in less than three years.
They launched a base attack on the American legal system. Supreme Court judges are libeled, their houses swarmed, and their lives threatened with impunity. The Left promised to pack the court or to ignore any decision it resents. The media runs hit pieces on any conservative justice deemed too influential. The prior Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer whipped up a mob outside the court’s doors, and threatened two justices by name. As Schumer presciently put it, they would soon “reap the whirlwind” of what they supposedly had sowed and thus would have no idea what was about to “hit” them.
Under the pretense of Covid fears, balloting went from 70 percent participation on election day in most states to a mere 30 percent. Yet the rates of properly rejected illegal or improper ballots often dived by a magnitude of ten.
Assaults now followed on hallowed processes, laws, customs, and institutions—the Senate filibuster, the 50-state union, the Electoral College, the nine-justice Supreme Court, Election Day, and voter IDs.
Under Biden, the revolution had institutionalized first-term impeachment, the trial of an ex-president while a private citizen, and the indictment of a chief political rival and ex-president on trumped up charges by local and federal prosecutors—all to destroy a political rival and alter the 2024 election cycle.
Biden destroyed the southern border—literally. Eight million entered illegally—no background checks, no green cards, no proof of vaccinations. America will be dealing with the consequences for decades. Mexico was delighted, receiving some $60 million in annual remittances, while the cartels were empowered to ship enough fentanyl to kill 100,000 Americans a year.
“Modern monetary theory,” the Leftist absurdity that printing money ensures prosperity, followed. It has nearly bankrupted the country, unleashed wild inflation, and resulted in the highest interest rates in a quarter-century. Middle-class wages fell further behind as a doddering Biden praised his disastrous “Bidenomics.”
Biden warred on fossil fuels, cancelling federal leases and pipelines, jawboning lending agencies to defund fracking, demonizing state-of-the-art, clean-burning cars, and putting vast areas of oil- and gas-rich federals lands off-limits to drilling.
When gas prices predictably doubled under Biden and the 2022 midterms approached, he tried temporarily to lease out a few new fields, to drain the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, and to beg the Saudis, and our enemies, the Iranians, the Venezuelans, and the Russians, to pump more oil and gas that Biden himself would not. All this was a pathetic ruse to temporarily lower gas prices before the mid-term elections.
Biden abandoned Afghanistan, leaving the largest trove of military equipment behind in U.S. military history, along with thousands of loyal Afghans and pro-American contractors.
Biden insulted the parents of the 13 Marines blown up in this worst U.S. military debacle since Pearl Harbor. He lied to the parents of the dead that he too lost a son in the Iraq war, and when among them later impatiently checked his watch as he seemed bored with the commemoration of the fallen—and made no effort to hide his sense that the ceremony was tedious to him.
Vladimir Putin summed up the Afghan debacle—and Biden’s nonchalant remark that he wouldn’t react strongly to a “minor” invasion of Ukraine if it were minor—as a green light to invade Ukraine.
When Biden did awaken, his first reaction was an offer to fly the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy out of the country as soon as possible. What has followed proved the greatest European killing ground since the 1944-45 Battle of the Bulge, albeit one that has now fossilized into a Verdun-like quagmire that is draining American military supply stocks and killing a half-million Ukrainians and Russians.
Suddenly, there are three genders, not two. Women’s sports have been wrecked by biological men competing as women, destroying a half-century of female athletic achievement. Young girls in locker rooms, co-eds in sororities, and women in prison must dress and shower with biological men transitioning to women by assertion.
There is no longer a commitment to free speech. The American Civil Liberties Union is a woke, intolerant group trying to ban free expression under the pretense of fighting “hate” speech and “disinformation.”
The Left has revived McCarthyite loyal oaths straight out of the 1950s, forcing professors, job applicants, and students applying for college to pledge their commitment to “diversity” as a requisite for hiring, admittance, or promotion. Diversity is our era’s version of the Jacobins’ “Cult of Reason.”
Race relations hit a 50-year nadir. Joe Biden has a long history of racist insults and putdowns. And now as apparent penance, he has reinvented himself as a reverse racial provocateur, spouting nonsense about white supremacy, exploiting shootings or hyping racial tensions to ensure that an increasingly disgusted black electorate does not leave the new Democratic Party.
The military has adopted wokeism, oblivious that it has eroded meritocracy in the ranks and slashed military recruitment. It is underfunded, wracked by internal suspicion, loss of morale and ginned up racial and gender animosity. Its supply stocks are drained. Arms productions is snail-like, and generalship is seen as a revolving door to corporate defense contractor board riches.
Big-city Democratic district attorneys subverted the criminal justice system, destroyed law enforcement deterrence, and unleashed a record crime wave. Did they wish to create anarchy as protest against the normal, or were they Jokerist nihilists who delighted in sowing ruin for ruin’s sake?
Radical racial activists, with Democrat endorsement, demand polarizing racial reparations. The louder the demands, the quieter they remain about smash-and-grab looting, carjacking, and the swarming of malls by disproportionally black teens—even as black-on-black urban murders reach record proportions.
In response, Biden tried to exploit the growing tensions by spouting lies that “white supremacy” and “white privilege” fuel such racial unrest—even as his ill-gotten gains, past record of racist demagoguery and resulting lucre and mansions appear the epitome of his own so-called white privilege.
This litany of disasters could be vastly expanded, but more interesting is the why of it all?
What we are witnessing seems to be utter nihilism. The border is not porous but nonexistent. Mass looting and carjackings are not poorly punished, but simply exempt from all and any consequences. Our downtowns are reduced to a Hobbesian “war of all against all,” where the strong dictate to the weak and the latter adjust as they must. The streets of our major cities in just a few years have become precivilizational—there are more human feces on the sidewalks of San Francisco than were in the gutters of Medieval London.
The FBI and DOJ are not simply wayward and weaponized, but corrupt and renegade. Apparently the perquisite now for an FBI director is the ability either to lie while under oath or better to mask such lying by claiming amnesia or ignorance.
Immigration is akin to the vast unchecked influxes of the late Roman Empire across the Danube and Rhine that helped to finish off a millennium-old civilization that had lost all confidence in its culture and thus had no need for borders.
In other words, the revolution is not so much political as anarchist. Nothing escapes it—not ceiling fans, not natural gas cooktops, not parents at school board meetings, not Christian bakeries, not champion female swimmers, not dutiful policemen, not hard-working oil drillers, not privates and corporals in the armed forces, not teens applying on their merits to college, not anyone, anywhere, anytime.
The operating principle is either to allow or to engineer things to become so atrocious in everyday American life—the inability to afford food and fuel, the inability to walk safely in daylight in our major cities, the inability to afford to drive as one pleases, the inability to obtain or pay back a high interest loan—that the government can absorb the private sector and begin regimenting the masses along elite dictates. The more the people tire of the leftist agenda, the more its architects furiously seek to implement it, hoping that their institutional and cultural control can do what ballots cannot.
We could variously characterize their efforts as destroying the nation to save it, or burning it down to start over, or fundamentally transforming America into something never envisioned by the Founders.
Will their upheaval succeed? All the levers of the power and money are on the side of the revolutionaries. The people are not. And they are starting to wake to the notion if they do not stop the madness in their midst they very soon won’t have a country.