Historian’s Corner: Assessing America in the Age of Woke

Victor Davis Hanson // Private Papers

Part Two


The Left has atomized traditionalist American culture. Campus curricula are designed to indoctrinate and graduate cultural Marxists. Society itself is already seeing the result in a general decline in services and professions as the academic quality of college graduates continues to erode. When we get official government notices, or talk to bureaucrats or read of public policy, we expect such communications to be incoherent rather than just weaponized, the work of high-schoolers not of college graduates. Twenty-something BA holders who are as arrogant as they are ignorant do not bode well for the country over the next 50 years.  

In response, half the nation lives in a monastery of the mind—ignoring professional sports, turning off most network news and increasingly network entertainment, avoiding going to the movies, staying clear of college campuses, relying on home-schooling, charter and parochial schools, listening only to select podcasts, shunning the major cities, detouring around blue states and counties, keeping quiet about politics, increasingly arming, moving to red counties and states, not reading the major newspapers, and bonding with family and similarly minded friends. We have not seen such hardening geographical separatism since the Civil War and you readers understand the perilous implications for the nation better than I.

But note: few Leftists anymore are moving to New York, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, or Minneapolis. Many progressives are quietly riding out the insanity within their own ranks or thinking of moving to a place that will not implement their own crackpot theories. They know Leftism is a nice boutique distraction that can enhance restaurants and produce fine wines, funky small shops, and good bed-and-breakfast inns—as long as there are enough traditional adults (whom they will vote against) still to run the government. Heaven for a leftist is to reside in a leftwing community in a red state. Hell for a conservative is to be in a red county stuck in a blue state.


In terms of race, a strange bifurcation is occurring. 

Black, Latino, and Asian elites are increasingly becoming radicalized. And they are promoting issues that their own traditionalist constituencies do not necessarily support—from transgenderism and green mandates to critical race theory, reparations, open borders, radical abortion, and mandatory woke re-education training. For example, the Asian-American majority knows that when the elderly walk alone in a city like San Francisco or New York, the danger of an anti-Asian hate crime will more likely come from an African-American than a white male. And they know that their own loud, activist leadership, for purposes of its careers and psyches, will insist on just the opposite. Ditto the phenomenon with Jews being attacked not by “white anti-Semites” as they are lectured, but by Hamas supporters and largely those with Middle Eastern backgrounds.

Mexican-American of three generations in America know that open borders allow dangerous gang bangers into their communities, crowd out the advanced-placement curricula in their neighborhood schools, and make the use of swarmed government services far more difficult—even as their leaders, seeking a reenergized dependent immigrant constituencies, insist that border security is “racist.”

This class division among Democrats is growing. Mirabile dictu, it occurs even as the Republican Party is focusing on the working classes of all races. The result is that while Republicans are losing the corporate and intellectual “elite,” they are winning over a lot of working-class Democrats, Hispanics, and Asians, and achieving some small gains among blacks—all worried about energy costs, high taxes, crime, and borders. If these bipolar trends were to accelerate, the Democratic Party will continue to become the home of the very rich but culturally become estranged from half of minority America. 

The unknowns are twofold: will the Democrats reset and try to win back the working class, and will the Never Trump/Lincoln Project/Bulwark/McCain wing take back the Republican Party led by Ben Sasse and Mitt Romney types? I don’t see either happening.

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9 thoughts on “Historian’s Corner: Assessing America in the Age of Woke

  1. The last “working-class Dems” are the union members. It’s a somewhat known fact that most blue-collar people not in unions are not fond of them. They are a “walled-garden”, raise prices, and restrict employment. Of the rest of blue-collar people, there is nothing in the Dem agenda of tranniehood, gay rights, elevation of POC over non-POC, and the other social agenda.

    The hidden issue is parental rights. Parents can lose control of their minor children in Junior high if the child says that he is “unsafe” at home. Unsafe can mean “my mom takes away my cell phone at night”. These children can be renamed in school against parental wishes, be given hormones, and be given instruction by social worker nazis about how to seek “emancipation”, which is legal adulthood as a child. This is not well known, and would immediately conservatize many librul adults.

  2. The woke love Biden, blinded by his soothing demeanor and economy of words. They fail to recognize his stumbling manner signifies an older man, in his declining years, lacking energy and without much cognitive imagination. It’s a trait to be pitied, not glorified. To see it as refreshing is the ultimate denial of a sad truth.

    Fortunately, he has a cognitive team around him to take the initiative. But by its nature, multiple leaders lack a coordinated approach and can’t put forth a unified strategy other than the broadest of platitudes. That does not bode well for America.

    I recently returned from a month-long car trip from Florida through the south, to Texas up to Colorado and Wyoming, and back to Florida, during which I spoke with hundreds of small business owners and their workers. I found increasing anxiety among these people that we’re on the wrong path, evidenced by their comments to me and the growing number of Trump signs on the roadside.

    It’s very different than the beltway view of America. If this continues, or god save us, worsens, Democrats may be in for a historic loss in 2022.

  3. You wrote, “The Left has atomized traditionalist American culture. “, On the latter: If the American culture lost, America is lost. The American culture is one of predominantly Whites/Europeans/Caucasians, with a smattering of others. A demographic that includes 39% Blacks and “Hispanics” is not an American demographic. You also wrote, “… the work of high-schoolers not of college graduates.” I assume that you read Michelle Obama’s Princeton senior thesis.

  4. The Republicans may be losing some of the corporate elite, but it is most likely the executives of industries with little reliance on blue collar workers – law, finance, software, etc. Those executives in industries that do rely on such workers, such as agriculture, logistics, construction, manufacturing, or resource extraction, probably have largely stuck with the Republicans or gone Libertarian. One of the remarkable things the Democrats have been doing is aligning the interests of labor with their managers and investors, all in the interests of mutual survival. Weird times.

  5. Victor, the Jews may be a special case. There are small-business owners, to be sure, but there isn’t really a “working class” as the term is usually meant. On the other hand, the Orthodox Jews are a category of their own, with a high percentage of Republican voters.

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