by Victor Davis Hanson
Until Donald Trump’s arrival, the globalist revolution was almost solidified and institutionalized – with the United States increasingly its greatest and most “woke” advocate. We know its bipartisan establishment contours.
China would inherit the world in 20 or 30 years. The self-appointed task of American elites – many of whom had already been enriched and compromised by Chinese partners and joint ventures – was to facilitate this all-in-the-family transition in the manner of the imperial British hand-off of hegemony to the United States in the late 1940s.
Our best and brightest like the Biden family, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg would enlighten us about the “real” China, so we yokels would not fall into Neanderthal bitterness as they managed our foreordained decline.
We would usher China into “the world community” – grimacing at, but overlooking the destruction it wrought on the global commercial order and the American interior.
We would politely forget about Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet, and the Uyghurs. Hollywood would nod as it put out more lucrative comic-book and cartoonish films for the Chinese markets, albeit with mandated lighter-skinned actors.
The NBA would nod twice and trash a democratic United States, while praising genocidal China – becoming richer and more esteemed abroad to make up for becoming boring and poorer at home. The universities would nod three times, and see a crime not in Chinese espionage and security breaches, but in the reporting of them as crimes.
So our revolutionary role would be to play stuffy and snooty Athenian philosophers to the new muscular Roman legions of China.
Given our elites’ superior morality, genius, and sense of self, we would gently chide and cajole our Chinese masters into becoming enlightened world overseers and democrats – all the easier, the richer and more affluent Chinese became.
For now, Trump has stopped that revolution.
Until Trump’s arrival, Big Tech was three-quarters home on the road to Nineteen Eighty-Four. Five or six companies monopolized most American – and indeed the world’s – access and use of the internet. In cynical fashion, Silicon Valley grandees patronized naïve conservatives that they were the supposed embodiment of Milton Friedman libertarianism and 19th century robber baron daring. Yet to their leftist kindred, the moguls of Menlo Park simultaneously whispered, “Don’t worry about such necessary disinformation: we will enrich only your candidates, only your agendas, only your foundations, only your universities – in exchange for your exemptions.”
Antitrust legislation was as much an anathema to good liberals as rigging searches, institutionalizing the cancel culture, and censoring thoughts and ideas were welcomed. For now Trump, almost alone, is battling that revolution.
Until Trump’s arrival, there was increasingly no border at all. Fifty-million foreign-born resided, both legally and illegally, in the United States. Nearly a million annually walked northward across the border with ease and without legal sanction or invitation. To object to illegal immigration and decry its deleterious effects on the entry-level wages of our working poor, on the social safety net of the American needy, and on the sanctity of the law was to be smeared as racist, xenophobic, and nativist.
More than a quarter of California’s current resident population were not born in the United States. That desirous “new demography” since 1988 had flipped California into a caring blue state. Open borders and the end of immigration law enforcement had pushed Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado into just Democratic societies, and was supposedly soon to transform Texas and Arizona into enlightened states. For now, Trump – with his soon-to-be 400-mile wall, his beefed up ICE, and his war on sanctuary nullification zones – has nearly stopped the revolution to end borders.
Until Trump, the American interior was loser country. In-between the two gilded coasts resided the deplorables, irredeemables, clingers, the smelly Walmart patrons decried in the Page-Strzok text echanges, those John McCain called “crazies,” and Joe Biden has variously called the “dregs,” the “chumps” and the “ugly folks.” They were written off as Morlocks, who were occasionally seen poking about the rotting, rusting skeletons of abandoned steel plants, and for some reason never had proper orthodontics as children.
Obama laughed about the “magic wand” needed to revive these unrevivable people. Larry Summers reportedly called such an idea a “fantasy.” He was said to have praised the meritocracy that properly gives to such losers what they justly deserve. Very caring and very humane elites felt very little for supposedly very expendable riffraff.
Translated, that meant on the eve of the Chinese takeover, our clueless deplorables never learned to code, or to borrow $200,000 to get a woke-studies education, and so deserved the opioids they took and the trailers they crashed in.
Few apostates said, “Wait a minute! The United States has cheaper energy than anywhere on earth, a skilled workforce, a huge domestic market, and a still-viable infrastructure. There was a reason why Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania once led the world and why they can again.” Through tax reform, deregulation, trade rebooting, a new foreign policy, and loud jawboning, Trump for a while has stopped the revolution that was destroying our once greatest states.
Until Trump, the woke cultural wars were just about won by the elites. Seeking unity was dead; chest-pounding diversity, often the spark that had ignited history’s multiracial societies, was ascendent.
The melting pot that sought to make race incidental was deemed racist; the salad bowl that made our superficial appearances essential was celebrated. Quite affluent, self-appointed minority leaders, with their quite wealthy white liberal counterparts, established who is, and who “ain’t,” “really” black – the definition resting on whether one was loyally left-wing or disloyally independent-minded.
The success of civil rights was not to be calibrated by black unemployment figures, household income, family businesses, dignity in having leverage over employers, access to competitive parochial and charter schools, or descending abortion rates, but in electing more activists as progressive mayors, liberal city councilmembers, and leftist district attorneys to garner more redistributive state money to hire more careerists like themselves.
Trump, branded a bigot and racist, for now has sought to end that revolution, and measure race relations not by how many minority elites have choice jobs and high incomes, but by how well the entire minority community reaches income and employment parity with the general population—an idea that will earn the “racist” Trump far greater minority support than was expressed for John McCain and Mitt Romney.
Can the Revolution Be Stopped?
We are in the midst of a cultural revolution, for the most part driven by angry middle-and upper-class white youth of Antifa and its sympathizers, wannabes, and enablers. Many are humiliated that they have college pedigrees, lots of multi thousand-dollar debt, plenty of woke-studies classes to their credit, but still have no real jobs, no real knowledge, and no real immediate chances of buying a house, marrying, and raising a family in their 20s.
Nothing in history is more dangerous than the underemployed wannabe intellectual or college graduate, whose cultivated sense of superiority is not matched by his income or standard of living, but who blames “them” for his own self-inflicted miseries and unappreciated genius.
The revolution toppled statues, renamed what it did not like, Trotskyized the past, photoshopped the present, and used language, government, and cultural intimidation to do its best to make America into Animal Farm.
Corporate CEOs in terror washed the feet of the woke. University presidents, fearful for their status and careers, wrote incomprehensible memos admitting their past sins and asking how best to do present penance. Hollywood studio owners promised race and gender quotas, with ample provisions that – in the manner of NBA and NFL owners – adjustments and exceptions could be worked out for themselves.
Somewhere, somehow graduations, dorms, and campus spaces, all segregated by race, became “liberal.” Intermarriage, integration, and assimilation were shamefully illiberal. Standing for the National Anthem was unpatriotic; sitting in disdain for it, cool. Donald Trump fought that revolution too.
What tools did Donald Trump have to wage these many counterrevolutions?
The media? America’s Fortune 400? Academia? The great foundations? The nation’s think tanks? The bipartisan government establishment? The international community? The banks? Wall Street? Corporate CEOs? Silicon Valley? Professional sports? The entertainment industry? Hollywood? The intelligence community? The current and retired top military brass?
In fact, none of them. All had joined or enabled the revolution, on the theory either that their wealth and influence would shield them and their own from its excesses, or like naïve Kerenskyites their status would impress and win over even those who targeted them, or they were inner revolutionaries themselves all along, just waiting to be freed at last by BLM and Antifa.
Against all that money and clout, the counterrevolutionary Trump had only one asset, the proverbial people. He had solely the under-polled and the written-off. They came out to his rallies in the tens of thousands, deluded the pollsters, and told the media less than nothing, but voted and will vote in waves to save America from what it was becoming.
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Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, columnist, former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He was a professor of classics at California State University, Fresno, and is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict was Fought and Won (Basic Books).