The Remaking of America
Every aspect of American life and culture is under assault
By Victor Davis Hanson
August 7, 2023
We are in the midst of one of the most radical revolutions in American history. It is as far-reaching and dangerous as the turbulent years of the 1850s and 1860s or the 1930s. Every aspect of American life and culture is under assault, including the very processes by which we govern ourselves, and the manner in which we live.
The Revolution began under the Obama administration that sought to divide Americans into oppressed and oppressors, and then substitute race for class victimization. It was empowered by the bicoastal wealth accrued from globalization, and honed during the COVID lockdown, quarantine-fed economic downturn, and the George Floyd riots and their aftermath. The Revolution was boosted by fanatic opposition to the presidency of Donald Trump. And the result is an America that is unrecognizable from what it was a mere decade ago.
Here are 10 upheavals that the Left has successfully wrought.
Free expression. In large swatches of American society—particularly the corporation, the media, the government, the public schools, and the university—it is suddenly dangerous to speak freely. At a DEI workshop, politely object that “whiteness” does not account for all the challenges of “marginalized peoples,” and you will become either ostracized, reprimanded, or perhaps fired.
Suggest to a class that man-made climate change and the state remedies for it, are still under debate—and your career and livelihood are endangered. In 2020, state that Covid lockdowns would do more eventual damage than the virus—and your career was through. Express doubt that there are more than two biological sexes, and if an athlete or high school principal you will be shunned or rendered professionally inert.
The government, in league with social media, censors the news. “Liberal” universities often first require McCarthy-era type “diversity” statements for one to be hired. Commissars review syllabi to spot incorrect or improper speech or insufficient DEI zeal.
The Left now seeks to modify the First Amendment, and its empowerment of “hate speech,” defined as most anything impeding the progressive project. The state and the universities properly issue word lists of approved vocabularies.
The old ACLU or Sen. Church Committee would now probably be deemed rightwing. The methodologies of Joseph McCarthy and J. Edgar Hoover are the preferred models, once they were rebooted to the right cause.
The Weaponization of Justice. Administrations and their efforts to stock the justice department with supporters come and go. But in the last decade the Left has viewed the Department of Justice as a political extension of the party—whose unchecked power must properly be directed to hurt enemies and help friends. No wonder Eric Holder described himself as Obama’s “wingman” and became the first Attorney General to be held in contempt for ignoring a congressional subpoena.
Never in U.S. history have the Department of Justice and sympathetic state and local prosecutors indicted a leading opposition candidate and likely nominee of one of the two major parties, and at the beginning of a presidential campaign. Donald Trump is currently charged with nearly 100 felonies by at least two prosecutors. He likely eventually will be hit with more than- 500 indictments, from four prosecutors, every one of the latter with a long record of either leftwing associations or Democratic service.
The mass murderer Charles Manson faced less legal exposure. No one believes Trump would have been indicted on such counts—most of them involving allegations from years past—were he not running for President.
One count that Donald Trump is not charged with is bribery, or taking money while in office, a crime cited as impeachable in the Constitution and germane to the accusations that Joe Biden and his family raked in millions from foreign governments due to the improper use of his prior Vice Presidency. For what reason did Joe Biden lie that he never discussed his son’s business? Why did Hunter complain to his daughter that Joe demanded half of his own grifting income? Why would a Vice President serially call disreputable American grifters and foreign corrupt oligarchs? Can Joe’s lifestyle ever be reconciled with his reported income?
Given such asymmetry in the application of the laws, conservative or even apolitical Americans are apprehensive that any political prominence will draw the attention of government in effort to either indict or bankrupt them with legal expenses.
The last four FBI Directors have either admitted they lied under oath, or preposterously under oath claimed ignorance or amnesia about events directly under their control. Or they simply stonewalled subpoenas and testimonies about alleged FBI crimes.
The former CIA Director admitted to lying twice under oath. The FBI hired social media corporations to suppress election-cycle news deemed unhelpful to the Left. The agency, along with Democratic operatives, helped hatch the election-cycle conspiracy of the 2015-2016 Russian-Collusion hoax, and the 2020 Russian disinformation laptop hoax. The FBI played a central role in many of the 2024 indictments. In other words, the FBI along with the DOJ, has sought to warp three presidential elections in a row.
On the prompt of a Joe Biden campaign official (and now Secretary of State) and a former interim CIA director, 50 former intelligence officials lied to the electorate that an authentic but incriminating Biden computer was a likely Russian plant—a fact known to be lie but not disclosed as such by the FBI.
The Attack on the Supreme Court. Once the Court achieved a more or less predictable conservative majority, the Left sought to diminish it in a variety of ways. It has called for packing the Court with leftist jurists to create a new 15-justice bench. Leftist law professors in the Ivy League, in neo-Confederate nullification and insurrectionary style, call for the nation to ignore Court rulings on abortion and affirmative action.
The Senate minority leader led a throng to the doors of the court, threatening justices by name: “You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price. You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
Protestors now mob the homes of individual justices hoping to intimidate them and alter their upcoming opinions—confident that the Department of Justice will exempt them from any legal consequences of such felonious behavior.
The media routinely accuses conservative justices of improper or illegal behavior, without worry about the emptiness of the charges. A traditionalist justice now accepts that a controversial ruling can result in media charges that he is corrupt, in shrieking protestors mobbing his home, in a mob assembling at the doors of the Court, in disruptions during Court hearings, in politicians issuing threats to his person, in congressional calls to alter the century-and-a-half make-up of the Court, and in Ivy League law professors urging the country to ignore majority decisions.
In sum, a conservative jurist must be careful where and when he goes out in public.
The Media-Democratic Fusion. If one were to listen during the last few years to NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, PBS, MSNBC, or CNN, or read the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, or the Los Angeles Times, then one would have believed the following:
A) Donald Trump worked with the Russians to throw and win the 2016 election. As part of that skullduggery, frolicking amid prostitutes he urinated on a Moscow hotel bed to spite Barack Obama. B) He was mentally incapacitated as president and should have been removed under the 25th Amendment. C) In 2020, his campaign once more worked with the Russians to create an exact replica of Hunter Biden’s laptop, replete with dozens of lurid fake photos and hundreds of cleverly doctored emails to smear the Biden family and aid his own reelection effort. D) Trump as chief conspirator preplanned a violent and armed insurrection that sought to storm and permanently occupy the government, violently hijacking the balloting and seizing the presidency—resulting in the murder of a Capitol police officer and the subsequent deaths of other traumatized officers.
E) For the last eight years, none of Trump’s political opponents have ever destroyed subpoenaed evidence, conspired to hire foreign nationals to compile false and lurid files on him to subvert his political campaigns, or used their political offices to help solicit foreign money for family lobbyists. F) Trump is the first major candidate and politician who allegedly overvalued his real assets to obtain a loan that he repaid; the first to have concluded non-disclosure agreements with potential embarrassing liaisons; the first ex-president to remove sensitive files to his personal residence; and the first to phone a state official to whine about the integrity of the vote count. G) He is the first losing presidential candidate or major politician to question an election result or to seek redress through government agencies to rectify the purported corruption of the balloting.
In sum, for the first time in American history, nearly all the major communication and journalistic networks have been fused with a political party. They believe the new role of the media is to advance a shared progressive cause, oppose and even defame common opponents, and feed their audiences things that are not, and cannot possibly be, true.
The Destruction of Common Law. By defunding the police in major cities, and by showering leftwing district attorney candidates with millions of dollars in campaign funding, the Left systematically eroded the law as we know it in our major cities.
As a result, downtowns are after-dark, no-go zones, as once great metropolises resemble veritable combat theaters. Cities are becoming depopulated as consumers and businesses no longer find it safe to conduct commerce. Criminals and homeless now routinely break the law with impunity. Public violence, defecation, urination, fornication, and injection do not even rate as misdemeanors.
The Left has redefined violent crime to such an extent that shoplifting is no longer actionable. Flash mobs that take over streets and swarm to loot stores are rarely if ever arrested. Security officers who apprehend thieves or intervene to stop violence are more likely to be prosecuted than criminals themselves. There is no longer any immigration law; it has been utterly destroyed by Joe Biden. Seven-million illegal entrants flood into the U.S. and, along with the Mexican government, make demands on their hosts to accommodate their illegality.
In sum, in blue states and at the federal level, leftwing prosecutors and justices decide to enforce or ignore statutes, pile up or reduce indictments, increase or decrease punishments not on what the law entails, or evidence directs, but on the race, class, or ideology of the perpetrator, usually in connection with the particular status of his victims. If asymmetry in race, class, or ideology is suggested, then the law must modulate in redistributive fashion to contextualize the crime and criminal as a victim rather than a victimizer. The result is the veritable destruction of law and order as we once knew it.
The Erosion of the Military. Rarely has the American people polled so little confidence in the U.S. military. It perceives the Pentagon mission largely one to greenlight social change through the rapidity of the chain of command, not necessarily to maintain deterrence, much less to win all its wars.
The Left has ensured that our armed forces are underfunded, short on munitions and weapons, and military officers are used to promote progressive social agendas. Officers expect to be promoted or stalled on the basis of their views on race and gender.
Those who traditionally died at twice their numbers in the general population in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan are ostracized and in near record numbers leaving, while their friends and relatives are no longer enlisting in the military.
Former Pentagon four-star officers violated the Code of Uniform Military Justice in attacking a sitting president with the harshest invective, invoking comparisons to Hitler and Mussolini, again predictably from a leftwing point of view.
The public expects the Joint Chiefs to be both appointed on ideological considerations, and from time to time even to free-lance to contact enemy counterparts should they feel a conservative president is dangerous to world peace.
There is no longer any social stigma or legal jeopardy for retired officers in working as defense contractor lobbyists or board members, after revolving from or soon back to the Pentagon.
Sexes. The heterosexual male and female, marriage, and the nuclear family are all to be suspect. There are three sexes or perhaps still more. English language pronouns are inadequate to reflect sexual diversity.
So adherence to such ossified languages is career endangering. An epidemic of childlessness, singlehood, and collapsing fertility rates are either of no national importance or illustrate the preferred non-nuclear family model. Powerful hormonal drug regimens and permanent radical sex-change surgery should be the choices of minors alone who know best when they choose to transition to another sex. Graphic sex manuals and drag queen shows with simulated sex acts can perhaps acculturate preteens to the dangers of growing up in an oppressive “normative” binary society.
Sex, but not race, is constructed, and thus a matter not of biology but of individual choice.
Race, Not Class. Racial inequality and lack of parity are due to “whiteness.” Racial quotas, segregated dorms, graduations, workshops, and safe spaces are exempt from civil rights statutes given they are necessary to achieve equity. Integration and assimilation are the opiates of the masses. Apartheid and segregation are misunderstood modalities, and thus, if enlightened, sometimes necessary corrective measures.
Reparations are to supersede ineffective affirmative action. Wokeness liberates us to see how race explains everything in America, past and present. At universities and in popular culture “proportional representation” of various ethnicities and races is no longer sufficient remedy.
Instead reparatory hiring and admissions are required to atone for prior generations of discrimination. It is taboo to suggest that cultural conditions not just race accounts for inequality. Everything from meritocracy to promptness to physical fitness is racist in nature, requiring DEI experts to expose and inform about the systemic nature of American racism.
Debt is a Construct. Modern monetary theory proved that annual deficits and national debt are just a state accounting challenge. So printing more money is an act that properly diminishes the value of existing capital improperly horded by parasitic profiteers. Spreading the ensuing cash wealth to the more deserving and victimized is long overdue social justice.
At any time, the national “debt” can be deconstructed by renouncing usurious bond obligations, appropriating private retirement accounts, or further inflating the currency—if governments are committed enough to social justice.
Universities. It is now heresy that universities should be places of disinterested inquiry and inductive investigation. They can properly instead become a valuable tool in ridding society of racist and sexist forces, platitudes about free speech and equality under the law, and the tyranny of private property, capitalist profiteering, and white, male heterosexual Christian oppression.
So the role of a university is to create a brief safe space in which graduates can leave with proper training about the terrible history of the United States and the ways in which it must be dismantled and then be rebuilt by the properly trained experts from the ground up. Counterrevolutionaries or deluded liberals and their quaint adherence to a racist and archaic Bill of Rights have no place on these islands of progressive resistance.
None of the above was true at the millennium; all are now—with more still to come.
About Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. 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, The Case for Trump and the recently released The Dying Citizen.