Historian’s Corner: Assessing America in the Age of Woke Part One
By: Victor Davis Hanson
Victor Davis Hanson // Private Papers
June 15, 2021
Hat Tip: Rip McIntosh
Wokism took off in June 2020. It became institutionalized after Joe Biden became president. We have now had nearly five months of the radical Biden political agenda to seep through the larger popular culture. So where are we now in this suddenly strange and nearly unrecognizable land?
EconomicallyFor all Biden’s socialist talk, so far the Trump deregulation and tax cuts are still in effect. Their fumes should fuel a short recovery boom, given pent-up demand and post-Covid mania to eat out, to travel, to splurge, and to buy. Eventually, most Americans will leave their home lotus-eating pads and re-climatize back to work.
But the continuance of recessionary stimulus packages has created near-permanent trillion-plus-dollar deficits. We will see very soon a $30 trillion national debt. Incentives for the unemployed still discourage work — at the very time producers are wary and for good reasons. We learned in seventh grade that too many dollars chasing too few goods results in inflation and eventually economic recession, stagflation, or collapse.
Indeed, inflation may be growing at an annualized rate of six to nine percent, depending on whether one counts housing prices, fuels, appliances, cars, other big-ticket commodities, and services as part of the general rise in the cost of living. Biden has frightened producers with Draconian anti-fossil fuel executive orders, ranging from canceling pipelines to putting Anwar off-limits again and discouraging frackers to take risks to meet spiraling gasoline demand. Talk of huge increases in income, corporate, capital gains, payroll, and estate taxes further will dampen producers’ confidence—even if they are not immediately implemented. The idea of 30-year mortgages at the current 2.5 to 3.0 percent interest, as money annually erodes in value by eight percent, is untenable. And the Fed may intervene in the fall—cautiously at first, in panic thereafter. Add it all up: we are entering a new sort of socialist economy, restrained only by the tenuous check of a 50/50 Senate. It is no exaggeration that, economically at least, the US is now headed to the left of the EU.
In 1980, I began farming and by year’s end thought a 14-percent interest ag loan was a godsend, and farm supplies that went up only one-percent a month were a steal. That surrealism can return, although generations that have enjoyed mostly a subsequent 40-years of low inflation and reasonable interest rates are clueless about what is on the horizon.
PoliticallyThe country is divided 50/50, or so we are told. No one knows, however, the volatile views of 10-15 percent of the electorate. On this teeter-totter are the mystical swing suburban voters, the Independents, the Never Trumpers, and the vestigial Blue Dogs. So far, they are clinging to the myth of Old Joe Biden From Scranton who is neither Donald Trump tweeting nor a puppet of the hard left.
But violent crime is rising and spreading into the suburbs—without much evidence that criminals are being arrested, indicted, convicted, and locked up. Race in a myriad of ways is defining how crime is massaged and adjudicated, by the media and the police. The godhead of Critical Race Theory is not Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” but a flip progressive version of Bull Connor, in which race alone defines us and expressing hatred of one race is the pastime of the woke elite.
Woke mandatory brainwashing and reeducation are spreading throughout the workforce. Our major institutions such as the campus, the military, the corporate boardroom, Wall Street, and K-12 are in chaos. Would-be opportunistic and careerist Maoists come out of the woodwork to insist on using these platforms to reinvent us along the lines of the 1619 vision.
So will Biden get a strong rebuke in 2022, as do most presidents in their first midterms?
I think he will. But the question is will the backlash be large enough to defeat the progressive/deep-state/media fusion? Can the pushback overcome the huge influxes of leftwing corporate money of the Zuckerberg sort that were bragged upon by the Left as so effective in 2020 in targeting precincts to “incentivize” (some) voters? And can the reaction overcome changes in voting laws that are making Election Day balloting mostly an anachronism?
If Biden were to keep the House and Senate, many of the unwoke are not confident about the future viability of the US, at least as envisioned over the last 232 years as a constitutional republic by our founders.