IS THE LEFT HAPPY THEY GOT THEIR WISH?
America has been in a veritable cultural revolution since the 1960s. Nearly all our major institutions finally became woke—the administrative state, traditional and social media, universities, K-12, the corporate boardroom, entertainment, professional sports, and the foundations.
So the Obama and the Biden administrations finally seemed to have achieved their aims, in what the Obamas once boasted would be the “fundamental transformation” of America into something unrecognizable by its Founders.
But what they gave us was nihilism—the destruction of norms, laws, and customs. There is no border, no criminal justice system, no real president any more.
The citizen is a serf, the illegal alien the veritable citizen. The former needs a passport to reenter the country, the latter is waved on through. There is a slob in gym shorts and a hoodie establishing dress codes for the Senate, teen murderers bragging that they won’t spend a day in jail, and a would-be state legislator filming herself doing sexual gymnastics while begging for cash only to be upset over the invasion of her “privacy.”
So the Left got what it wanted and gave us our new America.
The curious result, however, is that even the elite Left is now forced to live among, and cannot always escape, the ruination it created—and for the first time is becoming slightly unhappy with what it birthed.
Critical legal theory has now trickled down into most of our large cities. It insists that criminals are not criminals at all, but rather victims of prior racial and class oppressions. Thus their victims should blame society for their injuries, not their predatory victimizers.
Critical legal theory is a sort of Marxist redistribution schema—the middle class almost deserves its equal share of violence commensurate with that of the inner city.
As a result, in Chicago and Oakland and hundreds of other cities, prosecutors let out criminals without bail or sometimes even indictments—in part out of spite and hatred of middle- and upper-middle-class America that supposedly deserves a payback for its bourgeois indifference, in part out of sheer ignorance of the unleashing of human nature once all deterrence is removed.
And the result?
Anxious liberal professionals are fleeing our major cities in the greatest out-of-state migrations since the 1930s. Or they simply avoid their own downtowns. Or sometimes they are reduced to putting placards in their parked cars begging criminals not to smash and loot them, or, for the richer, hiring their own security guards, or using apps to warn others against deposits of urban human excrement on downtown sidewalks.
The Left, aside from their desire for new dependent constituents, felt borders were anachronistic constructs that unfairly denied the inherent and universal human right of the poor and oppressed to go anywhere they pleased, without legality or permission of their targeted hosts.
So they erased the southern border. Some 7-8 million illegal entries followed since January 2021.
And the result?
African-Americans in Chicago are demonstrating against mass influxes of illegal aliens into their cities who bury entitlements and social services. The Left used to calls such protests “xenophobia.”
Leftwing New York Mayor Eric Adams has gone from calling those racists who opposed illegal immigration to becoming a veritable nativist. He is now screaming that illegal aliens are “destroying” his city, damning the Biden administration, and warning of bankruptcy. Adams too is unhappy that leftists like himself finally got what they wanted.
Progressives recalibrated a tiny sliver of the population—well less than 1 percent—experiencing historically documented biological “sexual dysphoria” and announced that transgenderism was now both commonplace and an existential civil rights crisis involving anywhere from 5 to 20 percent of American youth and up to 40 percent on college campuses that appeal to the elite leftwing rich kids.
The Left demanded official recognition of multiple genders, the green-lighting of biological males competing in women’s sports, the mainstreaming of risqué drag queen shows often before audiences of minors, and the preemptive smearing of anyone who believed that sexuality is biologically determined rather than fluidly socially constructed.
And the result?
Corporate pile-ons and trendy transgendered advocacies have ruined Bud Light, once American’s premier beer brand. The once beloved but now woke and arrogant Disney Corporation is bleeding audiences, customers, and subscribers. Due to its provocative arrogance, Disney managed to become all but despised by half the nation. Ditto other woke major corporations from Target to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Parents—many of them doctrinaire liberals—of gifted female athletes whose careers are derailed by transgender males, of teenage girls who must use locker rooms with biological males, of small children who witness in-your-face drag queen exhibitions—now feel bushwhacked by their own prior advocacy.
The Left has waged a war on fossil fuels for decades. But once in power it has cancelled critical pipelines, restricted federal oil and gas leases, hectored oil and gas lenders, shut down entire oil fields, and issued arbitrary deadlines when internal combustion engines are to be banned, and clean burning natural gas appliances to be phased out.
And the result of turning the nation “green”?
Gasoline prices spiked to all-time highs, hurting most the poor and minorities, the supposed political base of the Democratic Party. When elections near, only then does a panicked Left begin draining the strategic petroleum reserve, while begging illiberal regimes abroad to pump more oil that they we will not—in a desperate effort to lower gas and diesel prices, at least temporarily until elections are over.
Bicoastal wealthy elites lecture down to Americans about the existential crisis of “climate change” and the radical revolutions necessary to “transition” (a favorite, multipurpose woke word) to solar, wind, and battery power.
And the result? Those who can least afford high energy prices now pay over $5 a gallon for gas and more for diesel in our wealthiest coastal blue states—on the directive of their affluent utopian advocates.
Leftwing rich liberals for a half century have virtue signaled their support for affirmative action and de facto racial quotas. The unspoken presumption was that they would always have the wherewithal to navigate around such systemic discrimination to ensure their own still went to the “right” colleges and universities and onto prestigious jobs and positions.
But then the woke revolution redefined affirmative action as “reparatory” admissions and hiring.
That radical expansion of racial quotas meant elite universities like Stanford and Princeton soon bragged in racist fashion that they would only admit so-called whites as 20-30 percent of their incoming classes, despite their traditional proportional representation of 65-70 percent of the general population.
Soon such progressive discriminatory policies meant that after athletes, so-called legacies, the children of faculty and administrators, and the offspring of multimillionaire donors were accommodated, the new tiny white quotas were completely exhausted—even for the anointed children of the bicoastal left.
High-paid suburban and progressive professionals whose privileged, and high achieving sons and daughters with 4.0-plus grade point averages and near perfect SAT scores, with an array of “community service” blue-ribbon resumés—were summarily rejected en mass from America’s most prestigious schools.
Prior SAT camps, prep schools, tutors, “extracurricular” enrichment summer excisions, and prestigious internships and apprenticeships went all for naught under the new racism.
And the result of the war on meritocracy? Elite liberals were shocked, shocked!
Such reverse-discrimination had traditionally targeted solely the children of deplorables, irredeemables, and clingers, the meritocratic lower white working classes, who were usually preposterously written off as white privileged and supremacists and thus usually summarily rejected.
Yet the architects of affirmative action never dreamed that their Frankensteinian creation would devolve into a quota monster devouring its parent.
As far as the professors, who opportunistically applauded the new -studies therapeutic courses, the DEI-apparat, the reparatory admissions, as well as the end of SAT and ACT scores and of the comparative ranking of high-school GPAs?
For those who taught real disciplines—languages, traditional history and literature, science, math, and engineering—they faced three dilemmas under the new nonmeritocratic admissions: 1) inflate their grades, 2) reduce class requirements, or 3) maintain grading and course standards and thus be targeted by DEI commissars should their grading reveal a “systemic” pattern of “racism.”
After spending their careers damning administrative “bloat,” and the siphoning of university resources from teaching to fund administrative fiefdoms, suddenly faculty were forced to agree that they needed thousands of DEI supervisors and commissars, who were even more superfluous but also far more intrusive into faculty autonomy than the old-boy functionaries of the past.
The result? Is it now “All administrators are bad, but some are not as bad as others?”
These examples of liberal utopianism backfiring on its godfathers are becoming endless as the Jacobin revolution known as woke destroys meritocracy, the ancient laws of human nature, pragmatism, and common sense. Will the revolution then finally wither away once it continues to gulp down its own privileged woke sacred cows?
Perhaps, but perhaps not.
Woke is a religion, not an empirically based revolution. It requires blind faith and ideological zealotry that ignores data, smears apostates as blasphemers, and is fueled by a climate of fear as it uses public shaming, cancel culture, doxing, shadow banning, ostracism, and career destruction to bulldoze ahead.
That it is now mowing down its originators may not matter much, even if for the short term the current boomeranging should be teaching leftists that their ideology is unworkable and ultimately destructive of civilization.
History, after all, is replete with misguided zealots who even to the very first shot of their own firing squads still believed in the catastrophic cultural and political upheavals they had unleashed on others.
Partly woke continues, then, because its privileged creators still cling to the belief, “What I create for others, certainly will not apply to me and mine.”
And when it does, as it is beginning to now, they stay long in denial and continue their woke advocacy because they still hope their progressive piety and fides will someday earn them heaven on earth.
Victor Davis Hanson is an American military historian, author, classics professor emeritus, and scholar of ancient warfare. He is currently the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.