Key Takeaways

  • Contrast Between Nationalism and Internationalism: Hanson explores the negative connotations of nationalism in recent history, emphasizing the shift in perception towards nationalism, especially in the context of German history and its impact on the term’s evolution.
  • Historical Perspective on Nationalism: The talk delves into the origins of nationalism, highlighting its development as a unifying concept in contrast to the fragmented political states in ancient times, particularly in Italy and Germany.
  • The Dark Side of Nationalism: Hanson discusses how nationalism’s concept was distorted, particularly by Nazi Germany, leading to an association of nationalism with racial purity and exclusion, negatively impacting its perception.
  • Nationalism vs. Imperialism and the Modern Nation-State: The presentation covers the transition from imperial rule to national self-determination, advocating for a balanced form of nationalism that respects diversity within a unified national identity.
  • The American Experiment: Hanson points out the unique position of the United States in blending diverse races, ethnic backgrounds, and creeds without coercion, emphasizing the role of a shared national story and constitutional principles in uniting Americans.
  • Challenges to American Citizenship and National Identity: The talk addresses contemporary challenges to citizenship, including illegal immigration and the blurring lines between citizens and residents, leading to societal fragmentation.
  • Decline of the Middle Class and Its Implications for Nationalism: Hanson expresses concern over the erosion of the middle class, linking its decline to broader societal issues, including a loss of national cohesion and identity.
  • Globalism vs. Nationalism: The presentation critiques the elite’s preference for globalism over nationalism, warning against abandoning national sovereignty and the principles of the U.S. Constitution.
  • Cultural and Political Polarization: Hanson concludes by reflecting on the cultural and political polarization threatening the fabric of American society, calling for a return to the principles that have historically united the nation.

Introduction and Welcome Remarks

Victor Davis Hanson

SPEAKER: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Please find your seats. Wow, you listened very well. Thank you. Welcome to Plaster Auditorium. Isn’t this a beautiful place? I can’t wait for you to see the chapel. If you’ve not gone just to stand outside, you have to do that. It just takes your breath away. Not even going inside, just the outside part—unbelievable.

It is my pleasure to introduce this afternoon’s speaker, Dr. Victor Davis Hanson. Dr. Hanson is the Wayne and Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History at Hillsdale College. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor of classics emeritus at California State University, Fresno. He earned his BA at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his PhD in classics from Stanford University. In 2007, he was awarded the National Humanities Medal. And in 2008, he received the Bradley Prize from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. He’s written for numerous publications, including the Claremont Review of Books, The New Criterion, and the Wall Street Journal. He is the author of several books, including *A War Like No Other—How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War* and *The Second World War—The First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won*. Ladies and gentlemen, please help me warmly bring up Dr. Victor Davis Hanson.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Thank you very much for coming out. This is the 16th year I’ve taught at Hillsdale. And I live on a farm in central California. And I never tell anybody where I’m going, so my wife said the other day, one of our neighbors, a farmer, said, did he go to that weird place again? And when does he come back? So I have kind of a stealth life here that nobody knows about.

The Concept of Nationalism

Have you ever asked yourself, if you were to describe yourself– and can you imagine if you said, I’m a nationalist compared to if you said, I’m an internationalist? What if your child came home, instead of saying, I major in IR, international relations, they said, I major in NR, nationalist relations? You can imagine the pushback you would get.

What I’m getting at is “nationalism” is not a good word, at least until the last two years. That’s kind of peculiar because the word comes from the Latin “natio.” And it was considered, even in antiquity, a progressive idea that, unlike the Greek city-state where people of the same language, roughly the same traditions, the same ethnic background were politically fragmented, in Italy they came up with a new concept of unification. And they thought that that would be a more equitable and successful way of solving rivalries between different people.

Historical Perspective on Nationalism

So what happened to the concept? Woodrow Wilson, remember, went to Versailles in January of 1919 promising that people who spoke the same language and had the same ethnic background and mostly the same religion would get to have their own national destiny. They would not be subject to imperial rule by others. So what happened? I think very briefly, the answer’s Germany, until the French Revolution sort of gave a catalyst to the modern idea of nationalism, the Congress of Vienna. But the unification of Germany, creating the largest country in Europe warped the idea of nationalism because it was a little bit different than the other European countries.

And by that, I mean it was involved in three wars– the Franco-Prussian War of 1871; it invaded Denmark, Belgium, and France in 1914; and, of course, it went into Poland in 1939 on September 1 and triggered World War II. But it wasn’t just people who felt that Germany was aggressive, but people felt that they had redefined nationalism. By that, I mean even before national socialism of the 1930s, there was a movement in Germany that said that Germans are going to be defined by “blut und boden”– blood and soil. And what that meant was, you could live in Germany, within the boundaries of Germany, you could speak German, you could be a sixth generation German, you could be a Lutheran or a Catholic, but you would not be German if you didn’t have a particular racial ancestry. And that goes back to the 19th century when writers said that.

Nationalism in Germany vs. Rome’s Influence

And how did that happen in Germany and not France? And the answer was that in antiquity, Rome, which was a multiracial society like our own, had incorporated most of Western Europe and, to some degree, northern Europe, but not Germany. The Romans felt that these people were very fierce. They were beyond the Danube and the Rhine, and they were going to be let be. You read Tacitus’ essay on ancient Germany, “The Germania,” and he says they are very different people. And what had been sort of deprecatory in antiquity was flipped upside down after the unification of Germany, as that we were better because we’re never mongrelized. And that sort of discredited the idea of nationalism, because in Italy, Mussolini said, we have “La Razza” with two Z’s. It’s kind of scary, because it has a modern connotation. And then Franco wrote a novel—General Franco in Spain—called La Raza, believe it or not. And they both parroted the Nazi idea that you couldn’t be Spanish and Italian even if you spoke Italian or Spanish and you lived here, unless you had a racial essence. And by the way, if you look at the Constitution of Mexico today, it does say that immigration shall not impair the racial equilibrium of Mexico.

So what I’m getting at is there is a strain of nationalism that has polluted the otherwise positive view of nationalism. And it’s too bad because if you’re going to organize people—people are not born homogenic. There’s not a homogeneity that’s natural. So if you’re going to organize different people under a political framework, there’s a limited amount of choices. You can use force—force of religion, like the caliphate of the 14th century or the Ottoman Empire caliphate and force people to be Muslims of all different races and nationalities. Or you can be the Soviet Union and say, you may be Chechnyan or Ukrainian. But you’re a Marxist Leninist first of all. Or Yugoslavia—as long as Tito is alive and says we’re all Communists, we’re not Serbs or Bosnian. If you don’t use that imperial coercion, then you can do what Wilson thought was a liberal idea. You can allow people to create national boundaries based on their race. And you can have several of them. There can be an independent Serbia or Bosnia. And you can have this ethnic state. And as long as it treats its neighbors OK and Lithuania treats Estonia OK, there’s no problem.

The American Experiment: Unity Without Coercion

Usually that doesn’t happen very often in history. And there’s a third alternative. And it’s very rare. And that is to combine people of different races and ethnic backgrounds and creeds into one country and not use coercion. Rome pulled it off for a few centuries. And nobody has except us. And so what unites people in this audience that do not look like each other is a common national story—the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the 4th of July, the Gettysburg Address—and the notion that Faulkner or Steinbeck or The Last of the Mohicans does not belong to any particular race or creed. It’s an American idea. It’s the melting pot. And it has to be worked upon all the time, because it’s not a natural phenomenon. It’s a construct that we, in the melting pot, will unite people by ideas. And that means that Americans can look like anyone. None of you in this audience can go to Japan and say, I’m Japanese. Even if you’re legally Japanese, you’ll never be fully accepted.

Citizenship and Its Erosion

Same is true of China. I don’t think Condoleezza Rice could be chancellor of Germany today. I just don’t think it’s going to happen. We’re the only country that’s pulled this off. And the key to this benign or good nationalism is citizenship—the idea that the American citizen is unique.

And I’m very worried because I think citizenship is eroding and it’s becoming meaningless. And with it, nationalism is disappearing in the positive sense. And it’s happening in a very strange way at two levels. I guess we would call some of us pre-citizens and some of us post-citizen.

Pre-citizenship and Post-citizenship: The Changing Nature of Identity

And what’s common is we forgot how citizenry developed. It occurred for the first time in the seventh century in ancient Greece. And you know the word “politeia,” a citizen. You get political, policy, even police. And it was elaborated on and institutionalized in Rome as the “civis,” the civic—a “civis,” civic, civil, civilization. And the idea is that a particular resident within these boundaries was not a subject of a king or dictator. And he wasn’t a wild tribesman up in Gaul or Scandinavia. He was a unique person who could pass on property to his children. He could vote. He could make his own laws. And he had the choice when and where to live and how long. He was a free person, in other words. That seems self-evident now. It is very rare. There was nothing like it in the Near East, nothing like it in Sumeria or Egypt, nothing like it in tribal northern Europe. It was a unique idea. Nothing like it in the New World—Aztecs, no, Mayans, no.

But now what we’re trying to do, I guess in this country, either by laxity or by intent, is revert back to pre-citizenship. And it occurs at three levels. The first is, we’re blurring the line between a mere resident and a citizen. We have about 60 million residents in the United States—the largest number we’ve ever had—that are not US citizens. There’s no problem with 40 million because they have green cards and they’re legal, even though that’s a large number to assimilate, intermarry, and integrate into the body politic—something we should watch. What we have, according to the Yale and MIT latest study, is about 20 million people who are here illegally. And the strange thing about it is that the chief ingredients of American citizenship that said, an American citizen, and only American citizen, can leave or enter the country as he pleases or vote in an election as he wishes or stay indefinitely in the United States due to his legal rights, has been completely blurred. Where I live in California, or if you’re here illegally, you can go back across the border as you wish.

Legal and Social Distinctions Between Residents and Citizens

In San Francisco, if you’re here illegally, you can vote in school board elections. And the same is true in some places in New England. And as we learned with the DACA and DREAMer program, you can live here indefinitely. And it even is a little bit more extreme than just equality with citizenship. Sometimes it’s mere discrimination.

A person in California who is charged with a crime, if the person is a resident rather than a citizen, is not subject to a federal immigration law to the full extent. If you or I come into the Detroit Airport from overseas and we do not have a passport, we’re going to be detained. If you are in Fresno county and 500 other sanctuary city jurisdictions and you commit a crime and you’re here illegally, you’re not going to be deported. It’s not going to happen. You’re given a privilege, as it is. If you’re in California and you are here illegally, you’re going to get a license, just like a citizen—but not quite just like a citizen, because a federal law says for you to travel, you have to have proof of citizenship to get a proper ID for the federal transportation authority. So that means that all the citizens in California have to turn in their driver’s licenses next year and reapply with a passport. In other words, they have an extra burden to pay because residents had an advantage of not having to have the same type of ID for their version of a driver’s license.

Fragmentation of Society: From Unity to Tribes

So in some sense, in many of our states, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a citizen or resident. And you can see where that’s leading. People who come from different countries and are here illegally, they have no investment to the same degree as we do in our constitutional documents. They don’t really want to know part of the national story. Where I live, candidates from south of the border fly into the Central Valley of California and campaign. And people vote for them. And they vote in the United States. You can see the problem of a fragmenting society, because what the theme is, that we’re of various different races and ethnic backgrounds. And this is not normal in history, and we have to make the extra effort. But we’re not making the extra effort. We’re doing just the opposite. But besides turning into a country of mere residents, we’re also becoming a country of tribes. And by that, I mean the idea of multiracialism, that we’re all of different races but we share a common culture is eroding. And now we’re becoming many cultures and many races.

At Stanford University, you can determine the racial background of your roommate before you enroll. The same is true at Claremont College. There are places on university campuses called “safe spaces” that are reserved for particular people and of a particular race. There are theme houses and dorms where people segregate according to their race.

Did anybody ask yourself why, for years, Elizabeth Warren and other politicians had railed against white privilege. If that were true, why would Elizabeth Warren choose to be a Native American? In other words, culturally appropriate another identity which, according to her own logic, would put her at a disadvantage, giving the ubiquity of white privilege. And the answer is that we have returned to the “one-drop” rule of the Old South– that one drop, 1/16, allows you to become in a minority. So the reason that she said she was a Cherokee person– remember, the Cherokee nation– is she wanted a careerist advantage over someone else who chose not to play that game. And Harvard was only happy to comply because the law school bragged that she was their first minority Native American faculty member. So what you can see is a retribalization of America at the expense of citizenship.

I went to a grammar school that was about 90% Mexican-American. And maybe it was culturally insensitive, maybe the melting pot got too hot, but we took people from all over Latin America and we made them into American citizens. And I’ve noticed– I’m 66– that when I see some people that I went to kindergarten and first grade, that they went from Juan to Johns, and they dropped the accent on their last name. Now in their 60s, they’re back to Juan again. And they’ve added accents and hyphenations to their names. And what would be the purpose of that? The purpose is they get a general impression from the society at large that there is an advantage not to identify just as a plain, old American– that you have to be a member of a particular tribe– the LGBT community, the Asian-American community, the black community. And you can see where this is going. 70% of the country self-identifies as white. And the last thing you would want would be 70% of the country to start identifying as white. It would be the worst thing in the world to happen. But that’s the logic of tribalism that leads to something like Rwanda or the former Yugoslavia or what we saw in Iraq. So we have to be careful of people blurring the line between a citizen and a resident, and an American and a tribal member.

The Decline of the Middle Class and Its Consequences

There’s another phenomenon that’s just as scary that’s going on in this theme of pre-citizenship. America was based on the viability of a middle class. If you read the essays of Jefferson, he said, when we pile up everybody into the cities and they’re no longer farm owners, then we’ll have two classes– wealthy and poor. If you read St. John de Crevecoeur or you read Alexis de Tocqueville, the theme is the same, that a solid, property-owning middle class has advantages over the poor because they’re invested in a particular place, they showed a sobriety of judgment to save their money, they’re stationary people, they’re sober and judicious, they do not look to government to the same degree as the poor. And unlike the wealthy, they don’t have the power or leverage to affect government, to act in the interests of a small clique.

So there was this romance. And it was easy to do because 90% of the country, as I said, were agrarians. We survived the Industrial Revolution– the middle class did, I should say– and it was transmogrified into the American ideal that everybody would own a home and they would have a job that would open a pathway to upward mobility and they’d have an avenue to go to college for self-improvement. And out of that matrix, they would be independent and autonomous people. And all of us in the middle class, then, could tell the poor, we’re not going to redistribute money. And we could also tell the very wealthy, and you’re not going to be a crony inside-capitalist.

What’s happened, though, we’ve psychologically deprecated the middle class. Our elites say that the middle class lacks the culture of the wealthy, with our snowmobiles and SUVs and jet skis and Winnebagos. And we don’t have the romance of the distant poor. And that reflects something that, in actual terms, the middle class is threatened. Homeownership peaked right before the collapse in 2008 at 71%. It’s down to about 62%. But unfortunately, that doesn’t tell the whole story. The percentage of a family budget that goes to housing has gone from about 14% in the 1950s to 44%. So people, to the degree that they can buy a house, are spending nearly half their income.

Wages, until two years ago, had been frozen for 10 years. The middle class didn’t really see an increase in their wages for ten years. It’s gone up 3% under Trump. But until then, it had not gone up. And when you talk about college and upward mobility– and this is a very apropos topic here at Hillsdale, because the purpose of this wonderful gala is to raise money to help defray the cost of tuition– but we have an aggregate $1.6 trillion in student debt.

I don’t think we’re getting much return from most colleges, if you look at the level of education that a recent graduate shows. But more importantly, there were certain attributes about the middle class that allowed citizens to be traditional and to be participants in the American story. And one was, of course, people got married quite early—in their 20s. The average age until 1952 was 22. Some of you got married at 21 or 22. Until just 2000, the average number of children was about 2.1. It’s now about 1.7. People are on average getting married at about 29 now.

I mentioned housing going down and middle class wages. And student debt, about 5% of students had student debt in the ’50s. And so think about what we’re doing. We’re telling young people, you’re really not going to be able to buy a house and you’re an indentured servant to your former college that you have this $200,000 debt. And they say, I can’t afford to get married. I’m not going to have children. I can’t go to the suburbs. I don’t want to live in a town like Hillsdale. I don’t want to live on a farm. I want to be a hipster in an urban environment. And that’s pretty much the ingredients of what you see on the news with Antifa. That’s the profile.

So the destruction of the middle class then turns you into a nation of peasants, as we see in California. One out of five—and we’re getting close to one out of four—lives below the poverty line. And yet, we have the largest number of zip codes of people who are in the most affluent counties in the country. We have the highest number of billionaires. But if you drive up to Stanford University on any given day, you’ll see people living in Winnebagos right out in front of campus—can’t afford to buy a home. And they’re working for Google or Facebook or Yahoo or Apple with a market capitalization of $4 trillion. I submit to you that that’s not a good way to create a stable American nationalist patriotic country, when you’re destroying the middle class.

Elite Disconnection and the Danger to Nationalism

So we don’t want to be mere residents or tribespeople or peasantry. But I’d like to suggest that, on the other end of the scale, on the elite side, there’s just as much danger to nationalism and citizenship. Our elite tend to believe on the coasts that they’re not citizens so much of the United States as citizens of the world. They like to be called “internationalists” or “globalists.” They do not want to be known as “nationalists.” They have more faith in the Paris Climate Accord or the Kyoto Agreements than they do their own government. They’re ashamed of the Second Amendment when they go to Europe. They feel that trans-Pacific trade is much better than negotiating individual trade deals. They love the World Bank. They love the International Monetary Fund. They think the UN Commission on Civil Rights or Human Rights has more authority than does the US House of Representatives.

And it’s an old idea—out of that, comes transnationalism. That, just as globalization took American free market capitalism and spread it around to 7 billion people and gave us instant communications—instant travel, almost. Anybody can get on a phone and call any of the other 7 billion people in the world almost quite easily. But what did not follow was the American constitutional government. Most people said, that is too strange. It’s too weird. We don’t want it. And by that, they meant they don’t like the Second Amendment—”they” being Western Europeans and most of the world. They have no problem with late-term abortion.

They feel the government should intervene and restructure the economy radically based on the theory of man-made global warming. And so there’s a lot of ideas out in the globalized world that are antithetical to America’s. And we have a lot of people in the country who, in the Progressive movement, feel that we have to move beyond Americanism and join the world, just as we have economically and culturally.

Challenges to the US Constitution and Democratic Principles

There’s a second thing that’s happening with post-citizenship. And that’s a formal assault on the US Constitution by the elite classes. And by that, I mean we’ve now had a second election in which, as the framers envisioned, from time to time, the candidate who won the popular vote might not win the electoral college. It happened with George W. Bush and Al Gore. And it happened with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Unfortunately, in both cases, Progressives lost. And given the Trump trajectory, people are very angry. And they think the answer to it is to change either the Constitution or the accepted custom and practice of the last 100 years.

We mentioned sanctuary cities. I would just say that nullification is a very common creed now in the United States. But it only goes one way. You can nullify federal immigration law. But believe me, if the people of Provo, Utah, decide that within their jurisdiction, they want to nullify federal handgun registration, they’re not going to be able to do it. If people in Bakersfield say the Endangered Species Act does not apply in Kern County, they’re not going to be able to do it. It’s a one-sided, asymmetrical view, sort of like South Carolina in 1832 and 1833, when they nullified federal law and said tariff policy doesn’t apply. It’s a road to perdition, as we know from 1861. And yet it’s getting more and more common that a particular jurisdiction can defy, and legally so, the US constitution.

People want to return to FDR’s half-baked plan of packing the court. I don’t know if they think they’re going to get away with it. FDR didn’t. But if you look at court decisions after the court-packing scheme of the late ’30s, you can make the argument that justices tend to be a little bit more progressive in fear that they might either have more justices or face mandatory retirement. So there is an effort, at least, to suggest we’re going to change the nature of the court. And even if we can’t, that’s a message to you conservative people to shape up or else. There’s an idea that, as you know, every single candidate that I know of, that I’ve heard– and I checked today– is in favor of abolishing the electoral college. People don’t understand what it was for. It was to give equal representation to people outside big cities and follow the Republican model of Rome and not the quite scary “51% get what they want in any given day” plan of ancient Athens. And yet, that’s very common. In preparation for this talk, I did a lot of research. I didn’t realize how common it is, the progressive anger at the US Senate. And a common refrain is, the people of Wyoming have two senators– each represents 245,000 people.

We in California have two senators– each represents 20 million people. That’s not fair. Let’s make senators proportioned on the population as House members. And I think we’ll see some of that. In short, there’s a formal assault on the Constitution because it hasn’t given the expected results. And because the aims of the Left are so exalted and noble, they feel that any means necessary are justified.

The Influence of Cultural and Social Pressure on Constitutional Rights

And finally, there’s an informal effort to create something like a post-citizen that doesn’t have to abide by the Constitution. Have you noticed we still have a Second Amendment? But what does it mean if you’re in a rural part of the United States and you go to Walmart and they can’t sell you ammunition? In other words, social justice warriors, the canceled culture, social media, Hollywood, the foundations, the universities– all of them can put such pressure on people that they can’t fully exercise their constitutional rights, even though their rights de jure are still in existence.

If you’re a cake maker and you don’t want a particular theme of sexual orientation, you can be coerced. If you’re Carter Page and you’re innocent, but you represent an unattractive candidate or campaign, you can be leveraged by a prosecutor. Or if you’re Michael Flynn, you can plead guilty. 90% of all federal prosecutors win their cases– all cases that federal prosecutors do. So we have to be very careful that we’re not creating a situation, while we still have these personal freedoms protected by the Constitution, we can’t exercise them.

I know as a professor and fellow at Stanford, I speak to a lot of students. And I will guarantee you that if you were students now at Stanford, I would not say the following because I wouldn’t get to the end of the speech. If I said, I’m very skeptical about abortion, but I especially do not like the idea of 8,000 instances of infanticide. We’ve got to stop it. Half would walk out at that. The other half would come to the podium. And who didn’t come to the podium when I said, I do believe in climate change, but I either don’t believe that we’re responsible for it, or if we were responsible it justifies the radical transformations in the economy that people are calling for. I don’t think I could finish that either.

And if I said I live in a farmhouse where I inherited 12 different guns. I’m very proud of them. I don’t think that would go over. In other words, there’s freedom of speech. But if you were to try to say that, you wouldn’t be able to. But if you don’t believe me, if you all put on red MAGA hats and walk into Detroit, see what happens to you.

And so there are cases where we have these constitutional freedoms. But a minority of the population that has so much more influence and resources is able to create a culture of shame where we don’t dare exercise them. And then de facto, it’s almost the same result as the people formally and legally trying to invalidate the Constitution. Or if people don’t want to go out and vote in California because they’re afraid to go to the polls, it has the same effect as a federal judge overturning a plebiscite that happened in two cases with gay marriage.

The Role of Education and Ideology in Shaping Society

Let me just finish by saying, what causes this? You talk to people overseas in Asia or Africa, and they call it the “Western disease.” And what they’re referring to is a clearly defined mentality in the ancient world. You can read it in Plato and Aristotle. You can see it especially in Roman nihilistic literature– Tacitus, Patroneas, — that suggests that too much affluence, too much leisure creates a laxity, a “luxus,” as the Romans called it, where if you don’t have an existential threat, then perhaps you have the margin of error to indulge in ideas that are detrimental to yourself, even suicidal notions. Note that a country like Israel is Western to the core. But it’s not as advanced because it knows if it were to experiment with either pre-modern citizenship or post-modern citizenship, its borders would be overrun. It would cease to exist because it lives in a sea of enemies, unlike us and most of Western Europe.

That’s part of it. But I would just end by suggesting that a lot of it is our educational system. Because the people who are crafting our laws, the judges who are overturning plebiscites, the lawyers who are advancing these legal theories, the professors who are teaching our children, all come from an asymmetrical system. And by that, I mean they feel that they have reached a point of wisdom and affluence and leisure and comfort, and that it’s permissible or, indeed, it’s desirable or necessary to explain to people how unhappy, how miserable they are, and that they must change the system. And the more that they change the system, you can see what’s happening– whether it’s homeless people in San Francisco juxtaposed to people in Nob Hill or Pacific Heights right next to them as they walk across. There’s an asymmetry, that we in the university live one life, tenured, affluent, and leisure. And we tell indebted students you have to do this with no ramifications of the ideology affecting ourselves.

And so I think that we could leave by thinking there’s nothing better that we all could do than to support colleges that protect the Constitution, they advocate for the middle class, they make a distinction between residents and citizens, and they’re not just skeptical, but they’re adamantly opposed to anybody who wants to change the US Constitution– the last great hope for mankind and the only thing that saves not just the United States, but the world at large. Thank you very much.

I don’t know if we have questions.

Q&A Session: Addressing Various Topics

SPEAKER 2: Thank you, Dr. Hanson. We now have time for a few questions. If you have a question, please come up to one of the microphones.

AUDIENCE: I have a question.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: I hope I didn’t scare you with that.

SPEAKER 2: If you have a question, please come up to a microphone. OK.

AUDIENCE: First of all, thank you very much. You were amazing. We enjoy you both in your articles and on television. What is your feeling about the last 10 days about this so-called whistleblower issue?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: So-called what?

AUDIENCE: Whistleblower issue.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Whistleblower issue.

Well, my wife called me. She said, what are you going to say? And she said, you’re not going to speak on that, are you? And then she sighed and said, of course, you will be stupid enough to talk. Well, very quickly, this latest psychodrama, it’s a series, isn’t it? The Emoluments Act, the 25th Amendment, Stormy, the voting machines, Mueller. So it’s part of a series to overturn not just the 2016 election date, but preclude the 2020. And it’s in a vein of which I just talked about.

It’s an effort to change the Constitution, as it were. But I think what Nancy Pelosi has done by going forward, before she even had read the transcript of the call or the whistleblower complaint, was tactically very smart. Because Trump has already gone down 2 points. Everybody forgot the UN speech he gave. Very good speech. And then, strategically, very stupid, because it accomplished all at once four or five things that she, I don’t think, anticipated.

Number one, it took out, for all practical purposes, the leading candidate, Joe Biden. And you cannot mention Ukraine– you can rail about Trump on Ukraine, but at some point, you have to mention Joe Biden, even to say, well, it doesn’t apply to Joe Biden. That in itself is– so I think that he’s taken out. And he had the best chance of defeating Donald Trump.

Second, the whistleblower and the people who put the whistleblower up– and I say that because I read very carefully the whistleblower’s complaint– it’s not written by a normal whistleblower. It’s a legal document. And two, you cannot impeach the president of the United States based on a whistleblower’s complaint with nine times he or she says, I was told, or I heard. It’s all hearsay. I know the Inspector General said there was some firsthand knowledge. I read it four times. I couldn’t find any firsthand knowledge.

And third, you can’t impeach the president on anonymous sources. They don’t identify those so-called staffers who heard this call. And, of course, even if they did hear the call, the President of the United States can bluster, cajole, barter, horse– That’s what they do. Can you imagine the phone call about Barack Obama and the nocturnal transfer of $400 billion to Iran? I don’t want to hear about it. But it’s his right to do that.

And so what I’m getting at is, we’re going to learn who the whistleblower is. And people are going to ask the whistleblower, have you ever met Adam Schiff? And did you ever have a lawyer? Did you know that the whistleblower statute was changed to allow hearsay shortly before you filed this? Have you communicated with anybody in the DNC? Those are going to be questioned under penalty of perjury.

And then, finally, I think Nancy Pelosi thought that the news cycle is predictable. You go into impeachment. It makes sense. Trump might win the election. Stop it now. But it’s not. It’s volatile. And by that, I mean there’s too many known unknowns. There’s Michael Horowitz with maybe a criminal indictment of Andrew McCabe. There’s Michael Horowitz, maybe you with a criminal indictment about the abuse of the FISA court. There’s John Huebner, who’s going all over the world trying to find who interfered against Trump, not for Trump. And then you have John Durham, who’s doing the same thing. So you have three prosecutors who are looking at things that we’ve never looked at. Who knows what the news will be like? We’ve only had 3 of the– was it 12? We have 9 more of these debates. I mean, every time there’s a debate, Trump goes up by 2 points.

And so what I’m getting at is that going after and trying to impeach a president on anonymous sources and hearsay while you have three prosecutors lose and you have debates going on with the New Green Deal advocacy and reparation, it’s not a good formula, I think. And I think the result will be, after about three weeks, she’ll start to see that. And then it’ll be an impeachment inquiry and not a true impeachment. If they were to vote on it– and I think Republicans very much want them to vote– 30 or 40 House Representatives were going to lose their seats. Because where we are in California, my district, our Republican candidate lost by 600 votes. He won the election by 6,000. And then by Christmas, he lost by 600. He’s running again. And according to the McClatchy poll, he’s 12 points ahead. And he’s really hammering this against the Democratic incumbent. Thank you very much, the question.

AUDIENCE: Dr. Hanson, it’s a privilege to see you. I left Los Banos, California, about six years ago. And when I left a city of 35,000, the Ford dealership– because I had a Mustang– was down to four mechanics. And they all left at noon. You said in your book, Mexifornia, that you wrote, I believe, in 2003, you said, “This state cannot figure out whether it has become a promised land based on cheap immigrant labor or a looming nightmare of unassimilated Third Worldism.” Now the reason I think that’s so critical, I’d like to have more comments on that from you is because, as you say in your book, what’s happening there is coming to the rest of us.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: That was a funny book because the person who asked me to write the article from which the book came 20 years ago said, can you write how wonderful illegal immigration is? And I said, I can write about it. But it won’t be wonderful. So I think what we saw in California in 2002 and 2003, when I wrote that, is happening all over the country. And what changed– and by that, I mean, I guess in our business, we all have this bloodsport where we go back and look at YouTube comments. Have you seen John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton blasting illegal immigration? You should do it. There’s a great one with Barack Obama. He says, I’m not a king. I can’t give amnesty. 22 times he said that. So what changed? What changed is that people said that in the Democratic Party when there were 2, 4, and 6 million. But when you have 20 million and you have a second generation already that’s at the voting age of another 10 or 15 million of US citizens, then that’s a powerful constituency. And they look at California, and they say, wow, this was 32 years of Reagan, Pete Wilson, Deukmejian, Schwarzenegger– never going to happen again. Supermajority in both legislatures. We went down from 53 congressional seats to seven Republicans. So they look at Nevada, flipped. New Mexico’s flipped blue. Texas and Arizona and Colorado are next. And that’s a demographic shift. So the Democratic Party is for open borders because they find a lot of advantage.

The only thing that’s going to save us is what we talked about– citizenship, that we appeal to people who are coming hopefully legally, hopefully with skills, hopefully through a meritocratic process, hopefully in a diverse manner so they’re from all over the world. And we say to them, you left your country. You don’t like Oaxaca. You may think you like Oaxaca. You may put a Mexican flag on your car. But you’re here. So that tells me you did not like it there. So we’re here to help you. We’re here to integrate you and assimilate you and intermarry you and become one of us. And if Trump can make that argument– and he can also make the economic argument. He could say, I’ve got the lowest unemployment in the history of the Mexican-American workforce. It’s true. And for someone who lives in that area, it’s just absolutely astounding to hear people come up to you and say, I was on the roof. They’re paying me $19 an hour. For the first time in my life, Victor, a guy came over and got out of his car and said, I’ll pay you $23 if you get off that roof and go on my road. And he said, they want me now. And so what we forgot in the Republican Party, is that the essence of dignity is a job. And when you get the unemployment rate down to 3.7% and you have employers begging for workers, that worker calculates that and thinks, I have dignity now. I have leverage. I have some gratitude to the person who did that.

So wouldn’t that be ironic, that through economics and a new approach to Mexican-American voters, one based on citizenship and “become one of us,” the Democratic Party would lose what they need to win. And because they’ve so alienated the working classes, especially the white working class, they cannot afford to lose 40% of the Hispanic vote, or even 15% of the black vote. And yet, I think there’s a good chance they’ll do both.

AUDIENCE: Question. Since your book, Carnage and Culture, and what’s happened today, if you were to go back or to look at what you wrote then and what is happening now, what are the underpinnings, in your opinion, being a student of culture that gives us a foundation or perhaps a way or a path back to culture that will remain as strong as our Constitution intended?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Well, when you say the West, Western culture, really we have to be specific. We’re talking about North America– Canada, and the United States. And we’re talking about Britain and its former empire in most parts– Australia, Canada, New Zealand. And we’re talking about continental Europe. And then we’re now talking about westernized states, such as South Korea or Taiwan or Japan that have more or less accepted the paradigm. And out of 7 billion people, there’s about 2 billion that are on that page. And so that’s helpful. But what is worrying to me is that globalization and westernization has swept the globe. So if I go to the Ukraine or I go to Bolivia, people have jeans, they have a cell phone, they’re on Facebook, they seem like they’re almost quasi-Americans.

That diffusion has really weakened the West. And by that, I mean people think the West is that X-Men movie I saw. Or the West is that cell phone, as I said. Or it’s that particular rap song. It’s not. It’s a menu of constitutional government, free speech, due process, the protection of private property, the right to bear arms. I think I don’t want to be too fanatical or too paranoid. But I think that menu is almost gone in Europe, as I see it today.

And you can see what’s happening in Brexit today when people had a plebiscite. We do not want to be part of this continental system. It’s different than in Britain. It’s not the Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-American tradition, the transatlantic. It’s different. We don’t want it anymore. It’s anti-democratic. It’s against the traditions of Britain. And they can’t get out, because their own elites have joined the continental system.

So what I’m most worried about when I write about Carnage And Culture, is that I use that word the “West.” And I know that there’s been bifurcations during world wars. But what’s really scary is that we’re going to an Orwellian sameness in the West. And the United States is not completely against it. Half of the United States agrees with the trajectory that Europe is in. And they like the European Union. And they like the idea that somebody in Brussels can tell a Greek that that’s not a banana because it’s not 6 inches long, or you can’t go to your beach because one of our inspectors saw plastic bottles, so we shut it down. They liked that control, because they feel that a special educated, affluent class, mostly on the coast of the United States and Europe in the big cities, knows far better than the average person what’s good for them. And to the degree that they’re wrong, they have a parachute by their own influence and wealth. But their bromides will never apply to them, themselves.

And that’s what’s really scary because the United States was built on this middle class “match word with deed.” And my mother was the first female superior court judge in Fresno County, and the second female appellate court judge. And I had a grandfather that mortgaged his ranch with very little money– little, tiny farm– and put all his children to college, and two, in the 1940s, for graduate and undergraduate at Stanford. And I remember her going to the farmer’s market when she was an appellate court judge, peddling pears and plums with us on Saturdays, out there without an apron on. And I’d say, well, wow, Judge Hanson’s out here– making fun of my mother. And she said, it’s very, very important to remember that in America, the elite get their hands dirty. And I’m elite only in titles. I’m not part of that. And that was very important that we realize that physical work has dignity and that people who work with their hands and are in the middle class are the bulwark of this country. They have a common sense that is invaluable to this country. We almost forgot that until 2016.

And I’m not going to get political. But when Trump, for the first time, said our workers, our vets, our– I like the word “our.” I mean, he was ridiculous. He went to West Virginia. And Hillary had said, we’re going to shut you all down. You’re going to have to make solar panels, essentially. And he said, I love big, beautiful coal. What I’m getting at is that I don’t see that. I see a Marxist paradigm between workers and then capitalists in Europe. But what I see in America was always a reverence for the working class, just right from Jefferson from the beginning of the Constitution. And we’ve really got to get back to the idea that none of us are above the idea of physical work. When you have somebody build your roof or mow your lawn, that’s just as important as what we’re doing up here in this stage. And we really have to get that dignity and respect back for muscular labor. In this outsourcing, offshoring, globalist economy, we forgot that. And I think we’ve been saved at the last moment. Thank you.

AUDIENCE: Should we invite 1,000 Venezuelans to live in each one of our congressional districts to remind us of the alternative? SPEAKER 3: Should we invite Venezuelans to live in our congressional districts to remind us about socialism?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Did you hear the question? I think we don’t need them. We have enough professors. I don’t know how we are on time.

AUDIENCE: I very much enjoyed your speech or whatever– presentation. You mentioned the idea of maybe the senators having the same representation as representatives. Now, about six to eight months ago, there was a writer– and I think it was the Wall Street Journal– that predicted that the Democrats would have a difficult time in the future ever getting the Senate back. And I don’t remember the logic. And I was wondering if you would read that article or know why he made that assertion.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: I mean, we don’t want to be philosophers, but there is a mentality behind all this if you think about it. So the Democrats, when they’re in the majority, they don’t want filibusters. Filibusters are archaic and disruptive. When they’re in the minority, they want to bring them back. Believe me. If Donald Trump wins a popular vote and Elizabeth Warren wins the electoral college, the electoral college will be the greatest thing since sliced bread. And the same thing with senators. If tomorrow we have 100 Democratic senators, and they’re going to say, this is the best system the Founders ever came up on. So what I’m getting at is that I don’t really take the Left at its word. I don’t think they have a consistent philosophy, other than we believe in equality of result. We’re morally superior because we have greater empathy. And therefore, because we’re morally superior creatures to you, any means necessary, any inconsistencies is allowable because our aims are so much greater than your greedy, individualist, profit-mongering, selfishness. And that’s how they operate. And therefore, when we look at this impeachment circus– and I’m talking about people in my own family– when you talk to them, the details don’t matter. What all that matters is these are people who are out to help people.

And they’re trying to oppose people who are selfish. And therefore, anything that goes on is justified. And that’s been the story of Progressivism and Leftism since antiquity.

SPEAKER 2: We have time for one more question.

AUDIENCE: Thank you very much. You’ve been a historian and studied history over the millennia– not your millennia, but the world’s millennia. Is there any other comparable time in other civilizations that went through what we’re going through now, and their outcome? And how would you foresee the United States in 10 years compared to how other civilizations have worked out these problems?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Well, I think the greatest treatise that’s ever been written on politics is Aristotle’s Politics, because he transcends the particular case studies that he educes. And what he just assumes is, there’s always going to be a class struggle or political struggle between different groups. And if I could reduce that to a banality, there’s some people who believe in equality of opportunity and some believe in a state-mandated equality of result. The people who believe in the equality of opportunity say this. Unfortunately, we weren’t all born equally.

Some of us have more talent. Some of us have better health. Some of us have better luck. Some of us had a rich grandfather. Life is unfair. But let us go and do our thing. And then we will have social pressures, like you people, here, to give back. Let me go make a lot of money. And then let me choose to help support Hillsdale. I will do that. I’m not a greedy person. There’s only so hot t