Victor Davis Hanson

Anatomies of Electoral Madness

by Victor Davis Hanson

PJ Media

“Gonna be some hard times coming down.”
—Kris Kristofferson, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid

One way of making sense out of nonsense in this new age is simply to believe the opposite of what you read. I have been doing that and it often works.

Latinos — Please Vote for Us…

Take the sudden Latino vote obsession. I don’t think not supporting the Dream Act, as we are told, factored in much at all in the Republican defeat — or at least no more than losing by the same margin the Asian vote, or (by a slightly smaller margin) the youth vote, or (by a much bigger margin) the black vote.

These groups, to the extent they exist as definable and predictable cohorts in the age of assimilation, integration, and intermarriage, mostly were Axelrodded. By that I mean that after six months of a vicious campaign — spiced up by a Sandra Fluke (on death’s doorstep due to lack of free condoms) or a Joseph (“all white folks are going to hell”) Lowery — and after four years of quotes like “fat-cat bankers on Wall Street, “you didn’t build that,” “fair share,” “nation of cowards,” “my people,” and “our enemies,” these groups more or less resented the older, and supposedly whiter, male establishment. In that sense, a decent fellow like Mitt Romney was reduced to a cutthroat, outsourcing, racist, tax-cheating, felon-committing epitome. (Our goddess Nemesis noticed — so beware, Mr. Axelrod and Mr. Obama, she is an all-powerful, take-no-prisoners deity with a long memory.)

Since the election, I have talked to all sorts of non-white and young people; most, after such a barrage, voiced a sort of Obama-fed feeling of “things are going our way and this is our future.” That such chauvinism is racialist and just as bad as the old white/alright racism matters nothing. But until these groups are jumbled up — following the path of Italians who, after immigration from Sicily and Italy ceased, fragmented culturally and politically due to economic success — we are in for some strange times.

In my area, voters were just as mad that Romney wanted legal immigration for those with skills, education, and capital. You see, that too sounded “racist,” or at least threatening to the system that has been letting about ½ million to 1 million annually in illegally from Latin America, the vast majority without a high school diploma.

Numbers are what the immigration issue is about, after all. When I go to the bank and someone speaks an indigenous Oaxaca dialect and cannot read the information on the check (and on rare occasions endorses with a mark), I am apparently seen as a racist to think that the country might benefit from one Croatian immigrant, with a PhD in electrical engineering, allowed legal entry for every three who can’t speak English (or sometimes Spanish) and crossed into the country illegally.

As far as the grand bargain, the Dream Act, comprehensive immigration reform, or whatever the rubric of the day that a clueless Republican establishment employs: just imagine the opposite to learn the truth. If the Republicans were to agree to amnesty for, say, two million who were brought here as children and are in school or in the military, do you really think the “Latino community” in response would celebrate and then also agree to deport those who did not qualify? Or do you imagine the deal would at least result in deportation for those entirely on public assistance or with a criminal record? Did the Reagan-era Simpson-Mazzoli Act amnesty lead to 1) an end to calls for amnesty, 2) closing the border, 3) a surge in Latino support for Republicans, or 4) none of the above?

Does a conservative message of lower taxes, less government, and fewer regulations really appeal to Latinos en masse, who define La Familia values as something that includes a big and paternalistic government, along the Spanish/European model? Out here I see no difference in rates of abortion, divorce, criminality, or illegitimacy between whites and Latinos, and suspect the latter may have higher rates. So family values are defined somewhat differently from the Republican silk-stocking view that Latinos are natural Republicans — if only (fill in the blanks). Again, I would like the Democrats to introduce the Dream Act, and then watch whether closed borders, E-Verify, and deportation of criminals were part of the deal. That is not to say one should not talk in softer tones and be magnanimous; but one is fooling oneself if one believes a cheap Dream Act endorsement would mean anything.

The truth is that the present system of illegal immigration is quite logical and thrives because too many are invested in it, well aside from corporate employers. California is a permanently blue state. Latino leaders, many of whom can no longer speak Spanish, represent a vast underclass of illegal aliens whose numbers warp all statistics on Latino achievement and become a permanent argument for set-asides, more government help, higher taxes (cf. who just voted for California’s higher taxes?), affirmative action, and changing demography. Why simply give that up, and join a party of the melting-pot, up-by-the bootstraps, self-reliant, shrink-the-government types? To go to Parlier or Orange Cove is to drive through a maze of federal/state clinics and government facilities, many eponymously named by those who secured the government funding for them. No, I am sorry: I don’t see a natural Hispanic constituency for what Mitt Romney was trying to offer. I also confess that stupid ads like Lena Dunham’s sex-equals-voting-for-Obama ad and stupider ones like the African-American garbage collector who said Romney never talked to him at the curb worked.

The Rich

I sense the same misinformation about the “wealthy” and the “job creators:” Just think the opposite and the truth emerges. Most in the top brackets voted for Obama; eight out of the ten wealthiest counties did at least. Many of the people I know in Silicon Valley, who this year passed on the signs and bumper stickers, nonetheless voted for Obama. The fact is that the Democratic Party, to generalize, is largely now the subsidized lower classes who pay no federal income tax and receive a growing array of federal largess coupled with, on the other end, a technocratic blue-state elite making over $200,000 annually. If taxes go up under Obama, at least theirs will, too. Another truth: the Republican Party is basically made up of a shrinking middle class and upper middle class, flanked on both ends by Democrats who, for various reasons, on one end, either do not appreciate their success or, on the other, hate them for their hoity-toity, un-PC tastes and culture. Yet how strange that the two ends of the Democratic coalition have so little to do with each other — a partnership based on cynical opportunism on both sides. All that is missing are the Roman tribunes, or perhaps the wealthy demagogi.

What Lost the Election?

Marco Rubio would not have won the Latino vote this year. A ticket of Condoleezza Rice and Herman Cain would not have won the black vote. Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley would not have won the Asian vote. Obama, in brilliant fashion, marketed himself as the above-the-fray great healer and our post-racial future, while his surrogates waged the most vicious race-, class-, gender-divisive campaign in history. More likely, what lost the race for Romney — a decent and strong candidate — was instead the failure of the white working classes to turn out to vote en masse.

Why so? I was in Michigan, near the Ohio border, for all of September, and each night was stunned by the variations in the class warfare ads, mostly brilliant and effective in painting Romney as your kill-Detroit, wet-suited, jet-ski-setting, multi-home employer — a veritable John Kerry, John Edwards, or Ted Kennedy — and “us” as a disabled, homeless, starving, and out-of-work collective victim as a result. Millions, who did not prefer Obama, just stayed home and thought that they would pass on voting for the guy who had too much money and gave them their pink slips. In 2004 they saw Kerry as the wet-suited wind surfer; in 2012 it was Romney[1].

News That Was No News

I also assume that what we do not read in the proverbial mainstream media is the news and what we do is not[2]. So there was not much about record gas prices [3], the Katrina-like plight of the Sandy victims [4] still without power, the rising unemployment rate, or the impending “fiscal cliff.” Here are some other non-news items.

Iran and the Drones

Now we learn that before the election Iran attacked a US spy drone in international waters. Why was this not known before the election? (Yes — that was rhetorical question.) And what actually was the result of that other drone crash, whose site we chose not to bomb/destroy, and thus the plane was perhaps sent to be reverse-engineered by the Russians or Chinese? And just how many have we killed with drones? Are the targets confirmed terrorists who brag of their crimes of the sort like the three who were water-boarded — or merely suspected terrorists who go up in smoke along with anyone unlucky enough to be near them when the judge/jury/executioner drone missile hits? Do the Left’s civil libertarians care about this, or care about it to the degree to note also that the administration had jailed the video-producer whose free expression supposedly caused the riots in Benghazi? Speaking of which…


We have a history of presidential second terms that explode in a scandal lingering from the first (e.g., Watergate) or due to hubris (cf. Reagan’s with Iran-Contra, or Clinton’s with Monica) deteriorating into scandal or just fizzling out (Bush and Katrina/the Iraqi insurgency). I used to think that the Libyan crime (not beefing up security when earlier requested, not immediately sending over help from the annex, not sending in relief during the various seven hours of assaults, etc.) was dwarfed by the cover-up (by all means protect the administration narrative of Libya as success/al Qaeda as impotent/Arab Spring as wonderful/the slayer of bin Laden as cool and competent commander-in-chief).

Now I am not so sure. Why did we even have a consulate in a secondary port city, when most countries had pulled their embassies out of Tripoli? Why, on the night of his death, was our ambassador meeting with a Turkish diplomat in Benghazi? Who delayed our team at the airport — and why? Why was an annex, with a large CIA contingent, even nearby? Why did the annex people apparently want to keep a firewall between themselves and the consulate? Who actually were the terrorists? Who paid them and what exactly was their mission? Were we destroying the Gaddafi arsenal, or rounding it up for anonymous resale? And if so — to whom?

The Rev. Joseph Lowery

Did Pastor Lowery, who swore Obama into office (Rev. Wright had apparently given up his Obama privileges), really say [5] right before the election that “all white folks” were “going to Hell” and “I don’t know what kind of a n****r wouldn’t vote with a black man running”? Did that matter? And is it the sort of language that an Eric Holder finds offensive, or at least as offensive as an anti-Muslim video? Rev. Wright, Rev. Pfleger, Rev. Jackson (who just said that the Tea Party wished to “overthrow our government, engage in secession, sedition, segregation and slavery.”), Rev. Lowery — all raise the same question: does Obama know any pastor who can speak without offering racist commentary?

The crux for the next four years is whether we become California [6] or transform into a sort of socialist Germany [7], where the work ethic, fiscal sobriety, and ingenuity trump counter-productive energy and social policies. In other words, will the frackers, horizontal drillers, farmers, engineers, Silicon Valley, Napa Valley, the American farm belt, the coal industry, Boeing, Apple, and Caterpillar just keep chugging along, pulling the rest of us into the accustomed prosperity despite, rather than because of, us? Will the American spirit, like German industriousness, override socialist redistribution, or succumb to it?

As far as why a majority voted as it did, I prefer the wisdom of the Old Oligarch, Plato on Democratic Man, or Tocqueville to the latest spin from Republican grandees.

Also read: What Obama Should Have Done Before, and Won’t Do Now [8]

URLs in this post:

[1] in 2012 it was Romney:
[2] what we do is not:
[3] record gas prices:
[4] the Sandy victims:
[5] really say:
[6] we become California:
[7] a sort of socialist Germany:
[8] What Obama Should Have Done Before, and Won’t Do Now:

©2012 Victor Davis Hanson

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About victorhanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

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