By Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness
There are 10 new ideas that are changing America, maybe permanently.
1) Money is a construct. It can be created from thin air. Annual deficits and aggregate national debt no longer matter much.
Prior presidents ran up huge annual deficits. But at least there were some concessions that the money was real and had to be paid back.
Not now. As we near $30 trillion in national debt and 110 percent of annual GDP, our elites either believe permanent zero interest rates make the cascading obligation irrelevant, or the larger the debt, the more likely we will be forced to address needed income redistribution.
2) Laws are not necessarily binding anymore. Joe Biden took an oath to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” But he has willfully rendered federal immigration laws null and void. Some rioters are prosecuted for violating federal laws, others not so much. Arrests, prosecutions, and trials are all fluid. Ideology governs when a law is still considered a law.
Crime rates do not necessarily matter. If someone is carjacked, assaulted, or shot, it can be understood to be as much his fault as the perpetrator’s. Either the victim was too lax, uncaring, and insensitive, or he provoked his attacker. How useful the crime is to the larger agendas of the Left determines whether a victim is really a victim, and the victimizer really a victimizer.
3) Racialism is now acceptable. We are defined first by our particular ethnic or religious tribe, only secondarily—if at all—by an American commonality. Unapologetic and explicit exclusion of whites from dorms, graduations, safe spaces, welfare, and federal aid programs is now noncontroversial. It is unspoken payback for perceived past sins, or a type of “good” racism. Falsely being called a racist makes one more guilty than falsely calling someone else a racist.
4) The immigrant is mostly preferable to the citizen. The newcomer, unlike the host, is not stained by the sins of America’s founding and history. Most citizens currently must follow quarantine rules, social distancing, stay out of school, and obey all the laws.
Yet those entering the United States en masse and illegally need not follow such apparently superfluous COVID-19 rules. Their children should be immediately schooled without worry of quarantine. Immigrants need not worry about their illegal entry or residence in America. Our elites believe illegal entrants more resemble the “founders” than do legal citizens, about half of whom they consider irredeemable.
5) Most Americans should be treated as we would treat little children. They cannot be asked to provide an ID to vote. “Noble lies” by our elites about COVID-19 rules are necessary to protect “Neanderthals” from themselves.
Americans deserve relief from the stress of grades, standardized testing, and normative rules of school behavior. They still are clueless about why it is good for them to pay far more for their gasoline, heating, and air conditioning.
6) Hypocrisy is passé. Virtue-signaling is alive. Climate change activists fly on private jets. Social justice warriors live in gated communities. Multibillionaire elitists pose as victims of sexism, racism, and homophobia. The elite need these exemptions to help the helpless. It is what you say to lesser others about how to live, not how you yourself live, that matters.
7) Ignoring or perpetuating homelessness is preferable to ending it. It is more humane for both the homeless and the public that thousands live, eat, defecate, and use drugs on public streets and sidewalks than it is to green-light affordable housing, mandate hospitalization for the mentally ill, and create sufficient public shelter areas.
8) McCarthyism is good. Destroying lives and careers for incorrect thoughts saves more lives and careers. Cancel culture and the Twitter Reign of Terror provide needed deterrence.
Now that Americans know they are one wrong word, act, or look away from losing their jobs or livelihoods, they are more careful and will behave in a more enlightened fashion. The social media guillotine is the humane, scientific tool of the woke.
9) Ignorance is preferable to knowledge. Neither statue-toppling, name-changing, nor the “1619 Project” require any evidence or historical knowledge. Heroes of the past were simple constructs. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees reflect credentials, not knowledge. The brand, not what created it, is all that matters.
10) Wokeness is the new religion, growing faster and larger than Christianity itself. Its priesthood outnumbers the clergy, and exercises far more power. Silicon Valley is the new Vatican, and Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Twitter the new Gospels.
Americans privately fear these rules, while publicly appearing to accept them.
They still could be transitory and invite a reaction. Or they are already near-permanent and institutionalized.
The answer determines whether a constitutional republic continues as once envisioned, or warps into something never imagined by those who created it.
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 and The Case for Trump.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.