In Victor Davis Hanson’s new book, The Case for Trump, VDH focuses not on President Trump himself or on Trump’s policies, but rather on the staggering fissure dividing “the two Americas.” One America is loaded with towns like Selma, CA, outside of Fresno, where Mr. Hanson, a fifth generation raisin farmer, was born and raised, writes Michael Doran in his excellent review of Hanson’s book
Towns Across America Ravaged by Globalism and the Bicoastal Elite
“Their once prosperous and stable community did not really deserve to erode,” Hanson writes of his fellow townsmen. “They were and are certainly not lazy or stupid people, and they had sought all sorts of remedies to redress their plights and save their town.” These people are not in a position to write book-length analyses about why they came to embrace an orange-hued, uncouth Manhattan billionaire as their defender. But Hanson is. The unstated goal of The Case for Trump is to give a voice to these voiceless people.
From Unlocked Doors to Six Guard Dogs
Hanson writes, Selma “was a prosperous multiethnic and multiracial community of working- and middle-class families.” From his graduating class of 250, only about ten went off to college; the rest stayed behind, thanks to an abundance of high-paying jobs on farms and in canneries. Within a few short years, those jobs were gone. Canneries and food processors had moved abroad, and farms had been sold off or rented to large corporations. Despite the shrinking job market, Mexican immigrants — legal and illegal — flooded in. “By 2010, high unemployment was chronic, drug addiction was endemic, crime commonplace,” Hanson writes. “In 1970, we did not have keys for our outside doors; in 2018, I have six guard dogs.”
Both Parties to Blame
Both political parties played a role in this tragedy. In recent years, however, the Democrats have grown especially contemptuous of those whose lives were mauled by globalism. The Democrats of yesteryear saw themselves as representatives of the laboring classes, but their descendants are dedicated to achieving “social justice,” a phrase with a highly specific meaning.
According to contemporary progressivism, power and privilege in society flow from fundamental identities. Social-justice warriors deem people “marginalized” or “privileged” according to their skin color, religion, or sexual orientation. The uneducated immigrants who flooded Selma are marginalized and therefore deserving of empathy and a helping hand.
Bitter, Deplorable, Garbage People
The longtime residents who lost their livelihood and decry immigration are privileged and therefore targets of contempt. They are the “bitter” ones who “cling” to guns or religion, as Barack Obama said of the people of central Pennsylvania in 2008; a “basket of deplorables,” as Hillary Clinton famously called Trump supporters; or toothless “garbage people,” as Politico reporter Marc Caputo described attendees at a Trump rally last year.
Trump’s Promise to Fight Progressivism
To those ravaged by globalism, Trump was the only candidate in 2016 who spoke clearly and directly about the issues that most concerned them — a return of jobs and an end to unlawful immigration. Moreover, he promised to truly fight against progressivism. Many conservative voters had tired of the establishment Republican candidates, who seemed more content to lose honorably than to fight to win. Voters no longer trusted the Republican party to stand for the rights of the little guy against the demands of big business or lecturing from the media. They “empathized with the bad-apple Trump,” Hanson explains. They “believed that whatever he dished out to the media . . . was long overdue.”
To a great many of Trump’s detractors, his character disqualifies him from office. But many of these detractors, including some Never Trumpers on the right, are comfortable with progressivism, whereas a good many Trump supporters see it as a cancer. For them, Hanson explains, Trump is “chemotherapy, which after all is used to combat something far worse than itself.” They also get a vicarious thrill from his brawling, seeing it, Hanson writes, “as a long overdue pushback to the elite disdain and indeed hatred shown them.”
Hanson Applauds Trump’s Remarkable Successes
- the vibrant economy
- record employment
- two Supreme Court appointments
- a slew of federal judicial appointments
- the recalibration in trade relations with China
- the moving of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
- the restoring of American deterrence against Russia and China
To read more from Mr. Dolan on The Case for Trump, click here.