Historian-author-pundit Victor Davis Hanson, author of The Case for Trump, opened the Freedom Center’s annual West Coast Retreat at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes (April 5-7, 2019) with a wide-ranging and stirring keynote address.
Check out the video and transcript below to gain several important insights that you probably haven’t heard or thought of.
Thank you very much. I was listening to The Judge last night, Jeanine, and it is strange times. I was on a flight the other day coming back from a speech, and a guy tapped me, and he said, “Did you write this book?” and he pulled it from under the seat. And I said, “Yeah.” And he said, “Could you sign it?” And then he came over and he went like this, and then he put it back under the seat. And he said, “It’s like wearing a MAGA hat, that cover.”
So I was listening to her go through all of the things, and then sometimes I’m at work and so the Stanford Studio, our Hoover Studio, shuts down, so I went to do a Fox show and I got a call from the Fox producer who said, “They won’t let you on unless you write out in advance in an outline of everything you’re going to say.” So, I called him up, and I said, “I just heard two professors go on a rant on MSNBC with the Stanford logo from the studio about why Trump is treason and should be impeached,” and they backed down, and they said, “Okay, we won’t do it.” Next time, they do the same thing.
So there’s a climate we’re in right now that’s so insidious everywhere that we have a climate of fear that this popular culture has created, and it sounds like deterrence. They want to call you so many names. But then, if you back off a little bit, then that’s a victory for them, and that’s why I thought that her final call to arms was well taken. What I’d like to do is just ask the series of questions for about 25 minutes and open up for questions. How did this guy get elected, and I mean by that, how was he nominated? How did he get elected? How did he do pretty well for the first 2 years? Why do two groups of people hate him, the left of course, but as I learned from a reaction to this book, the Never Right hate him even more, the Never Trump Right, and then what’s the prognosis to the degree that anybody knows for 2020.
One thing we forget about the 2016 Republican primary field is it wasn’t like this Democratic field that we’re seeing with a lot of really crazy people. We were told these were the All-Stars. It wasn’t like the 2012 field. We wanted a governor. There was supposedly Chris Christie and Scott Walker, Bobby Jindal. If you wanted an up-and-coming Senator, there was Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz. If you wanted a successful outsider, it wasn’t Donald Trump. It was Carly Fiorina or Ben Carson. So we had this wonderful selection, and we nominated somebody for the first time in the history of the United States as a major nominee and then was elected that had neither political or military experience. Well, what was his point? We misinterpret sometimes and think well, he was a populist or a nationalist or a Jacksonian. But if you actually look at what he said, the doctrine was 80 percent Republican orthodox. And by that, I mean he wanted tax reform and reduction. He got that. He wanted to beef up the defense budget as most Republicans. He did that. He wanted to restore deterrence. He did that. He wanted to restore our traditional relationship with Israel. That was pretty much a standard Republican position. He wanted more energy production. He wanted strict constructionist judges. All of them wanted that. So what distinguished him? And there were two or three things, but one is, he tweaked that traditional Republican message in about three or four areas.
The first was he said that it wasn’t foreordained that China would take over the world in 2050. Insidiously, we had accepted that China’s become this population, or this supposed superior brand of communist-capitalism, that it would bully the allies of Asia, form a sort of a Greater Asia, co-prosperity similar in the way Japan did, and we had to get used to it. Trump said that not only were they not foreordained, but they were successful because of asymmetries in trade. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter. That was the message. And a couple times, if you go through what he said, it was very simplistic, but there was a logic to it. A billion people had a GDP, depending on how we measured of 8 to 10 or $11 trillion, 330 million had a GDP of 21 trillion. So, one American, if you say we’re all workers, was producing almost 2 ½ times the good and services of his Chinese counterpart. If you look at ratings of universities in the world, research universities, Times Education Supplement, University of Tokyo, of the top 20, about 17 are American. Five of them are in California. I think there’s one or two in China. If you look at agricultural production, oil production, military expenditures, it’s just preponderantly in America’s favor. Maybe the long-term trajectory was considered not so rosy, but he said that this was not foreordained.
He also said you didn’t have a country if you had an open border, and that immigration had to be measured. We get a million entries a year for legal immigrants and diverse rather than 70 percent coming from south of the border. Meritocratic is 85 percent of illegal immigrants do not have a high school diploma. And legal, that seems self-evident. It wasn’t at the time. Remember, Jeb Bush said that illegal immigration was an act of love. Most people in the Republican Party just didn’t want to discuss that.
The third thing that was quite different was he said if you’re going to be involved in an optional military engagement, you have to translate a tactical victory on the ground into a strategic advantage. So, it didn’t really matter how well we did during the surge. I was a big supporter of the surge, but if you don’t pacify Iraq, or you don’t secure it, whatever the reason is. The same thing with Afghanistan. The same thing with Libya. And so it was a punitive bomb the sh-t of out ISIS but do not waste precious resources when you’ve got a huge debt when the real rival might be China in the long term. Why are you fighting in the streets of Kabul when you can’t get a strategic advantage in the region? That was new for a Republican, and of course, being Trump, he said all sorts of other things that were gratuitously cruel to Bush but not necessarily inaccurate about the Iraq intervention, and he fudged about his own support. He had supported it, then he said he didn’t, but that’s Trump.
The Republicans had fallen in this trap of confusing cause and effect. Somebody takes Oxycoton, and therefore, is not eligible to work in a factory. No, it’s the other way around. A job’s left, and then somebody took it. It’s not to excuse that behavior, but what he was saying is that energy is pretty cheap in America. The workforce is not that bad, simply located area. There should be a reason why a welder from Bakersfield or somebody in Youngstown or somebody in York, Pennsylvania should benefit from globalization. Not the idea that any muscular labor that can be Xeroxed will be, and it’s your fault that you didn’t learn coding or head to the fracking fields of Dakota. That was sort of what a colleague in National Review of mine wrote. That message, but here was the brilliant part, it was geared toward the Electoral College of North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, where the election was really going to be held. Texas was not going to go blue in 2016. It’s not going to go blue in 2020. We in California are not going to go red. That’s where the election, and that appeal to that, and I don’t know to this day why those 16 other candidates didn’t grasp that basic fact, but they didn’t. And in fact, the people who were advising them, Bill Crystal, Max Boot, a lot of people I won’t mention that I work with at National Review. If you go back – and I quoted them in the book – you go back to what they said, they even went to the point that these people were not just deplorable or irredeemable or clingers but should be swapped out and illegal immigration was good because you were getting really robust young people. There’s a certain logic to it. But the idea that you write off a whole section of the population and you can do so because it’s politically correct, and this came from the conservative Right both during but especially after the election, shows you where the Republican establishment mindset was.
How did he beat them? He got the nomination. How did he beat Hillary Clinton? Think of the odds against him. He was outspent 2½ to 1. He was the first Republican that I can think of, maybe Barry Goldwater was slightly that way, where the Republican establishment was pretty much against him. And by that, I mean, the major organs of expression National Review, Commentary, Weekly Standard were against him. The Washington, New York Intellectual Group was against him. People like Mitch McConnell in the Senate and Paul Ryan to the extent that they could be candid were lukewarm, and, privately, they were against him, and yet he beat Hillary Clinton. Part of it was that Hillary Clinton, we always say, she was a lousy candidate. We don’t fully appreciate how lousy she was.
If you go into West Virginia, not that she was going to carry it, but you say coal is dead, and they’re going to be put out of work, and Donald Trump goes in and says he loves big beautiful coal, that’s a difference. Or if you go down to the South and say, “I’m so tired” and you fake that accent, then you go up to New England, and you fake a New England accent, and you wear the clothes of the region flannel here, straw hat there, and you’re running against a guy who wears this red tie and suit and a Queen’s accent whether he’s in Tulare, California or whether he’s in Florida, wherever he, is he’s authentic. He’s also empathetic. If you’re telling people that you’ve got to go build solar panels in Appalachia, and he’s going around and using the first person possessive – our farmers, our workers, our vets – that a difference. And that was the disconnect. They never understood that a billionaire from Manhattan with a Queen’s accent could connect better with average people than Hillary Clinton, the so-called progressive party of the people.
The other thing is that there was a great – this was brought home. I think I mentioned in a lecture. I won’t mention the names, but there was a very prominent person at the Hoover Institution. I was sitting at a table, and he was giving me a lecture about how awful the Trump campaign was – this was right before the election – and how he didn’t have any analytics, and they were going to fail. And Peter Till was sitting, and he was getting very angry with this, and he said, “He’s got great analytics because his analytics is not fifty states. He won’t be in Arizona and Georgia, as Hillary will be next week, trying to get a landslide that’s not going to happen, wasting her efforts why Trump, as the proverbial fox, will be in her hen house eating the chickens of the Midwest. And he said, “How do you know this?” He said, “Because I designed the analytics for him.” And so there was a perception that Trump had a bunch of buffoons, and he did have Amoroso and Scaramucci, but even those people were not as buffoonish as everybody thought. But he had some very sophisticated people working for him, and he was underrated.
The other thing that made him very successful besides this message, I mentioned that he was empathetic in a certain way. But the Republican base, whatever we call it, the Tea Party, the Reagan Democrat, the old parole voter, 6 to 8 million of them had not voted, either had not voted or had not voted for John McCain or Mitt Romney. And if they all were to come out, 90 percent 85 percent, there was a chance they could flip these states by very tiny margins – 70, 80, 90,000 votes. But to get them out you require not just this message that we talked about that he tweaked, but you had to have a different idea. The worst thing a candidate can do, I think you all agree, is to saw off the limb of their own supporters that go out on a limb to support them. By that I mean all of us were so angry at Reverend Wright, anti-Semitic, racist, anti-American. And we wrote that. We said that. And then when John McCain says, “I’m not going to mention Reverend Wright. I wouldn’t do that.” That’s telling his supporters, “I’m better than you are” even though you’re going out and taking the hit for him. Or when Mitt Romney didn’t grab that mic from Candy Crawley, and you’re attacking Candy Crawley for being an improper moderator, you feel like an idiot. But what Trump was telling to these people is, “Go out. Be another Lee Atwater. Do whatever you have to do to win. I’m sick and tired of losing nobly. No more Marcus of Queensbury rule.”
So, I remember when we had the Access Hollywood tape, somebody from a prominent magazine called me and said we’re going to vote tomorrow to withdraw support. I said, “That was an old video. But the point is, you have no idea.” They said, “Well, he’ll be crushed. I said, “Trump? He’ll be happy about this. He will be enthused. He will have a good debate.” I said, “They will have every possible woman in Bill Clinton’s history lined up in the front row.” And they did because I said, “This is an invitation to fight back.” So, there was a sense that they wanted not just a different message, but they wanted a messenger that would not embarrass their own base.
So then he got elected. And I overuse that image of Shane or the Magnificent Seven, or High Noon, or Dirty Harry, or Curtis Lamay or George Patton, but in literature and history, there is this archetype of somebody that’s not part of the system and yet has – I guess we would call them skill sets, imagination, real value – and is brought in to solve an existential problem. In our case, we hadn’t had 3 percent GDP. We really were locked in this Middle East mindset where the Palestinians were still called refugees unlike the Volga Germans or the 13 million that walked back to Germany from the Sudetenland or East Prussia. They’re no longer refugees. But we just couldn’t – the Iran deal was sacrosanct.
All of these things we thought were wrong but we couldn’t do it. And so we brought this person in and because he was free of any obligations, he was able to just do things. Get out of the Iran deal, get out of Paris Accord. Just the other day, recognize the Golan Heights. Decertify UN via American funds to the Palestinians, move the embassy to Jerusalem, green light Keystone, open federal lands for, etc., etc. And in the process, as you know, of all of these careers or a Patton or a Lamay or the movie Dirty Harry or Shane, the more that they can stand up and solve a problem, the more that people get uneasy with them. So the more that Trump got the economy going, the more we had the luxury of concentrating or focusing on his tweets. So we all had this impression that wow, the economy’s doing pretty well. Wow, jobs were 3.8 the other day. It just came out. More job people were hired than we thought, middle class. But why did he have to go after George Conway, of all people? I really didn’t like it that he went after the ghost of John McCain. But we wouldn’t be saying that if we were in an existential crisis, but we’re not. So that’s sort of the Sophocles in paradox. When these people come in, they start to get results and those very results allow us the luxury of regretting that we were ever so base and crude to allow him to come in.
I’ve done a lot of interviews, because one of the things the book sellers like you do is regional talk shows. And other things like that. And a lot of people say: Wwhy would you want to write a book about him? And these are even conservatives who will say why would you do that? You were writing about World War II. That was good. But the idea is you don’t want to come out and endorse Donald Trump because it’s a reflection on all of your education and your sobriety or your sense of judiciousness. But we just come out and say we needed a Shane to come in and clean things up. And then all tragic heroes don’t end well. So, as I said, I don’t think Donald Trump will be invited to a funeral of post-presidents. It’s not going to happen. The next president’s not going to call him up and say you’re a wise man now. Got any advice? It’s not going to happen. And he could just as easily get back to the World Wrestling Foundation, get back in the ring after he’s president. As he said, “I’m not unpresidential.” I’m quoting him direct. “I’m new Presidential.”
So we have this ambiguity, but it’s really an ambiguity that reflects as much on our character as his. If you think things are going well, and, by past president, he hasn’t done anything more outrageous. People say, well, that’s a low bar. And I said no. It’s a very low bar because if you look at what JFK did, by that I mean Anna Roosevelt was arranging affairs with Lucy Mercer for FDR — his own daughter. And I just got in a big argument with him. He said, well, how could you, a Ph.D.? I said, especially a Ph.D. But he said how could a Ph.D. support Donald Trump given what he does? I’m just playing a thought process. I said I didn’t like it when he exposed himself to the Cabinet. I didn’t like the idea that he deflowered a virgin. I didn’t like that he asked one of his own aides to fellate one of his own staffers in the pool. I thought it was terrible he was having some kind of bizarre sex right off the … See? See? I said everything I just mentioned applied to Bill Clinton, JFK, and FDR. And, more importantly, we don’t know because the world is tragic. It’s not melodramatic. The two best sterling characters we had as President were Jimmy Carter, I think, and Gerry Ford. No better people. But if you look at that period between 1974 and 1980, it’s not an argument that good character means bad leadership. It’s just an argument that every once in a while they’re not synonymous, and we should remember that.
Why do people hate him so much? The left, I think, two or three reasons. The first is the utter shock. I went back and looked at the New York Times the day before the election, and it was three series of analytics they were quoting, not just polls but analytics, based on surveys of who was going to vote and what the percentage of each – and one said 2 percent chance of winning, 7 percent, 12. Nate Silver, 3 days before, said he has a 27 percent chance of winning, and they just got furious at him. How dare you say that? He doesn’t have 27. That’s going to encourage people. So there was this sense of utter shock that this person won and he won the way he did, and it interrupted 16 years, 16 years of an Obama-Clinton regnum. So they were thinking two to three Supreme Court judges, thinking right. They were thinking that what is now the New Green Deal would sort have been fast tracked. I think we would’ve seen a real effort to institutionalize reparations.
I think this new agenda that almost makes infanticide permissible – I shouldn’t say almost. It does. Abortion would’ve been institutionalized. I think we would be talking about a wealth tax, 70 to 90 percent income tax on the top rates. I think there would have been an effort to abolish or do something with Ice. This border that we see, I think, would be permanently open. I think there would’ve been some type of massive cancellation of student debt. I think, had they won the House and Senate and the presidency – I don’t know if they could’ve pulled it off given the nature of the constitutional amendment process, but there would’ve been an effort to change the composition of the Court and, also, abolish the Electoral College and allow 16 year olds to vote along with felons. In other words, efforts to institutionalize that 16 years into a 30, 40‑year period, and I think they might have been successful. And so they hated him because he stopped that. And not only did he stop it, but he almost, being Donald Trump, I think he’s used it three times. I’m using my pen and phone – remember that phrase from Obama? – as an executive order to undo a lot of these things, to deregulate, to open up federal lands for gas production. He did things that deliberately irritated them.
The second thing was, and this applies a little bit to the Never Trumper. If he succeeded without any of these references, even though he went to Tufts and he had a good education, but if he succeeded without consulting the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Bank, calling up the Hoover Institution, then that, by nature, might be a referendum on people who did that as a requisite for good governments or a prognosticator of a good Presidency. In other words, if you didn’t go to Yale Law School like Clinton or Harvard Law School like Barack Obama but you had a more impressive economic record, not that the two are necessarily equivalent, but it might suggest to a lot of people, maybe we, in this country, got to get away from this idea that Yale, Harvard, Stanford means something rather than just a cattle brand. And one thing about Trump, he is prescient, as we saw from the admission scandal. A lot of people look at these universities just, as their child, as some kind of steer who will be branded and put in the right herd in the right pasture but not necessarily worrying too much whether they get educated or not. But it’s a referendum on the status quo, and I think that worried a lot of people.
And then there’s a sense, especially in the progressive side, that you can have style over substance, and you can see that with Joe Biden. If Joe Biden says that FDR should’ve gotten television in 1929 and addressed the nation about the Great Depression, and he said it as Joe Biden, then nobody’s dare said to him there was no TV, commercially, available, and FDR was not President or put you all back in change or Barack Obama’s the first clean African-American candidate, as if Barbara Jordan, brilliant candidate. But there was the idea that the way you say it and who you say it and what you say. If you say take a gun to a knife fight or get in their faces or you people from Philadelphia like a brawl or Trayvon is like the son that I never had or punish our enemy. If you can say that in a particular style and a particular way of saying it, it’s okay. But if you say the same things with a Queen’s accent or a Sarah Palin accident, then it’s a window into a dark soul. And he did that. And I thought, you know what? This is confirmation that the deplorable, the irredeemables, the wrong people.
There was a great article in American Greatness by a Hoover scholar, Jeremy Carl, and they looked at tribal affinities by race and class. I don’t know if you saw it, but it was quite revealing, that every group, birds of a feather flock together. African-Americans seem to have an innate trust more of African-Americans, Hispanics,other Hispanics, Asians of Asians, and white people of a certain class more but the least of all, 52 percent, as I recall. But the one group that did not trust its own tribe and had a dislike for, were wealthy, white, liberal people. Maybe that would be noble as Socratic citizens of the word, but what it told me is that type of person has something psychologically very angry at itself, its tradition, and its emblemized by Donald Trump. His way of talking, how he made his money, the people who like him, to them, it all conjures up certain violations of their sense of self. And their sense of self is: I have become a progressive. I have taken out identity insurance. And because, in the abstract, I care and feel, I don’t want a wall on the southern border. Therefore, I can have a wall around my Mark Zuckerberg estate. I really do want to stop transfers of water because I care about the smell, but not Hetch Hetchy that brings me a shower every morning in Palo Alto. I really do like the idea of the public schools. I do not like teachers unions. But I have to at least put my kids in Castelay or Sacred Heart or the Mendel school. So, for them, that particular subset that really hates Trump, it’s the idea that this guy just comes in, and all of their pretensions or all of their disconnects, he challenges. And then he doesn’t just challenge it. He points out how hypocritical they are. He does that all the time. If you look at his tweets, that’s one constant theme. You have walls. Why can’t the nation have walls? If you don’t want Betty Boss to do something, then put your kid in a public school. That’s a very scary thing to do for a lot of people.
This is even more perplexing because, if you look at all of the things that Trump has done and you go to that place, the Bulwark, and see what people are writing or see what Max Boot or David Frum or Bill Kristol or George Will are writing, almost all of the issues that they’ve spent their life advancing are now been either suspect or rejected because of Trumps’ fingerprints are on them. Think of that. This messenger has polluted my message to the extent that I no longer want that message to succeed. I want him to fail and, with it, the Republican Party. And then, like some mystical phoenix, they’re going to ask me to come and, again, in sober and judicious terms, rebuild the party in my image. That’s what it’s all about.
But why that hatred? And I think part of it is most of the people who were involved in the Never Trump were in some ways invested in particular campaigns, especially the Rubio campaign, some … the Cruz. And they really did feel that they would be the wise men, as they usually are. They would be asked to come into the White House. They would be on the talk shows. They would be the people who were advising. And this Trump guy – I think Eliot Cohen, a Never Trumper, summed it up best when he wrote op‑ed, said I went in and offered my expertise, and they not only didn’t take it, they made fun of me. This is a person who wrote almost every day how awful Trump was. I had another person call me, and he said you know any of these people? I said not particularly. Maybe. And he said can you believe what they did? I said what? I offered my services to the State Department, and they have a special office in the White House that examines every tweet and Facebook posting. And I said duh. I said there was just an op‑ed on September 5, 2018. The guy said that I’m part of the resistance trying to destroy the Trump administration from within. And he said yeah. This was during the primary, and he’s this way. And I said so why would you want to work for him? Well, because he needs me. And that attitude of entitlement, I think, something about Trump and the people he brought in said we don’t just not want you people, at least some of them, but we don’t like you. And that was a tit for tat. They started it, and Trump, unlike most Republicans, was not magnanimous. He thought that their hostility should not be repaid with magnanimity. He thought it should be repaid with even greater scorn. And that’s typical of him. If you look at his tweets, take the worst, stupid things he’s been in with John McCain or the Pakistani Gold Star family or whoever it is. He usually gets hit first, and then, as some coiled Cobra, he strikes back. But he never really starts it. But once somebody starts it, then he goes back, and that appeals to a particular American. It’s very American, and that bothers the Never Trump even more. They felt, given my position and wisdom and education and experience, I have the right to make fun of this outside buffoon, and I would never imagine that he would question me, and he did. And so they’re looking at him now, and I think they’re afraid that they’ve become useful idiots. By that I mean their currency, their funding, their residence, now, is based on we, as Republicans, can tell the world that he’s not of us, and we hate him, and he’s going to destroy the country, but we’re afraid that once he’s gone, the people who fund us and welcome us might consider us no longer useful, and then where do they go?
I don’t think the establishment is going to come back after Trump, whether he’s gone in 2020 or 2024, and say okay. Let’s get to work and start listening to us again because, remember, since 1988, the Republican Party had not won 51 percent of the popular vote. It lost five out of the last six popular votes. It’s not that Trump won the popular vote, but they got killed in the Electoral College, except for that 2000 election. So this is a time, at the state and local level, just in the Obama administration alone, they picked up over 1,100 seats, so there was something wrong on the national ticket that these architects of orthodoxy had not addressed, and we know what it was. They had a message, and they had messengers that did not appeal to these people in these key swing states of the Midwest and Florida and places.
What are his chances in 2020? Well, as historians, we just have to ask ourselves what happens to an incumbent President? They usually win, about 75 percent, 80 percent of the time. And when they don’t, whether it’s George H. W. Bush or Jimmy Carter or their second term implodes, it’s usually one of three things. A sudden economic downturn can happen with Trump. I just talked to a lot of economists at Hoover. Most of them are Never Trump. They think that we’re in trouble. I don’t think we’ll see a recession before the election. An unpopular war in Iraq or Vietnam, I don’t think that’s in the cards. Or a scandal, a Watergate scandal or something of that nature. I don’t think the Mueller thing is going to pan out. In fact, I know it’s not.
So then how is he doing on other metrics? At this time, in their beginning of their third year, Barack Obama and Clinton had come up a little bit, and they went from 43 to 45 percent in the Gallup. We didn’t have a real clear politics. That’s pretty much where Trump is. Trump lost 39, I guess it’s now 40, seats in the House. Clinton lost 53. Obama lost 62. Clinton lost 8 senators. Obama lost 6 in their midterms. Trump picked up 2. Clinton pretty much got 49 percent, thanks to the second running of Perot, but he did defeat Bob Dole handedly. And Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney handedly. So, in some sense, Trump’s reelection chances, the history of it, is pretty good. It’s his to lose.
Everybody thinks that Trump is running in a popularity contest. Presidential candidates are between good ones and better or bad ones and worse. We saw that in 2016 with Hillary Clinton. People, in that party, did not understand that when she got up on the podium and started shrieking in that squeaky – that just turned people off. Or that sense of entitlement about the emails or that array of people around her, they didn’t understand that her negatives were just as high as Trump but even, perhaps, higher because they were underreported. And so, this time around, the Democratic Party, as I said, has this menu, and we saw with Al Sharpton – remember, Al Sharpton came into national prominence for inciting a riot that led to a death for anti-Semitic, homophobic, and racist slur, and now he is some kind of adjudicator on reparations, of all things. And these candidates are going to this racist and begging him for their endorsement. And they think that’s going to play out in the general election, and they think the infanticide’s going to play out, and they think the wealth tax is going to play out and the open borders, all these issues I just mentioned. But the problem with all of them is, if you look at their polling, and there has been polling, on every single one of them, they don’t approach 51 percent. So then the question is, if they actually get tagged with this, it’s going to be very hard for a guy like Joe Biden to run in a primary and not have to endorse some of those, whether in the debates or the convention.
So then the question is they don’t have a winning message, and Trump, this time around, is not just the Manhattan controversial developer. He’ll have a 4‑year record, and it will be pretty good.
So then the question is the candidates themselves, can they overturn the message? But the problem here is that white privilege, white privilege, white privilege, white privilege, identity politics, identity politics, identity politics. And by the logic of the Democratic Party, it’s time for white males to step aside. They’ve had their turn. And the inclusivity party will now put Stacey Abrams, who’s never been elected to anything, as Vice President, maybe, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren. All of them are identified, whether favorably or not, with identity politics and ethnic heritages. And so the question is, when you look at the polls, the three leaders are Biden, Beto, and Bernie. And so that’s a contradiction. And we saw with Hillary Clinton that her formula for success was that I’m going to inherit all the upside of Barack Obama. I’m going to inherit record minority turnout so that I’m going to get so many votes in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia it’ll wipe out western Pennsylvania, so many in Ann Arbor and Detroit, it’ll wipe out southern Michigan, so many in Milwaukee, etc., etc. But what turned out is she inherited the downside from Obama, turning off the white working class, and none of the upside, not that record participation. And so, if they nominate any of those three people, they won’t get – and even if they nominate a Kamala Harris or Cory Booker, I don’t think they will get the ethnic or racial residents that Obama did, partly because there’s no longer a novelty factor involved.
And so, to sum up, we get into 2020. It reminds me of what Talleyrand said of the Bourbons, they have forgotten nothing, and they’ve learned nothing in 4 years. And they still believe that 2016 was a fluke. They still read each other’s op‑eds. They still think the polls are absolutely accurate, and they still think that, just maybe, when we sued for the Voting Rights Act, the voting machines right after the election, that would have worked. Just maybe we could talk those electors into not following their constitutional responsibilities. Remember that? And they will not vote for what the states voted for. Just maybe we can get that emoluments clause of the Constitution and get him out. Just 200 House members sued. Just maybe we can evoke the 25th Amendment and declare him unfit. Just maybe we can revive the dossier and get the Mueller investigation. Just maybe we can sue him on his taxes. Just maybe Barr misinterpreted the Mueller report, and there’s going to be bombshell. The walls will close in. The noose will be tightening again. And all of this is in lieu of what? Of having a message that resonates with 51 percent of the people and candidates that don’t appear as if they’re crazy. And with that, I’ll take questions. Thank you.
Moderator: We have time for a couple questions. Anybody have a question? Any questions?
Audience member: Um, my question is about McCain. It’s my understanding that Trump is angry at him for things that go back to the 2016 election. And I’m not sure what McCain did to cause that anger. Could you explain that?
Hanson: If you were Donald Trump, I think his writ would be about four or five things. He would say that in 2008 McCain, as Romney did in 2012, went up to Trump Tower and asked for his endorsement, and Trump provided it, even though he may or may not have preferred McCain. And then you would argue that after the dossier failed, even though it was leaked to Michael Isikoff and David Corn and Julia Joff and others and they wrote articles during the election and it failed to stop the Trump campaign, there was an effort, then, to destroy the transition. And then, in December, John McCain took that dossier, gave it to his aide, Kramer, who went over to Britain to talk to Christopher Steele. Then he seeded that in the State Department and seeded it with maybe some of the intelligence. And John McCain was hoping, then, that would develop enough hysteria — he hoped right. Or then, if we talk to Donald Trump, he said John McCain ran in his latest primary on one plank, and that was to repeal Obamacare. And then, even though he was ill, he made a special trip to go in and be the tie-breaking vote against something he’d campaigned on just to spite Donald Trump. Or then you would say that, in a very petty way, Trump mentioned, I allowed the funeral. Well, he should have done that anyway. But the point he was trying to make was the John McCain funeral turned into something like the Paul Wellstone funeral. I hadn’t seen anything like it since Paul Wellstone. By that I mean, if you look at what Meghan McCain said, her eulogy was basically an attack on Donald Trump. And even Barack Obama and George Bush, in coded language, attacked the President of the United States at a day of mourning, and these are supposed to be people better than Trump. So if you add all of those up, he had some grounds to be angry. Don’t say anything about the dead unless it’s good. That was sort of the canon of Western civilization. So when he came out and attacked McCain after his death, we were shocked about that. I guess we have one more.
Moderator: We have time for one more question.
Audience member: How do you feel about the way Trump is handling the whole immigration thing, the Mexican border and everything? What is your opinion about how he’s handling it and if he’s doing everything he can?
Hanson: Well, I mean, there’s two questions. Why is the border – especially as the weather warms up, what we’re seeing now is going to be nothing because these caravans are really going to come in May, June, and July. So he missed an opportunity to really put Congress, when he had both the House and Senate – I don’t know if Paul Ryan would have cooperated, but, my God, they could have built a wall. I doubt Paul Ryan would have done it. But the point I’m making is what more is he supposed to do when he doesn’t have a majority of pro‑wall senators, even in his own party? So he has a narrow majority in the Senate. But, as you saw from that emergency vote, they weren’t with him. He lost the House. The courts are against him. And I know that Ann Coulter and all these other people are furious at him, but what is he supposed to do now, other than threaten Mexico with tariffs or threaten Mexico with closing the border? And people are coming because they feel that there are forces in the United States, liberal, judicial, political, whatever they are, that will nullify federal law and that they will get across the border before Trump is reelected and might win back the House and Senate. They are told that. If you’re going to come to the United States, now come. And why are they doing this? Because the Democratic Party, as we just said, doesn’t feel that its message is persuasive to 51 percent of the electorate. So it either thinks that it has to let 16 year olds vote, change the electorate by ex‑felons in key states, 16 year olds or illegal aliens, and second and third generation will change and flip California, flip Nevada, flip New Mexico, flip, maybe, Arizona and Texas. Or change the system. Change the Electoral College. But, again, these are efforts to deal with a reality that’s not palatable to them. Political reality right now is going to fundamentally change America in the way they want it, and so they have to change us.
Audience member: When you say close the border, though, how do you close the border?
Hanson: Yeah. So he’s trying to do e‑verify. He’s got people in his own party that are not on board on that. To close a border, you’d have to do about five things. You would have to tell sanctuary cities that they were confederate nullificationists and they were not going to get federal funds. Or you would have to say somebody who’s interested in nullifying federal gun law in Utah can go ahead and buy a handgun. You can just take it home the day he buys it. Or somebody in Arizona that wants to plow over a field where an EPA endangered species lizard is, go ahead and do it. You nullified federal law. It doesn’t exist. He’s tried to do that. He’s tried to sue and say if you have a sanctuary city, you’re not going to get police and highway funds. He’s been overturned. So he can’t do anything about sanctuaries. It’s ridiculous. He should have, I think, immediately just take Homeland Security, DOD, EPA and say transfer monies and start building the first day he was president because we know that the wall, while it won’t keep out all – it will free up resources. But if you just think of it rationally and think, if you were president, what would be the 10 or 12 things you would try to do to discourage this, I think he’s done them all.
Audience member: But why now? You said about closing the borders. Right now.. What is do we see happening years from now?
Hanson: Well, he said that because he’s headed into an election, and the economists are telling him he’s not going to get 2.9 or 3. annualized GDP growth and that the government shutdown may – I don’t know whether it did or not, but it may have hurt him by 2 or 3 points. And if he shuts down this multi-billion-dollar daily trade, that he’s going to suffer a little economic hit, or at least enough that his enemies will say he destroyed the economy. And so that’s why. But it’s very hard to – unless you have a wall, unless you have a system that punishes the employer, unless you have a system that says you can deport somebody who’s here illegally, and especially who’s committed a crime – we don’t have any of that. And he keeps thinking that he can do it, but he doesn’t have a party behind him in the Senate. He doesn’t even have the party majority in the House anymore. And even when he did, they weren’t behind him. And he doesn’t have support from the courts. And I get very tired. I wrote a book about it, and when we did do better, we had people like Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, even Barack Obama, saying you have to close the border. And they were doing that because, even as late as 2007 and 8, the Democratic Party was so scared of the working union electorate, and they thought that cheap wages would hurt working class Americans. They though minority communities were impacted adversely through their social services. They felt that crime came in. So they were pretty tough on the border. In fact, I could make an argument that by 2002 they were becoming tougher than Republican Wall Street Journal establishmentarians that wanted cheap labor. Remember, it was Cesar Chavez’ group that went down in the ’80s and patrolled the border to stop illegal aliens coming in and depressing farm wages.