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Victor Davis Hanson, a vis­iting scholar from the Hoover Insti­tution, sat down with the Col­legian to discuss current events. Madeline Peltzer | Col­legian

Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Insti­tution at Stanford Uni­versity, a mil­itary his­torian, and a vis­iting pro­fessor at Hillsdale College. His latest book is “The Case for Trump.” He gave a lecture at Hillsdale College on Wednesday titled “Plague, Panic, and Protests — The Weird Election Year of 2020.”

The past few months have been wild: We’ve been shut in our houses, our cities are burning, plus there’s a big election. What’s going on?

I’m not sure if it would’ve hap­pened like this if we hadn’t had the lockdown and the recession. The average age of these Antifa types is 27 and they’re angry at the system. They’re scared by the recession, frus­trated by their student-loan debt, angry that their majors in envi­ron­mental studies doesn’t translate into jobs, and they see people who are better off than they are and they resent it.  

How could that translate into voting pat­terns come November?

I think it explains why we see these mys­te­rious polls moving black support for Trump from 8% to 28% and Latinos from 22% to 36%. To a lot of minority people, these white kids with their whiny, shrill voices seem like priv­i­leged, spoiled brats. And when they see their enablers on cable tele­vision, even if they’re black or brown, they tend to be elites too. They may not like Trump but they think he’s gritty and effective and tells you what he thinks and they appre­ciate it.

I think he’s going to do very well in a way that’s coun­ter­in­tu­itive. Mitt Romney and the late John McCain knew how to appeal in the mod­erate sense, but they actually came off as white elitists. Trump should come off that way because he’s a bil­lionaire white person, except he’s an out­sider. Nobody liked him in Man­hattan, he has a Queens accent, he dresses funny, he looks weird, and he tells you what he thinks. That seems to appeal to working-class people.

In any other year, defunding the police, burning cities, and looting busi­nesses would be a sure way to lose an election. Yet until just a few days ago, the Biden cam­paign has ignored the sit­u­ation, denied it, or encouraged it. Why?

If somebody came from a dif­ferent planet, they’d say you can easily beat Trump, you just need a working-class con­ser­v­ative black guy or white guy – it doesn’t matter – to talk about class and eco­nomic issues and deplore the vio­lence and you win.

But the Democrats can’t do that because they are captive to Bernie Sanders and the young people who make up about 20% of their party who are so hard left. They’re scared of them.

If you look at what they’re being told by their intel­lectual cham­pions, it’s “looting’s okay, stealing’s okay, every white person is a racist,” and they kind of believe that. They think they’re the cutting edge but they’re not. They don’t under­stand that most Amer­icans don’t want looting or to stig­matize a whole race and say they’re all racists any more than they want to say blacks have a higher crime rate and therefore they’re all criminal. These people come out of the uni­ver­sities, which are all left-wing, and listen to the left-wing media, and they get bad advice.

What about their strategy to blame Trump for every­thing?

They think voters are dumb. You can see that in the vocab­ulary of dis­par­agement they used in 2016: the irre­deemables, the basket of deplorables, Obama in 2008 talking about the “clingers” who cling to their religion, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page laughing about the smelly people at Walmart. So they have a con­tempt for them and they don’t realize that these people are very astute and they listen to things and they remember. 

What impact, if any, do you think the party con­ven­tions will have on the election?

If you looked at the polls before the con­ven­tions, there was an insidious but incre­mental gain for Trump. Part of that is because the news cycle is changing a little bit. The virus seems to be on the down­swing of its second spike, quar­antine has been rede­fined as putting kids back in school, the rioting is losing its appeal, Kamala Harris didn’t do much as Biden’s vice-pres­i­dential pick. The natural cycle that was so anti-Trump is starting to change. And so the two con­ven­tions each had a task: the DNC to stop that momentum and the RNC’s to accel­erate it.

After the two con­ven­tions were over, there wasn’t a wide margin, but the trends have con­tinued. The polls that had a better record last time around but weren’t as pres­ti­gious — the Emerson poll, the Trafalgar poll, the Daily Express poll — they’re showing the race is dead even.

There are two reasons why this matters. One is that Democrats are ter­rified of 2016, when the polls they count on now betrayed them and the polls they ridiculed and couldn’t be true were accurate. In their way of thinking, lightning cannot strike twice. The second thing that really bothers them is that Joe Biden should have never been their can­didate. He’s not cog­ni­tively able to do it and they know it. They were given a great gift with the quar­antine and lockdown. He was a half-can­didate, a Zoom can­didate. The only way you could force him to get out and run is to get the polls where Trump at least appears to be nearly even, and that’s what the RNC achieved in their con­vention.

Every year people say this is “the most important election of our lives.” Do you think it’s true in 2020?

I think it’s one of the top four or five most important elec­tions. If Biden is elected we’re going to have a socialist agenda and we’ve never had that. Every socialist, whether it was Eugene Debs or Samuel Gompers, never got close. This time, they’re coming in the back door because of Biden and they can actually take power without having a majority support them. Kamala Harris basi­cally ran as a socialist and nobody wanted her. 

So what would that look like?  If the Democrats win the Senate and get rid of the fil­i­buster, which they say they will, and they keep the House, I think the first thing they’d do is pack the Supreme Court with six liberal jus­tices. They’d abolish the Elec­toral College without amending the Con­sti­tution. They’d change the First and Second Amendment through court orders and exec­utive orders — I can just imagine what it’d be like to try to buy a gun or what it’ll be like on campus to speak freely. They’re going to try to do some­thing struc­tural, not just political.

So yes, I’m really worried that these are rev­o­lu­tion­aries and in a normal year they’d have no chance, but because of COVID, the lockdown, the rioting, and Biden’s lack of mental capa­bil­ities, you could see our first socialist in history.