. . . the "existential war for the soul of America."
These excerpts are from an essay on the nature of the conservative confrontation with modern liberalism. You should read the whole thing, here: (John Fonte, "Disruptive Politics in the Trump Era: Yuval Levin or Victor Davis Hanson?," American Greatness, December 15, 2017 (boldfaced emphasis added by Unca D)). This post looks only at Mr. Hanson's views, which are -- in my opinion -- more nearly correct than Mr. Levin's, and considerably more troubling.
Mr. Fonte says Mr. Yuval sees the conflict as "a coherent debate between left and right forms of liberalism." Mr. Hanson, by contrast, sees "a much deeper existential struggle over the very nature of the American 'regime' itself -- its principles, values, institutions, mores, culture, education, citizenship, and 'way of life.'"
I would argue that Hanson is essentially correct: We are in the middle of a 'regime' struggle.
Put another way: We are in an argument over the meaning of 'the American way of life," because the weight of opinion on the progressive left rejects the classic constitutionally based American regime.
Instead, progressives envision a new way of governing in both politics and culture based on an individual's race, ethnicity, and gender rather than on our common American citizenship.
Progressives don't really deny this. Recall President Barack Obama, who in 2008 famously (or infamously) announced his administration would be "fundamentally transforming America." America, as it existed at the time, was something Obama viewed as deeply problematic -- permeated with "institutional" racism and sexism.
There can be no doubt that Obama understands the ongoing progressive-liberal campaign against conservatives and traditional America as a "regime struggle" ("They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion" . . .). But somehow, many Americans still want to resist or deny the implications of these words.
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[In the mid 1950s,] James Burnham, National Review's foreign policy guru and [William F.] Buckley's closest advisor, posited that liberal ideology thoroughly undermined not only the American regime, but the entirety of Western civilization itself. . . . The "principal function of modern liberalism," Burnham [tells] us, is to facilitate the suicide of Western Civilization. Moreover, this civilization would be rationalized "by the light of the principles of liberalism not as a final defeat, but as a transition to a new and higher order in which Mankind as a whole joins a universal civilization, that has risen above the parochial distinctions, divisions, and discriminations of the past."
In the second decade of the 21st century, the twin pillars of the ongoing progressive-liberal revolution to fundamentally transform the American "regime" are the administrative state and the cultural leviathan. . . .
. . . . In the political arena, a powerful administrative state often exercises legislative, executive, and judicial powers in what can only be described as an illegitimate exercise or "post-constitutional" manner. Liberal-dominated regulatory agencies and politicized courts make crucial policy (rather than judicial) decisions while an elected Congress (under both Republican and Democrat control) has lacked the will and confidence to confront these post-Constitutional usurpers. Indeed, at times they have encouraged it.
In the cultural sphere . . . we have witnessed a "new kind of civil religion" in which Americans are judged not as equal citizens "but by the moral standing established by their group identity." Under the all-consuming concept of "diversity," mainstream liberalism enforces ethnic and gender group rights and political correctness in the major institutions of civil society that the progressives have captured. Liberals under the banner of "diversity" are establishing what Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci called "ideological-cultural hegemony" in the moral-intellectual realm of society, the sector that Tocqueville called "mores."
Today the facts on the ground tell us that the progressive left dominates major institutions of American life: the universities, the mainstream media, the mainline churches, the entertainment industry, and the human resources departments of the Fortune 500. Thus, Harvard, Yale, CNN, the Episcopal Church, Hollywood, and Silicon Valley . . . are part of a nexus that I will call the "cultural leviathan," which is allied with the administrative state.
Let us look at the empirical look at this cultural leviathan. In October 2016 Econ Journal Watch published a study of faculty voting registration at forty leading American colleges which revealed an overall Democrat preference over Republicans by 11.5-to-1[. Among] history professors the ratio was 33.5-to-1. In May 2015 the Crimson reported that between 2011 and 2014 [(long] before the political rise of Donald Trump) 96 percent of political contributions by Harvard professors in the Arts and Sciences were for Democrats. At Harvard Law School, 98 percent of political donations went to Democrats. The Center for Responsive Politics revealed dthat in 2012 Barack Obama crushed Mitt Romney in Hollywood celebrity fundraising 9-to-1.
. . . . In the fall of 2016, the liberal Center for Public Integrity published a report entitled[,] "Journalists shower Hillary Clinton with campaign cash[,]" revealing that around 96 percent of the political contributions of media professionals went to Clinton.
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The rarely stated, but clear function of the cultural leviathan is to enforce the boundaries of . . . what Swedes call the "opinion corridor." In other words: what is acceptable public discourse, and what isn't; what is tolerable and intolerable, within the context of political correctness, with the goal of promoting the overarching "diversity" project.
[Mr. Fonte then gives three examples of how the cultural leviathan enforces or manipulates the opinion corridor: the defenestration of Larry Summers as president of Harvard, the firing of a Google engineer who challenged major assumptions of gender and ethnic group preferences, and the decision of Christ Church (Episcopal) in Alexandria, Virginia, to remove memorial plaques to parishioners George Washington and Robert E. Lee. He continues with this:]
The California NAACP denounces the National Anthem as "racist" . . . . Clearly, George Washington and the national anthem are delegitimized and denigrated by the cultural leviathan, because America's past and America's common culture must be repainted in negative colors, if the progressive future is to be achieved. Decades ago, George Orwell famously reminded us in Nineteen Eighty-Four that "he who controls the past, controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past."
The relentless advance of the administrative state and the cultural leviathan in both the public and private sectors presents a classic dilemma for those who call themselves "conservatives." . . .
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While Yuval Levin asks whether conservatives "won or lost" the 2016 election . . . progressive-liberals have no doubt that they lost the Presidential race and exhibit no ambiguity about what to do next.
As Victor Davis Hanson has written, "the election of President Donald J. Trump . . . presented a roadblock to an on-going progressive revolution" and "unlike recent Republican nominees . . . Trump "was indifferent to the cultural and political restraints on conservative pushback.."
"Even more ominously" for progressives, Hanson notes, "Trump found a seam" in the blue wall and "blew it apart," actually carrying Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa, and winning the election
The result, Hanson notes, is that "we are witnessing a desperate putsch to remove Trump before he can do any more damage to the Obama project . . . . The branches of this insidious coup d'etat are quite unlike anything our generation has ever witnessed." (All italics added.)
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[In contrast to Levin,] Hanson proposes a very different response to the Progressive Project and the Trump Administration. As noted earlier, Hanson declared that we are in a "larger existential war for the soul of America." Further, he states, "warts and all, the Trump presidency on all fronts is all that now stands in the way of what was started in 2009" (Obama's "fundamental transformation of the United States of America.")
"The Marquess of Queensberry world of John McCain and Mitt Romney," Hanson tells us, will not halt the march of the Progressive Left[. A form] of disruption is required. "Either Trump will restore economic growth, national security, the melting pot, legality, and individual liberty or he will fail and we will go the way of Europe," Hanson writes. "For now, there is no one else in the opposition standing in the way of radical progressivism."