Of Progressive Carnivores and Cannibals

The Obama-era Democratic Party bears little resemblance to the themes embraced just 11 years ago by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primaries.

The parameters of marriage, in Obama’s words “between a man and woman,” has now transmogrified beyond gay civil unions to legal gay marriage to transgendered fixations.

Obama once protested that he was no king who could open the border and grant amnesties by fiat. Yet his view of immigration has metamorphosed well beyond DACA and Dreamers into Democratic candidates going into Mexico to escort aliens unlawfully into our country, and 500 sanctuary jurisdictions in which federal immigration law is all but null and void. An American citizen convicted of using a fake Social Security Number and phony ID is a felon who is all but unemployable; an illegal alien who commits the same crimes learns quickly that these are not deportable offenses and mostly never prosecuted.

In a nanosecond, Betsy Ross’s iconic colonial flag, which once emblazoned the backdrop of the 2012 Obama inauguration ceremony, have become racist icons—or so Nike pitchman Colin Kaepernick has decreed, ordering his corporate bosses to remove them from commemorative sneakers.

Obamacare has abruptly morphed into “Medicare for All”—including illegal aliens who are to be eligible the moment they cross the border, despite never having paid a dime into the system.

The old affirmative action protocols designed to accommodate the historical grievances of blacks and Mexican-Americans have been reinvented with revolutionary speed as “diversity”—loosely defined as anyone “not white.” Thus, the vast new rubric is inclusive of wealthy Chinese-Americans, recent South American middle-class immigrants, well-off Punjabi arrivals, upscale Middle Easterners and almost anyone else, including those who fake a nonwhite identity in the manner of Elizabeth Warren or Ward Churchill. Suddenly the “woke” nonwhite were no longer 15-20 percent of the population, but comprised a supposed 30-40 percent powerful “constituency,” all united by their loathing of supposed “white privilege” and victimization from “white supremacy.”

The progressive-socialist party has absorbed what is left of the old Democratic Party. Its iconoclasts are not satisfied with erasing the images or commemorations of old white public enemies of the past—Father Serra, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson—but have quite logically turned their identity politics venom on all old white people of the present, including some of their own left-wing brethren.

At first, the progressive Old Guard in Congress, like good Girondists, found the revolutionary carnivores useful in reducing the ranks of the Trumpians, the Tea Party, Reagan Democrats, old Perot voters, and the white working class to the inanimate status of “deplorables,” “irredeemables,” “clingers,” and “dregs”—and with them, the bigoted, racist, sexist, nativist, classist, homophobic, and xenophobic Republican Party. Certainly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and a few geriatric sympathizers, such as Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), enjoyed the progressive feasting on the Ancien Regime—especially the unity offered by shared hatred of the obviously soon to be impeached, deposed, exiled and discredited Donald J. Trump.

But revolutionary carnivores are rarely sated. Once they run out of easy hostile targets—and they have with the collapse of the Mueller hoax and all the other impeachment melodramas—they get hungry and as cannibals start to eye their own.

We have already seen that autophagy in the initial primary debates in which all the major Democratic presidential candidates—Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, Robert O’Rourke, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren—shouted out the most outlandish agendas possible in a desperate effort to ensure that no rival could possibly pose more to their left.

Poor, condemned Joe Biden renounced almost everything he once believed in and yet still was reduced metaphorically to screaming for his life on the guillotine stage that he was a revolutionary after all! Had Biden in his first debate only yelled back at his attacker, Harris, “If you really want the return of federally mandated busing of school children, then go out and run on busing and see where it gets you!”

The candidates, of course, were the cleaned-up versions of their handy Jacobin street fighters, the thugs of Antifa, the motley remnants of Occupy Wall Street, the loud ranks of Black Lives Matter, and the assorted provocateurs who inhabit the activist groups and most college campuses, and who do the dirty work of kicking incorrect enemies out of restaurants, stalking conservatives, beating up journalists, shouting down speakers, swarming the homes of incorrect politicians and newscasters, and taking over coffee shops and intersections.

All the while, Pelosi, Schumer, and a host of old Democrats enjoyed the new energy that was directed against the evil Trump. To revolutionary cheers, one million illegal aliens crossed the border in the first six months of 2019. The media-leftwing-celebrity nexus sought to devour Trump through impeachment, law suits, evocation of the Emoluments Clause, the Logan Act, and the 25th Amendment, the unleashing of special counsel Mueller, the pathetic coup attempts of a discredited FBI, and the circus of Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti, Michael Cohen, and Jeffrey Epstein.

Once all these efforts to destroy Trump failed, so too waned superficial revolutionary solidarity. After all, the subtext of the new revolutionary progressive party was that a changing demography brought on by open borders, a new diversity chauvinism, and the suicidal tendencies of a supposed shrinking, embittered and white working class had permanently changed America. A series of identity candidates would both follow in the footsteps of Barack Obama, and also make him look tame in comparison, in the way the Black Panthers, H. Rap Brown, and Stokely Carmichael once used to mock the “appeasement” of Martin Luther King, Jr.

In the manner that Robespierre and his Committee of Public Safety guillotined naïve Girondists, so too, “the Squad” of Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez(D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) are now damning Nancy Pelosi as a racist. No matter that just hours earlier Pelosi herself had called Donald Trump a racist who wanted to turn away all nonwhite people at the border simply because they were nonwhite.

Again, Pelosi is old, and in the way, and is a target of her party’s quick adoption of her own identity politics. What were the Pelosi generation, the left-wing journalist crowd, and the professoriate thinking when they harangued nonstop about the forthcoming irrelevancy of supposed old white dinosaurs? That thereby, such woke white liberals somehow had purchased exemptions from the very executioners whom they had helped create?

What is the next wrinkle in this revolutionary trajectory to the guillotine? Pelosi, now playing the role of a Thermidor, hinted the other day that the Squaders, for all their social media savvy and obsessions with fame, power, and influence, still represent just a few thousand constituents in gerrymandered minority leftwing districts. She reminded her party that they bring to the table no more than four votes in a House of Representatives of 435 members.

Pelosi is on to something, given that white and especially Jewish left-wingers are starting to sense that the Squad and their followers consider them ultimately as hostiles in the manner Jacobins redefined all the opponents of the Bourbons as insufficiently revolutionary and equally deserving of decapitation.

Just as the Jacobin agenda was nihilistic, so are the fantasies of the adolescent Ocasio-Cortez and her crowd. No sane American would ever willingly embrace the ludicrous Green New Deal (designed not so much to address climate change as to impose government-ordered redistribution), the abolition of the Electoral College, the end of ICE, extending the franchise to 16-year-olds, cancellation of college debt, free tuition, reparations, a wealth tax, or legal infanticide.

Mostly, the Jacobins frighten the old guard progressives. They empower Donald Trump. They make what is left of the NeverTrump Republicans look even more ridiculous. Ultimately, they are racists, who self-define by their appearance and their ethnic backgrounds in an ever more integrated, multiracial country in which the effort to transcend those Neanderthal considerations was largely the story of the last century.

Where will it all lead?

To the metaphorical collective Democratic guillotine—until and unless some sane Democrat stands ups and says no more—and learns that the revolutionary mob might prefer to guillotine the guillotiners.

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Photo Credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

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About Victor Davis Hanson

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, and is the 2023 Giles O'Malley Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Public Policy, Pepperdine University. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush, and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson is also a farmer (growing almonds on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author of the just released New York Times best seller, The End of Everything: How Wars Descend into Annihilation, published by Basic Books on May 7, 2024, as well as the recent  The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump, and The Dying Citizen.