Posted on April 18, 2023

Can We Do Anything About America’s Decline?

Victor Davis Hanson, American Greatness, April 16, 2023

Twenty-first-century America was on a trajectory of gradual decline—until it began to implode.

Was the accelerant the COVID-19 pandemic and unhinged lockdowns? Or was the catalyst the woke revolution fueled by the 2020 summer of exempted rioting, looting, arson, and violence? Or was it perhaps the deranged fixation on removing Donald Trump from the presidency and destroying the rule of law in the process? Or all that and more?

Now with the election of Joe Biden, what had been a fast-tracked decline has accelerated at such an astonishing rate we can scarcely recognize our country.

Our largest cities are becoming uninhabitable—dilapidated, dangerous, and dysfunctional. The challenge is not just rampant crime, but the realization that if you, the citizen, are stabbed, shot, or beaten up on the street, the perpetrators may well be exempt from most punishments. And the victim either will be forgotten in his misery or, indeed, blamed for bringing such violence upon himself.


To have a “border problem,” one must have a border. The United States has no southern border.

Upwards of 7 million illegal entries since the Biden inauguration are proof enough of that tragedy. Mexico brags that 40 million have come into the United States. It urges them to vote Democratic. And it relies on still more illegal entries to ensure yearly increases in its current $60 billion in remittance income sent from its expatriates in the United States. The donors apparently grow fonder of Mexico—the more they are safely distant from it.


Abroad, our allies and neutrals are distancing themselves from America—France, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, India, Turkey, South Korea—on the Ukraine War, China, the dollar as the global currency, and our popular culture.


America must reform the entire Pentagon process of spending and appropriations. It must end woke and identity politics, ideological indoctrination, and return to a meritocracy. It should prohibit retiring generals and admirals from revolving into defense contractor boards and lobbyists. It should finally enforce the Uniform Code of Military Justice that prohibits active and retired high-ranking officers from publicly attacking their current commander-in-chief. It should charge leakers with felonies and prosecute perjury. Had the government done that with Andrew McCabe, John Brennan, James Comey, and James Clapper the accruing deterrence would have discouraged others with lower profiles.

Biden is on schedule to run up a $2 trillion annual deficit, adhering to the Bush, Obama, and Trump legacy of unfettered spending. In Biden’s case, he insanely printed over $4 trillion at a time when labor participation rates were already in decline, COVID-suppressed demand was returning, and transportation and production interruptions were reducing supply. He raised taxes, increased regulations, cut projected increases in gas and oil production, and canceled energy projects. The result was the highest inflation in 40 years, near-record energy costs, soaring interest rates, the largest modern percentage of debt to GDP at 130 percent, the greatest debt in our history at $33 trillion, and stagnant GDP. All that and more prompt the current Chinese-led effort to dethrone the dollar as the world’s currency.


Never have Americans spent more on K-12 and higher education and never have they received less in return. The education industry is woke and nonmeritocratic. Research is diverted, sidetracked, and polluted by ideological commissars, endangering the U.S. lead in science, math, engineering, and the professions. Even scientists have become deductive, starting out with a preconceived woke conclusion they feel will win influence, grants, and notoriety and then scrambling to warp evidence to fit it.

The solutions are straightforward. Tax university endowment income—and lots of superfluous and harmful programs will vanish.

Stop federal student loan guarantees, and soaring tuition and room-and-board costs will decline to the annual rate of inflation once universities must guarantee their own student loans.

Require universities that receive federal funds of any sort to honor existing laws from the Bill of Rights to the 1964 Civil Rights Act. That would end segregated dorms and graduations. The next time administrators at Stanford or San Francisco State either aid or ignore student efforts to shout down or disrupt speakers and suppress free expression, their institutions should quickly be fined by the U.S. government or have their federal funding yanked.

If SAT and ACT entrance tests are being abolished, then they could be rebooted as exit tests required for a bachelor’s degree analogous to a bar exam. With such minimum standards, we might ascertain what, if anything, students had learned upon graduation. {snip}


Because America is now multiracial, with untold ethnic and racial agendas, and countless and contorted collective grievances, it is impossible to sort out victimizers and victims. Junk the entire illiberal and patently illegal system of racial discrimination, and there would be an organic return to merit, and with it, race would become incidental, not essential to American identities. After 1964, it seems Orwellian that liberal institutions could continue to assign dorms by race, segregate graduations, and impose racial requisites to participate in special programs.

America’s former strength—the most transparent, accurate, and trustworthy elections in the world—have descended into its greatest liability. In the space of a mere eight years, and especially in reaction to radical political changes made under the cover of the COVID lockdown, we have gone from 70 percent of the electorate in most states voting on election day to a mere 30 percent. Yet the ballot rejection rate somehow diminished, with the flood of non-Election-Day ballots that overwhelmed accustomed audit and verification.


America is in a similar position to where it was in 1861, 1929, 1941, and 1968—only perhaps worse, given in all those cases, there was at least a president and Congress that identified and reacted to the crisis, whereas today our elected government is what caused the crisis.