Victor Davis Hanson: Democrats’ ‘California Credo’ for America Is a ‘Road Warrior’ Vision

Homelessness, California Richard VogelAssociated Press
Richard VogelAssociated Press

Thursday’s Democrat presidential debate showcased a “California credo” that has wrought “Road Warrior” conditions in parts of the Golden State, remarked Victor Davis Hanson, senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University.

Hanson offered his comments on Thursday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Tonight with host Rebecca Mansour and special guest host John Hayward.

Hanson described California as “America’s first Third-World state” in a June-published column at National Review Online:

Third World symptomologies are predictably corrupt government, unequal or nonexistent applicability of the law, two rather than three classes, and the return of medieval diseases. Third World nations suffer from high taxes and poor social services, premodern infrastructure and utilities, poor transportation, tribalism, gangs, and lack of security.

Another chief characteristic of a Third World society is the official denial of all of the above, and a vindictive, almost hysterical state response to anyone who points out those obvious tragedies. Another is massive out-migration. Residents prefer almost any country other than their own. Think Somalia, Venezuela, Cuba, Libya, or Guatemala.

“California, I think, might be our first third world state, depending on where you go in California,” said Hanson.


Hanson reflected on changes in California he has observed across his lifetime residency in the coastal state.

“I used to mow lawns in Palo Alto when I was a graduate student,” recalled Hanson, “and I never saw people defecate on the street as I have on University Avenue. When I was there, I never saw the types of warnings about hepatitis A or tuberculosis. My spouse teaches at community college, and she’s had two warnings that students in her class have tuberculosis. I don’t remember that growing up in California.”

Hanson added, “I rode a bike not too long ago and I was bitten, and I don’t remember all the dogs on my venue — I live in southwest Fresno County — having no licenses and no vaccinations, and the owners don’t speak English. That’s something that didn’t occur. We had large numbers of people from Mexico, but they came here legally. They spoke English. They were assimilated and integrated. So in a lot of ways we’re going backwards, and yet that’s called progress. I don’t see it as progress.”

A deteriorating quality of life resulting from poor governance has driven an exodus of millions of Californians to other states, noted Hanson.

“We have the highest income tax rates,” said Hanson of California. “We have the highest gas tax rates. We have among the highest sales tax. Our schools [and] our infrastructure is in the bottom ten percent. I don’t remember one out of every three people being admitted to a hospital suffering from diabetes in California. When I was growing up we didn’t have two or three dialysis clinics in every single little town. We have an epidemic of health problems and yet the money to address that is such that we can’t spend it on infrastructure.”

As Californians flee profligate politicians’ parasitism to other states, California’s Democrat-run state government reacts with amplified taxation and control, explained Hanson. About 115,000 Californians supply about half of the state’s income tax revenues, he added, with approximately five to six million Californians having left the state in recent years.

Hanson described Democrats’ prerogative of “diversity” as increasing social fragmentation in California. “When you have 27 percent of the state that was not born in the United States, it’s not necessarily ‘diversity is our strength,'” he commented. “The strength of the country is unity, and it’s very hard to have unity if [immigrants] are getting an opposite message that your host country that accepted everybody is somehow racist, sexist, nativist, homophobic – you name it — and owes the immigrant something. We’ve reversed the traditional calculus that makes the melting pot work. I’m not optimistic.”

California’s politicians are disconnected and contemptuous of those they rule, stated Hanson.

“If I tell them that the high school I used to go has metal detectors and you can get killed there, they don’t want to talk about it,” said Hanson of California’s political and social elites. “They do not want to discuss unionization [or] the curriculum. They do not want to discuss vouchers or charter schools because their kids are all in prep schools in the Bay Area.”

Hanson went on, “When I hear somebody like Nancy Pelosi or Gavin Newsom or Dianne Feinstein or any of those Bay Area politicians lecture me on being illiberal, and all the things that they think are great for California, I know that they’re not telling the truth because they never put their kids in public schools. I put all three of mine [in public schools]. They live behind walls. They don’t want to be around the other. They don’t want to associate with them unless they’re maids or gardeners. They don’t live with them. They don’t go to PTA with them. They don’t work side-to-side with them. They don’t treat them as equal. Yet in a weird psychological mechanism, they blast this middle class — the deplorables, the bitter clingers, the irredeemables — as racists, or white supremacists, or whatever, and these people have had enough and they’re leaving.”

“A lot of middle-class Mexican-American people are getting really angry [and] leaving,” added Hanson. They don’t like being patronized.”

Mansour and Hanson discussed the latest Democrat presidential debate. “I was watching the Democratic debate tonight, and what you hear up on that stage is pretty much the California credo.”

“People are leaving California to get away from the craziness,” noted Mansour. “It starts out here and moves its way east. We are the petri dish in California. We’re like the Democratic Party’s petri dish. What we’re hearing in that 2020 debate among the Democrats is basically the California agenda, the Californization of the entire Democratic Party: free health care for illegal aliens, totally open borders, completely decriminalized immigration, green politics run amok, high taxes, confiscatory gun laws, did I miss anything? This is the agenda they want for the whole country.”

“Not only do they like private jets, they have no care what the 99 freeway is like between Delano and Visalia because they’ve never been on it,” said Hanson of California’s Democrat leadership. “If they would go over there tonight they would see that there are only two lanes in each direction. It’s unchanged from 1960, and it’s Road Warrior. It’s deadly. It’s the most deadly highway in the United Sates per mile driven, and that’s in California. It could be easily solved, but their solution for that is high-speed rail. That’s because they’re not conversant with what most people’s lives are like, and you saw that in the debate with this progressive doctrine.”

Hanson concluded, “The Democratic Party in California is a party of the very, very rich and the very, very poor. They romanticize the poor that are never around, and they despise the middle class. They despise the consumer-capitalist caste of the middle class. They despise their supposed lack of culture, and it’s really a weird group of progressive elites that we’ve created in the state.”

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