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A “New Phase” Never Seen Before: Victor Davis Hanson On What Trump Indictment Means For America


A “New Phase” Never Seen Before: Victor Davis Hanson On What Trump Indictment Means For America

Authored by Terri Wu and Jan Jekielek via The Epoch Times,

With last week’s indictment of former President Donald Trump, the country has entered an unsettling new era characterized by chronic dysfunction, according to prominent conservative historian Victor Davis Hanson.

The New York grand jury’s indictment of Trump, the first ever of a current or former president, is “going to open up a new phase we’ve never seen before in the country that political differences are going to be adjudicated out by warring prosecutors,” Hanson told The Epoch Times on April 3.

Hanson, a Hoover Institution fellow, in the interview, shared his perspective on the left’s strategy to undermine the republic, the simmering anger of half of the country, and the best way Trump could react to the criminal probes targeting him.

On March 30, a Manhattan grand jury voted to indict Trump in relation to the payment of hush money to adult film actress Stormy Daniels weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

Although the specifics of the charges will not be disclosed until the arraignment hearing on April 4, they are widely expected to include felony charges of falsifying business records. This charge would require Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to prove that Trump forged records to cover up a violation of federal campaign finance laws—a novel legal strategy that some experts believe to be high risk.

In addition to this case, Trump faces three other criminal probes. Special counsel Jack Smith is investigating Trump’s handling of classified documents, and his alleged role in interfering with the 2020 election results and the lawful transfer of power on Jan. 6, 2021. A Fulton County grand jury is also probing whether Trump unlawfully interfered with the 2020 election in Georgia.

Former US President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at Trump Tower in New York on April 3, 2023. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)


The indictment, Hanson said, has “changed politics from the popular vote, ballot, elections to legality lawfare.”

“So it’s politics by other means,” he said.

“What it means is that almost every ex-president, or maybe even every president, or official could be the target of a publicity-seeking state or local attorney that is in the political opposition.”

According to Hanson, if Republicans reciprocated what Democrats are doing, people would see House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) creating committees like the Jan. 6 panel and cherry-picking its members, and state prosecutors in red states like Florida, Utah, and Wyoming concurrently going after President Joe Biden’s family for different counts.

“The whole country would be dysfunctional,” he said.

In an essay published on April 2, Hanson wrote that the left knew that if Republicans matched tit-for-tat the approaches of some Democrats, “then the republic would quickly descend into a spiral of illegality and chaos analogous to what ended the late Roman Republic.”

“That fact is well known to the new hard-left Democratic Party. So it has assumed the role of the spoiled teen who feels he has a blank check of lawless behavior that his parents would not dare emulate, given that for adults to do so would destroy the family,” he wrote.

‘Silent Revolution’ Has Been Diffusing Anger

The Trump indictment comes at a time when many Americans are already discontented with the state of the country and are channeling this into a “silent revolution,” according to Hanson.

“Half the country is disconnected,” he said, citing examples of people turning away from cultural institutions for their promotion of progressive ideologies.

People don’t watch the Oscars, the Grammys, or the Tonys, he said. NBA viewership has plummeted, he added. The 2023 NBA All-Star Game had fewer than 5 million people on average, representing a 27 percent decrease from the 2022 season, or the biggest single-season decline since 2000.

People are angry that now whenever white people are mentioned, it’s almost always in a disparaging way, he noted.

However, their frustration has been diffused by what Hanson called “a silent revolution.”

“When people get very angry about what’s going on, they just move around the country, or they go put their kids in Christian schools, or they homeschool,” he said.

For example, according to U.S. Census data, California lost 700,000 people between April 2020 and July 2022.

“We’re seeing the biggest pushback to the left in our history, but it’s just not violent,” he said.

“It’s people—millions of them—all leaving these cities.”

This silent pushback will leave a lasting impact.

“The big news in the next five years is that [the cities] are going to be broke,” he said.

“They’re not going to be able to pay their pension funds, their budgets: Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles. It’s incredible.”

In Hanson’s view, the Trump indictment, which may be the first of more to come, has only made people angrier.

Trump’s alleged affair with Stormy Daniels occurred 16 years ago. If Trump had stayed as a real estate developer in New York, Hanson said, local prosecutors would have probably let him go. “It was only when he was a perceived political threat that [prosecutors] acted,” he said.

“It’s not symmetrical,” Hanson said, referring to the 20 potential felonies by various Democratic leaders he listed in his essay.

Yet for those potential criminal acts, “nobody said a word.”

“That’s going to get people angry. I think that’s what makes people the most angry,” he added.

But as the left keeps pushing the envelope, Hanson predicts that it will precipitate other kinds of responses.

“When you see what they’re doing at those universities … —they storm in and shout people down, I think they’re going to be shocked when they see a reaction to it. I don’t know what that reaction is going to be. But you can’t continue like that.”

(L-R) Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Former President Donald Trump (Giorgio Viera/Angela Weiss/Getty Images)

Left’s Strategy for 2024

According to Hanson, in pursuing this criminal case, the left wants Trump to gain sympathy and secure the GOP presidential nomination, because they believe he would lose in the general election. Indictments or even convictions would not disqualify Trump from running for the presidency.

“They’re not just going to indict him and convict him; They’re going to indict him, convict him, and sentence him. So, what they want to do is to really make him embarrassed,” said Hanson.

“They feel that they still have half the country, and they control the elections. They are going to slaughter him in the general election,” he said, adding that the left thinks they have a better chance to win the general election if Trump, rather than Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, was the GOP nominee.

“I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that’s what I think their logic is.”

How Trump Should React

To Hanson, Trump’s reactions are crucial at this time. The former president’s best move is to “keep calm” and not call people names, he advised.

Hanson predicted that the entire Trump base and the Republican Party would get even more enraged in the event Trump gets more indictments.

“Everybody’s supporters get angry. Pompeo, DeSantis, and they’re all, in a generic sense, going to be a beneficiary of that anger, but Trump is the one that can galvanize it because he’s the one involved,” he said.

According to Hanson, Trump’s messaging should be:

“I am a candidate for the presidency of the United States. Here is my agenda. They don’t want to talk about my agenda. All they want to do is tie me up in legal knots, so I cannot be a candidate. And this is not about what I did.

“This is about destroying the political sphere by destroying the candidate.”

Hanson recommended Trump not to call the prosecutor names or smear people. He also advised the former president not to urge people to “go out and protest” because the left would interpret this as a call to riot.

Like other analysts, Hanson thinks the indictment will help Trump in the GOP primary in the short term. Yet the long-term impact is uncertain.

According to him, in the event Trump goes “ballistic,” voters may choose DeSantis instead because they want someone who can actually effect change, rather than just yelling about it.

“But I don’t know, it depends on Trump’s reaction and how effective it is,” said Hanson, adding that Trump doesn’t want to exhaust his supporters with protracted outrage.

“Don’t get mad. Get even.”

Tyler Durden
Tue, 04/04/2023 – 16:20

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