Victor Davis Hanson: ‘California is very hard to screw up’

Dec. 6, 2012

By John Seiler

“California is very hard to screw up,” noted author Victor Davis Hanson told about 130 California business and community leaders Wednesday. He spoke at the Freedom Forum held at the Fairmont Hotel in Newport Beach. The event was co-sponsored by the Pacific Research Institute, CalWatchDog.com’s parent think tank, and the Lincoln Club of Orange County.

A classics scholar now at the Hoover Institution, Hanson comes from generations of farmers in Selma. He said the city now is at least 96 percent Hispanic. His observations there formed the basis of his controversial 2003 book, “Mexifornia: A State of Becoming.”

“California farm exports are $19 billion a year,” he said. “Farming is at an all-time high.”

As to immigration, he said, “Illegal immigration will stop, the natural melting-pot engine will assert itself” by absorbing the immigrants into the general American community and culture, “and things will get better.”

He pointed out that “the California budget last year” of $86 billion “is the same as the budget in 2006. Unlike the federal government, the state government can’t print money.” It has to balance its budget, more or less.

However, he lamented, “People are leaving who shouldn’t be leaving,” meaning working people who pay taxes.

National issues

On national issues, he dissected the Republican defeat a month earlier. He noted that Latinos gave only about a third of their vote to Mitt Romney. But they gave about the same amount to Ronald Reagan in 1984, even though he spearheaded immigration reform during that era that resulted in the 1986 amnesty program that normalized the status of millions of illegal immigrants.

“The GOP needs to engage the Latino vote,” he urged. Republicans, he warned, appear “not so much anti-Latino as anti-working class.”

He said he admired Romney and both presidents from the Bush family. But he noted that, along with Meg Whitman, the billionaire who lost the race for California governor in 2010, the Bushes and Romney are elevated too far above working-class voters to identify with them.

He said things were different for Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who won two elections for governor. Arnold reportedly is worth $700 million (at least before his divorce). But Arnold’s persona “as a movie star and immigrant” garnered 45 percent of the Latino vote.

Ignoring California

He criticized GOP presidential candidates for looking at California only as a place to get campaign donations. Even if California is unlikely to vote Republican in a presidential election any time soon, he still urged candidates to come here and meet our people. “They need to go to Bakersfield and engage people.” They should point out how “too many regulations” are killing jobs for the middle class.

He’s optimistic about the crop of potential candidates looking toward the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. He specifically mentioned candidates he thinks would have connections with working Americans: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

“I was a fan of Chris Christie,” the New Jersey governor, he quipped, “But I’m not anymore. Because I’m petty and I hold grudges.” Christie famously embraced President Obama during Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, which some conservative critics say helped the president gain votes nationally.

On the immigration question itself, he said Republicans should offer a two-part plan: First, a Dream Act variation that would grant amnesty to those already here. Second, totally sealing off the border so immigration is limited to legal immigration.

He also urged Republicans to play hardball with Democrats. If Democrats want taxes, then their wish should be granted — as taxes on liberal bastions. He said that, during World War II, a 50 cent surtax was placed on movie tickets.

He didn’t extrapolate. But that would be the equivalent to about a $5 surtax today.

Obama’s second term

Hanson said that, like all recent presidents, Obama faces a tough second term. Drawing on his classical background, he said that the president has what the ancient Greeks called “hubris” (extreme pride or arrogance) which inevitably brings about “nemesis” (the spirit or retribution).

Hanson said that Obama has cultivate class warfare to a degree not seen since the 1930s, in which achievers who earn more are envied by those getting government benefits. However, the “technocratic elite,” such as Obama and his cabinet, are exempt from this envy, even though they are exceedingly well off themselves.

He said hubristic actions by Obama include the blanket amnesty to illegal aliens granted without the approval of Congress; and trying to shut down a Boeing plant in South Carolina because it’s a right-to-work state that unions don’t like.

Nemesis will give Republicans opportunities to make gains before the 2014 mid-term election and the 2016 presidential election.

 

 

9 comments

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  1. Phil
    Phil 6 December, 2012, 11:37

    Com’n Victor, The Dems are having no problem screwing up this great state.
    You say “by absorbing the immigrants into the general American community and culture, and things will get better.” So people left their country because it was inferior and now a unbalanced amount of them are settling here and they are bringing their same culture and ideals that made their country a worse place to live. This is a good thing? Won’t that just make more of them want to come here? Go back and read your “Two Californias” article.
    As for the dems. getting the mexican vote this is simple, they are willing to ignore the law of the land and give up the store so they can accrue more power.
    “He pointed out that “the California budget last year” of $86 billion…” Well Victor take a look now; The new budget is $91.5 billion in general fund appropriations. Spending from special funds and bond funds brings the total size of the budget to $142.6 billion.
    “he said Republicans should offer a two-part plan: First, a Dream Act variation that would grant amnesty to those already here. Second, totally sealing off the border so immigration is limited to legal immigration”
    You have this backwards. This will not work, (it was tried during the Reagan administration) We have to seal the border first, or have something like e verify working first. Other wise they we will give amnesty for millions and NOTHING else will be done. Been there done that!

    Reply this comment
  2. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 6 December, 2012, 12:10

    This article reminds me of why I am no fan of Victor Davis Hanson.

    “Illegal immigration will stop, the natural melting-pot engine will assert itself” by absorbing the immigrants into the general American community and culture, “and things will get better.”

    This is the worst sort of delusional thinking. Why would illegal immigration stop when the ruling elite of both parties prefer open borders and the Latin American masses live in such desperate squalor.

    “The GOP needs to engage the Latino vote,”

    Yes, but what on earth could the GOP do to get the Latino vote. The hugely popular Reagan gave them amnesty and they still didn’t vote for him. Immigrants today aren’t like the immigrants of a hundred years ago. They want free stuff, lots of free stuff, and the Dems will always be bolder and more aggressive at buying votes with other people’s money.

    “He said he admired Romney and both presidents from the Bush family”

    In other words he admires super rich, elitist, big government loving, deficit spending, warmongering, loser Republicans who can’t open their mouths without embarrassing themselves and turning their party into an irrelevant joke.

    “He also urged Republicans to play hardball with Democrats. If Democrats want taxes, then their wish should be granted — as taxes on liberal bastions”

    The Retardpublicans are too gutless to try this and too politically weak to make it happen. Does anyone really think old Crybaby Boehner has the testicular fortitude to pull that off. How did they get to this point? By following the likes of Bush the Elder, Bush the Younger and Romney.

    This is why no one should take Victor Davis Hanson seriously. Ever.

    Reply this comment
  3. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 6 December, 2012, 12:14

    Hard to screw up CA? Oh no–it was easy. The 1986 Amnesty Law made it illegal to hire illegals. Oh-oh!

    Reply this comment
  4. jimmydeeoc
    jimmydeeoc 6 December, 2012, 17:40

    Phil and Dys….

    You both make good points. VDH is no lover of Obama and points out the hypocrisies of the left as well as anyone, but he does seem to suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder at times. (Phil – you are right – his comments here fully contradict “Two Californias”.)

    I think he’s letting his nostalgia get to him, as his family started farming near Selma 120 years ago. Selma’s never coming back.

    Reply this comment
  5. Hondo
    Hondo 7 December, 2012, 08:55

    I’ve read VDH faithfully for a couple years. I think he is confounded and confused by the last election. He didn’t see it coming. I did. He thought the amerikan voters would see through the blinding haze of Obama’s 95% negative campaign. He ignored the hopelessly out classed and incompetent Romney campaign.
    He is profoundly wrong Kali can’t be screwed up. California has more ways to create more jobs and economic activity than any place on earth. There is no reason there should not be full employment in the state. But it is lurching along at a depression level 10% for years. Many dem run states have much better employment rates.
    The state has been run into the ground. All you fine liberals here, please tell my why this state is so bad off while the rest of the country is doing better.
    Hondo….

    Reply this comment
  6. Greg in LA
    Greg in LA 7 December, 2012, 10:08

    I use to think that VDH was pretty smart. I’m not so sure that I think that any more.
    I’m sorry to say this, but I think VDH seems so depressed that he is starting to give-up.

    Who can blame him for being depressed, If I lived in Selma (96% Mexican), I would be depressed also. I can not imagine living in an American city where only 4% of the population is ethnically American!

    Bottom line amnesty of any kind only further marginalizes Americans, and the American government is not yet serious about border enforcement. Deals like the Dream act and partial amnesty in exchange for some type of work or border enforcement are just tricks and Trojan horses.

    Reply this comment
  7. Ted Steele, Janitor
    Ted Steele, Janitor 7 December, 2012, 17:12

    Greg in LA says:
    December 7, 2012 at 10:08 am
    If I lived in Selma (96% Mexican), I would be depressed also. I can not imagine living in an American city where only 4% of the population is ethnically American!

    Greg—- How is your statement above not a racist statement? These so called “Mexicans” who live in Selma can’t do anything about being “Mexican” (whatever that means). What is it about their status as “Mexican” that you dislike so much? You seem to want to live around “ethnic Americans”– What does that mean?????

    I am sure I am somehow misunderstanding you……..right?

    Reply this comment
  8. Greg in LA
    Greg in LA 7 December, 2012, 18:05

    “What is it about their status as “Mexican” that you dislike so much?”

    The noise, the garbage, the crime, the poverty, the chaos, the failing schools, the impossibly over-crowded hospital emergency rooms, the gangs, the lack of English speakers, the racial tensions, the Hispanic politicians, the display of Mexican flags, the lowering of American wages.

    I think that list perfectly describes places like Selma.

    Reply this comment
  9. Greg in LA
    Greg in LA 7 December, 2012, 18:19

    “These so called “Mexicans” who live in Selma can’t do anything about being “Mexican””.

    Oh yes they can Ted, they can assimilate into Americans. It’s called the “melting Pot” and It’s the American way. It’s what every immigrant group has done up until now. It’s no secret that Many Mexicans and their politicians (La Raza), just don’t want it.

    Reply this comment

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