Does President Donald Trump have a path to a second term? What would it take? And how have elections in America fundamentally changed?
In this episode, we sit down with classicist, historian, and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow Victor Davis Hanson.
This is American Thought Leaders, and I’m Jan Jekielek.
Jan Jekielek: Victor Davis Hanson, such a pleasure to have you back on American Thought Leaders.
Victor Davis Hanson: Thank you for having me.
Mr. Jekielek: So Victor, there’s a huge question on a number of people’s minds in America today. Not everybody’s—possibly about half the nation. Has the fate of the presidency actually been decided already? Is everything fait accompli?
Mr. Hanson: Well, I think in the computer age and the age of Silicon Valley, we’ve created this new, pseudo-scientific accuracy. So in the old days, maybe 20, 30 years ago, they had something called exit polls … and people lied as much to exit pollers as they did to regular pollers, but nevertheless, they would call elections based on what people in particular demographic said as they exited the polls. And then they learned very quickly that was not very accurate. So they didn’t really call after getting burned a few times, especially in ’76 and ’80. They didn’t really call until 30 or 40 percent.
Then the computer age came. And they said they had these sophisticated data on age, gender, income, and they began calling them and they’ve started that, and then we had something like the Nate Silver phenomenon at FiveThirtyEight, where these gurus and almost to the decimal point claim they could call an election, either by the poll before the election or on election night. And that crashed and burned in 2016. It was discredited this time around.
But nonetheless, there’s so many people invested into that methodology. We saw on Fox. Not only did Fox—take one example— call Arizona when it was still close, and is still close as we’re filming this. But they didn’t call Florida, and they didn’t call Texas, and that created a mythology or narrative that night that whatever Donald Trump might do to question the voting sanctity later on, it didn’t really matter because he’d lost his bastian in Florida and Texas, perhaps and for sure in Barry Goldwater’s Arizona.
And then remember that Fox News and CNN and all of the networks said that the Republicans were going to lose, and the Democrats were going to gain at least five seats so that their margin would widen. So there was a sense very early on in the evening that something had gone terribly wrong for the Trump campaign. The Senate was lost. The House was even more lost than it had been before. And Joe Biden was president. And all of that turned out to be either untrue or not proven to this moment.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, so what are people supposed to believe today? I mean, we’re having a kind of a foundational question here, right?
Mr. Hanson: Yeah, we are. It’s kind of an ancient question between your sensory perception, your common sense, your gut instinct, and what elites tell you. So most people have certain age-old benchmarks. When they drive down the street, and they think it’s pretty diverse, they count signs. When they look at campaigns, they see one candidate in a basement and one criss-crossing the country. When they see rallies, they see one with 40,000 people and one with nothing. And they remember, “That’s how we knew Harry Truman was going to beat Tom Dewey and that the Gallup Poll was wrong.” So it’s an age-old distrust of the pollsters. But that’s a benign interpretation.
A cynical interpretation says that in this new era that where we’ve ended Election Day as a tradition, where 80, 85 percent of the vote in some states is mail-in or it’s early voting. And that decision will be made by millions of voters before the third debate, for example, or before the Hunter Biden scandal, and how will it be made, on what criteria, if people are tuning out the last two or three weeks of the really important part of a campaign where a candidate either melts or gets emboldened? And the answer is polls.
So polls now become a very potent political weapon because they tell the voter in, let’s say, first week in October, “I wouldn’t raise money when Trump’s down 17 in Wisconsin.” “Why would you go out and vote when CNN says he’s going to lose the popular vote by 12?” Going to knock door-to-door when YouGov says that Trump has already lost, and he’s going to lose by 385 votes; Biden’s going to get in the Electoral College? So they’re very potent uses of a partisan tool.
And when you combine that with this huge 21st century money made in Wall Street and Silicon Valley, the Bloomberg fortune, the Zuckerberg fortune, the Apple fortune, the Google fortune, combined it with the power, the invasive power of Silicon Valley to cancel people, deplatform them, block ads, censor news, reorder what the order of a Google search.
Add that with these huge fortunes—Michael Bloomberg, 50 million in Ohio, maybe 100 million in Florida, 100 million spent against Lindsey Graham—you’ve got a whole new dynamic that we haven’t fully grasped the contours of. Republicans surely haven’t. They had the election [inaudible]: “Get out to vote, put a sign on your yard, go to a rally. Yeah, this is what we do.”
And the Democrats just said, “No, we have a virtual candidate. He’s a shill for a hard left, progressive agenda. The media is on board. They’re going to have scripted questions to him. He’s going to be teleprompting his answers. Any gap will be contextualized or blacked out on media. We’ll censor any ad that we find effective on the part of the Trump. And then for 25 days, 30 days, 45 days before the election, we will be getting people out to vote, mail registration, and the ballot can be mailed the same day as they were registered. And we’ll get out, we’ll have third party vote harvesters blanket”…
So it’s a whole new concept of an election. And it’s very dangerous, and we’re going to see it—we haven’t seen anything in Georgia like this, what’s going to happen on January 5, since Sherman marched through Georgia. There’s going to be a big march through Georgia. But it’s going to be Silicon Valley money and Bloomberg money and leftists and computer data analytics and pollsters. It’s going to be a nightmare because the fate of the country will hinge on those two elections.
And we’ve never seen two elections in one year in one state and runoff elections at that. And then the Senate that hinges on the decision in this one state. And the decision is not whether a moderate Republican or a moderate Democrat will switch chairs. It’s whether a hard-left majority will end the filibuster and with it, pack the court or get rid of the Electoral College and on and on.
Mr. Jekielek: I actually want to talk a little bit about Georgia and the significance of the hand count that’s now been, I guess, authorized or arranged. But before I go there, you’ve talked a little bit before about this sort of fundamental change in how the elections are run. And it’s something about how fundamentally, people in a traditional sense, would have to actively go out to vote. They would have to go and actually do something themselves as opposed to someone coming to their door and collecting, so to speak, or harvesting, to use that term. And this is just, again, a foundational shift of sorts. And I want you to dig into that a little bit more for me, please.
Mr. Hanson: We’ve reversed the concept of what it was to be an American. The Founders’ vision, we can capture it in the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the writings of everybody from Hamilton to Jefferson, diverse as they were, was that we were—Tocqueville talked about —we were rugged individuals. We were autonomous citizens. We own property most of the time. And we took it upon ourselves to guarantee our rights, which could always be taken away, with responsibilities to get out and vote, to inform yourself about the issues.
And we just assume that not everybody would do that. If they didn’t do it, it’s a free country. Live and let live. You don’t want to go to the polls, don’t go to the polls. You don’t want to look up about the issues, you just want to vote what somebody tells you. We have parameters: you can’t pay a person to vote or you can’t block them, and when we tried on the basis of race or gender, we amended those contortions.
But now what it is, it’s: “That is racist. That is class bias. And we have to bring out the voter from the woodwork. We’re not going to ask anything of the voter.” So this was the next stage of the last 20 years. We’re going to say to the voter, “There’s no such thing as an absentee ballot—there’s a mail-in ballot. You don’t have to be sick, you don’t have to miss work. Just mail it in, and maybe then you won’t suffer so much hardship by going to the polls, or you won’t get dirty looks that will bother you.”
And then we’ve gone to the next stage after that is, “We will come to your home. We will present you with a registration form that you may not have gotten. We will have you fill it out. We will take it to the registrar. We’ll be back the next day with a hand-delivered ballot, … and we will tell you how to vote. Then we will take that ballot, and we will hand it to you. And if you still are confused and you still would be so stubborn [inaudible] you wanted to vote, here are the polls. We’ll give you the polls and we’ll not just say Biden [will win] by five. We’ll say Biden has a 78.7 chance to win the election after we, Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight, have run it through 400,000 computer simulations.”
And so that’s what we’re doing. And then so we have a proverbial voter just back on the couch, just says, “What do you want me to do? Where do I put my X?” And that’s where we are. And that’s considered fair because we’ve taken every obstacle and every labor away from voting as that reveals a true America.
So we have two visions. The Founders’ [vision] was the true American is the person that takes the initiative. And when he doesn’t take the initiative, and he doesn’t get the result he likes, he will take the initiatives at some point. Otherwise, he’s not going to be a participant, and he won’t get a government that he thinks, if he’s in the majority, deserves. Or if he’s in the minority, he won’t get minority protection under democracy.
But we’ve [done] away with that. The real American is under that veneer, and we’ve got to bring him out and discover him and pamper him and massage him to vote in a way that we the elite think is in his interest. It’s a very different concept.
Mr. Jekielek: Victor, as you’re speaking, it just strikes me that this whole kind of approach, doesn’t it make it so that the group that has the better machine, so to speak, or more money pumped into that machine wins. That’s what strikes me here.
Mr. Hanson: Yeah, that is bothersome. But of course, that was always used against the Republicans, that dark Koch brothers’ money. I don’t think the word “dark money” exists anymore because it’s all on the left side. And they dropped it just as they dropped the phrase “absentee ballot.” We know from the history of America what happens when huge amounts of money flow into a particular campaign and the advertising and the warping of reality.
But that’s nothing compared to this post-modernism. We’ve never had this before where you have pollsters who do all of these analytics, and then they, in concert, create a narrative that one candidate has no chance to win, when they know their methodology is flawed because it’s flawed from the record of 2016. And they know it’s flawed. And yet they feel that the poll is not to reflect public opinion, but to change it in a predetermined way. That’s new.
But even more disturbing is that Silicon Valley, as we’re speaking right now, they’re adjudicating which type of ad will be on social media. And when Facebook has about 50 percent of the world—[a world of] 7 billion… And Twitter has about a 90 percent monopoly on its particular shortened version of social media. And when Google controls 90 percent of all the Google searches, then you can really distort reality. You can say, “Hunter Biden,” and do a Google search, and you might not find for four pages that he did anything wrong. It would probably be “rightwing conspiracy to hurt the Biden family.” Story after story after story. And that’s what we’re up against. It’s Orwellian. And I don’t know where it’s going to end.
But when you combine that with the administrative sudden shift in a time of a national pandemic and quarantine to suddenly say after 233 years of American tradition, “Oh, by the way, there is no more Election Day supremacy anymore. It’s called mail-in ballots, and we have a new word called ‘mail-in’ and ‘early voting.’ And this is what we’re going to do.” And it proved to be very conducive to the internet, Silicon Valley, and the use of money and it was sort of a perfect storm.
And I think the Republicans and conservatives had no idea. I know I didn’t. I thought that maybe it would be difficult to turn in a mail-in ballot for somebody who’d never done it before. And I thought by scaring everybody that … we were living in the age of the bubonic plague, maybe they had scared away their own voters from the polls. We were all right about that. They did, but it didn’t matter because even if you didn’t know how to fill out a mail-in ballot, there were resources available to you that you didn’t have to. Somebody could come to your home and do it for you. So this is a Brave New World we’re in.
Mr. Jekielek: I have to ask you this, again, before we sort of move on to Georgia and some other questions about prospective fraud. Is this going to actually be an issue? Is Trump actually being used as a kind of Emmanuel Goldstein here? This is just something that struck me today, frankly.
Mr. Hanson: Yes. I’ve written a couple of columns about the Three Minutes of Hate of Donald Trump. I don’t know what these cable news stations and columnists are going to do now because we know that they called George W. Bush a “Nazi” and “Mussolini,” and Bush didn’t really fight back, so it was kind of a boring topic—Michael Moore, Cindy Sheehan, out of our past. But Trump fought back, and so he made it into a gladiatorial contest and they were the spectators with their thumbs up or down. They loved it. And right after the election, which is very ironic because the Democrats were saying, we’re worried about the integrity of election. And all sides have to assume responsibility to accept the will of the people.
But that’s Orwellian because in 2016, they immediately, almost immediately, had Jill Stein on their behalf, sue three states, the key states, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, to recount and say the voting machines were “Russian collusion,” that they were tampered when they weren’t. And then we had the electors who were not supposed to vote as their individual state mandates dictated, and we had celebrities, and then we had “blow up the White House” with Madonna and all those protests on Inauguration Day, and then we went right into Mueller and Russian collusion, 25th Amendment, Emoluments Clause, Michael Cohen, impeachment, impeachment, Ukraine, Ukraine.
So yes, I’m really worried because no president has ever been systematically attacked like that. And no president has ever fought so fiercely in return. And we’ll see what happens.
Donald Trump was some kind of, I don’t know what the word is, talisman, or he was some type of touchstone where anything that he got near revealed the true essence of what we all suspected but we knew that they would never be revealed. He was a cipher, and by that, I mean, we knew that the media was biased, but we never thought Jim Rutenberg, or the New York Times, or Christiane Amanpour would say, “Yes, we are biased, and we’re biased because we have to stop Donald Trump.” We all thought that Anderson Cooper was kind of a fraud but we never thought on air, he’d say, “Why don’t you just crap on your desk.” He didn’t use that word. Or we never thought people right on the air would say, “Hands up, don’t shoot,” that fraud, that we know [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder’s Justice Department proved was wrong in Ferguson.
So he [Trump] brought people out to say and do things that we’ve never seen before. James Comey is absolutely stark raving mad right now, and he wasn’t [before]. He was always a dubious character, so was John Brennan, but my God, they’ve reduced themselves to caricatures. Hillary Clinton was always suspect. But my gosh, when she said, “I’m going to join the resistance,” and “I was cheated,” and “We should never concede the election.”
We’ve seen a new dimension of reality that Donald Trump brought about. He really tore off the curtain and said, these guys have these little gears and that Oz thing on the screen is just completely false. They’re little, tiny, mean-spirited people. That was pretty effective. I don’t know if he meant to do that, but he got them so obsessed that they became entirely unhinged.
Mr. Jekielek: It’s a very interesting situation thinking back to how the media and everybody else dealt with the Hunter Biden emails revelation. Of course, it was an October surprise. It was left that way to impact the election, most likely. However, a lot of compelling evidence was revealed via multiple sources, hard drives, email accounts and so forth, and which resulted in an unprecedented level of censorship and then self-justification of that censorship, and then, of course, the specter of Russian disinformation again. I’m asking myself, when is the specter of Russian disinformation coming back when it comes to allegations of voter fraud now?
Mr. Hanson: There’s a Russian under every bed now. Quite ironic that we were told that America had lost its mind because in 2016, it voted for a supposedly corrupt, supposedly racist, and supposedly family crime syndicate that colluded with Russia. All of that turned out to be false, but it’s antitheses in 2020, that you had a corrupt Biden family, and anytime he went off script and ad-libbed, he said something racist, from “You ain’t black,” or “Hey, junkie,” [or] “Hey, cokehead,” to an African-American reporter. And I could go on and on if pressed.
And then he was not only corrupt, the Biden family, but also racist, but also extremely unkind. He was saying things [such as] “Nazi-like” and “I’ll take you behind the gym and beat you up, Donald Trump,” and all sorts of corn pop stories. The crudity was a much greater degree, believe it or not, than Donald Trump. So that was all the result of the media that they had created this monstrous Trump and then they had a reality to work with, and they completely distorted on the case of Biden.
And then you would have never thought if you came from Mars and landed in America in August 2020 that one enfeebled candidate was getting up in the morning and campaigning for an hour by remote computer assistant visual screens, and he was talking off a computer and the questions he usually knew in advance, and he still couldn’t do it. And his team then put him to bed and he wasn’t able to go out, or if he was, he had to sleep for a number of hours before he could make a nocturnal appearance, while the other person, roughly septuagenarian, the same age, was having these huge rallies.
And you had one candidate who was terrified, given his age, of the virus and was in complete lockdown; you had the other candidate who got the virus, and was told that a man of his age and girth would be seriously ill, he’d be on a ventilator, you’ll have post-viral fatigue, you’ll have heart problems, and he got over it in basically five days.
All of that was the reality, but that was not what the voters saw. And I can tell you they didn’t because I’ve talked to some of them. They have no idea about this true story of Donald Trump, that he took enormous risk but he had to as president, that he took experimental drugs that were very untested, and didn’t know the connections. All they knew is that he was reckless and he was a super spreader, that’s what they were told. Period.
And if you go out in Los Angeles on Election Eve, or San Francisco, when tens of thousands of people are sharing wine with each other, same bottle, no mask, no hand sanitizer, that’s perfectly normal. And if Gavin Newsom says that two weeks from now, you can’t have more than three different families at your Thanksgiving gathering, you have to check your bathroom and have it sanitized every 15 or 20 minutes, and you have to wear a mask, and it has to be outside in November. Then you can see why people are just bewildered.
It’s like “Animal Farm” that the rules on the barn change. All animals are equal on Monday and some animals are more equal than others. All outdoor gatherings are forbidden but some outdoor gatherings are more equal than others. That’s where we are right now.
Mr. Jekielek: On this media question, you know a great number of Americans just simply don’t trust the corporate media or the legacy media, I don’t know how how you call them. Is this a trust that can ever be earned back?
Mr. Hanson: No, I don’t think it can. I think that most people find a way by hit-or-miss to find out what’s happening. They turn on talk radio, they go on certain blogs [that] they know how to navigate to, they have email chain letters, they download podcasts or YouTubes. So far, not a lot of that’s been censored, but the idea that you’re going to have a network anchor, and he’s going or she’s going to address the nation, and she’s going to resonate wisdom and sobriety, be sober and judicious, disinterested, and win the respect—that’s gone. Nobody believes that.
They’re basically celebrities, most of them in the mainstream media. They think they’re celebrities but they have very little erudition, common sense. They’re fish in a very isolated little pond and they swim with each other. Sometimes they get into government, they go back out. Sometimes they’re in university, little billets as sinecures, and they come back to a media. And they go the same journalism schools, if they do that. They have the same standards and they all want to be liked. And the left controls the culture, the academic world, celebrity culture, Hollywood, professional sports foundations, and that’s what they worry about. They don’t worry about the 52 percent of the people who are their customers.
It’s kind of a crisis that the left is insidious because you can nominate almost any conservative justices and 50 percent of the time, they will be lowered into becoming progressive, whether it was John Paul Stevens, or Harry Blackmun, or Earl Warren, or I think now, John Roberts. Or you can have any standard bearing media that says they’re conservative. Weekly Standard goes defunct because it goes liberal, the Drudge Report flips over. There’s a big contention now with Fox News. It never goes in the other direction is what I’m saying, because these insidious forces of culture are so powerful that people want to be considered cool, or neat, or liked, or winners, and that insidious pressure just wears people down, I guess. They have no sense of who they are.
Mr. Jekielek: Victor, I want to follow up on this a little bit before we finish, but now I want to jump into this big question that’s on a lot of our viewers minds. There’s a lot of contentions of election irregularities, election fraud, and there’s recounts at least one hand count going on in Georgia. What is the status as we speak of this? Is there some kind of a reality where Donald Trump can still win the election?
Mr. Hanson: Yes. He has a pathway but I think there’s a typology of approaches. So one is for him to win, he needs momentum. I think North Carolina is in the process of being called. Donald Trump won that. So basically, the math [is] that he has to win everything that he won in 2016 and right now, in the south, if he wins Georgia and Arizona, he’ll do that. And then he can lose Michigan and Wisconsin that he won last time, but he has to win Pennsylvania. OK. So what’s the status then?
In one typology, forget the charges of fraud, forget anything, and not that they didn’t occur but they’re very close, Arizona and Georgia. And I think Donald Trump will come within 5000 votes either way and then there’ll probably be a recout. If it’s a hand recount which is promised in Georgia, I think he’ll probably win that. I’m not sure, but it’ll be very close in Arizona. If he were to win those, that would create momentum along with North Carolina and people would say, “You see! You see! They called Arizona and he won,” or “He won Georgia in a recount,” and all eyes and all resources would be focused on Pennsylvania.
And there it’s a little bit trickier because there’s two approaches. One is, was there voter fraud? So far, the Republicans have filled their airwaves, talk shows, everything with, “Look at this guy who’s 90 [years old]. He voted and he doesn’t even live in Pennsylvania,” or “This woman died 10 years ago and voted,” but they’re anecdotal. They’re not systematic, where we don’t say, “And this person represents 10,000 votes like this.” That evidence has not yet been adduced. Or there’s a computer glitch in Michigan which is really suspicious, transferring votes electronically away from Trump, but it’s the same software being replicated in every county and therefore, can you find one more or one more— What I’m getting at, Jan, is for these anecdotes to be powerful, there has to be a calculus in which they represent a majority vote, in the end for Donald Trump by some mathematical analysis.
If you say, Wisconsin has almost 89 percent turnout, and we all went to bed with Donald Trump at a 150,000 lead, and he ended up 20,000 back because the most popular candidate prior to this election had been Barack Obama, very charismatic candidate in a purple-blue state, and he only got 75. Well, that’s damning evidence but it’s not conclusive, unless you can show the actual [vote]. So that has to be adjudicated and so Republicans have to go the next step.
They proved that people cheat now and cheat to an inordinate degree, but they have to finish that work by saying, “And this cheating led to these many votes.” So that’s half of Pennsylvania’s struggle. If you lose that half, then you rest on the other half, and that says that in the U.S. Constitution, in Article II, that the states shall determine the parameters of voting and national elections for senators, representatives, etc. But it says [the judicial branch], as it sees fit, can intercede, and we know that they do whether it’s universal suffrage or 18-year-old vote, but otherwise, it’s the legislators. It doesn’t say the judges, it doesn’t say the bureaucrats.
So when you had this rush to mail-in voting, remember that was a “never waste a crisis” mantra from everybody, from Hillary to Gavin Newsom, that this lockdown gave enormous latitude to change the way we do things to favor progressive agendas. [In] any case, when we went into that mode, people started freelancing in Pennsylvania. They knew it was going to be the key state as it was in 2016. And so what did they do? They changed the voting laws. Has been passed by the legislature. [In] particular, they said [that] you really didn’t have to have a ballot in on election night. Think of that. So after the vote was over, I guess you could vote, and then post-mark it, and if it didn’t arrive in time, it was OK. And so the Supreme Court should have intervened, and they didn’t. And now, Judge Alito has put a stay, and so then we go to the next and final stage.
If the Supreme Court wants to intervene and says, “Pennsylvania violated the U.S. Constitution, and all of the laws that were passed as they should have been by the legislature are in effect, and all of the modulations and machinations that were added by non-constitutional means are now inert, then we’re throwing out all of those ballots, and only count…” And we don’t know how many there are. But they could be more than 70,000, and we don’t know how they’re going to break down. Are they military ballots, provisional ballots, which districts? So that’s where we are. But that’s a windy explanation that we’re far from having a solution yet and we’ll have to wait.
Mr. Jekielek: This is another question. In a situation where a significant portion of the country believes that Joe Biden is the president-elect and to the point where leaders from around the world—not all of them, of course—they’re already congratulating and so forth. Does that have an impact on what the Supreme Court would actually do?
Mr. Hanson: Absolutely. Supreme Court justices are humans. So every day that we go on and Joe Biden is talking to foreign leaders … This is exactly why Michael Flynn purportedly was surveilled because he was in a transition talking to the Russian ambassador. Well, Joe Biden just went beyond that. He has no qualms. He’s talking to foreign leaders. He’s not even in the transition yet. And so if there is such a thing as a Logan Act—I don’t think there is for practical purposes, but if there were and Democrats said there was in 2016—then he’s violated it.
But his point is, I’m going to be president. I’m going to pick cabinet members. I’m going to pick transitional officials. I’m going to be on the airwaves, and that’s a fait accompli. And now let’s see the Supreme Court try to stop me because instead of adjudicating a constitutional question, let’s see if they have the guts to overthrow a presidency that’s already in power de facto. And they’re putting enormous pressure on the Supreme Court. And they’re trying to win public opinion.
And Donald Trump has a legal problem to get a fair vote, but he also has a political problem. Every day that he doesn’t get massive evidence or a win in Georgia or Arizona, then the American public shrugs and says, I guess Biden is president. And remember that the media is not talking about Hunter Biden, or any of these things that are very critical. So I think Donald Trump’s going to have to—if he wants a chance—he’s got to speed up his his pressure on these states to finish their voting. If there’s a need for a recount, necessary, find it and get his political, legal and data teams coordinated. So you have a czar. And he comes on everyday, just like the COVID team, and he has a chart. He says, “Here is what we’re doing in Wisconsin. We found that all of these anecdotes resulted in so many votes. We think they’re going to be here.” And then you have the computer guy says, “You know what, this particular random, automatic voting and this type of software has a problem here in Georgia or Wisconsin. It’s had a problem in these other states. It’s not reliable, and we have data to prove it. And we have data to prove how many votes were miscounted.”
And then you have a person who’s a political czar, political person, and he says, “Joe Biden is violating not just the traditions that you cannot claim victory until the electors choose you. And they have to be picked once the states have been certified. They haven’t even been certified yet, the accurate vote, but he’s violating what he said on his first campaign when he was out campaign debate. When people ask him directly, ‘Will you claim victory? When will you do it? If the media or somebody…” [He replied:] ‘I will not claim victory until the votes are certified by the individual states.’ He didn’t keep that promise. But Trump needs that coordination and the czar and these grandees to to get his strategy. And so far, it’s been outsourced and disjointed. It’s got to be unified and focused.
Mr. Jekielek: So Victor, what is the significance of the manual count, the hand count in Georgia, which was just authorized?
Mr. Hanson: Well, the idea is that for all the sophistication of the 21st century, these computers no one really knows their reliability. They know they can be rapid, if used properly. But there’s two issues here. One is are they used properly? And that is they’re so sophisticated, and the number of people who know how to use them are so small. Are they operated properly? Is the data being transmitted through cyberspace? Is it subject to hacking? Is it subject to disinformation? We don’t know. Because it’s a level of sophistication that requires an esoteric expertise. These are not the old, you know, punch your hole IBM vote counters of the past. And the second is that there are enough reasonable people that when you go in and get these ballots, you sign your name, and the ballot itself can be hand-counted.
So think about it for a minute what that means. If you’re hand counting the ballots, that means we have no confidence in the computer age anymore. And we’re going to count these ballots by hand. But remember what that does, that takes out one level of error, the transmission of knowledge from the mark on your, you know, your pin or whatever or the hole or whatever you use to the computer. It does not take out the level of potential bad behavior of actually taking the ballot and destroying it—the hand counted ballot. Maybe if somebody got 1000 ballots and took it. So that was to be corrected by pollster observers.
So what we’re going to ask ourselves are, can we count the hand ballots? Do they jive with a computer count? Which one is superior? How do we adjudicate that? Usually the recounted one is. And then do we have pollsters that can justify or guarantee or assure us that the ballots that we have in our physical possession represent the actual number of voters? We’ll see. It’s a very complicated thing to do. And I think it really begs the question, do we really want to have mail-in balloting and early balloting rather than just absentee 10 or 15%? Why can’t we just go and have poll watchers and lots of voting machines and lots of here’s my signature, here’s my address, here’s the date on my stub and that gets filed and that can be compared. For some reason the Democrats watered all of those requirements down.
Mr. Jekielek: Victor, any further thoughts on the status of where we’re at with the potential of voting irregularities and fraud and so forth?
Mr. Hanson: I think we could say that generally, the more people that vote—and this was a record turnout—the more that people don’t turn out in person, the more they mail in a ballot, the more a third party, which used to be illegal in most states harvested that ballot, the more pollsters have preconditioned the mentality of the voter for a particular reality that’s not based on data, and the more that states are called early in the evening by the network news to further distort the mentality or the intention of the voter or the formulation of an election night narrative, [the more these things occurred] the greater chance for fraud.
And so the Republicans’ argument is, why do all of these criteria break against us? Why didn’t some pollsters say, “Donald Trump’s gonna win by 12 points?” Why didn’t they say, “Florida, Trump ahead by 17 rather than five?” Remember, it was even in Wisconsin. rump won Florida by five. Why didn’t say he was up by what, 22? So why don’t we have that, why on election night, why didn’t somebody say, “We’re calling Michigan, and we think Donald Trump has won it.” And why didn’t they make a an early call in Texas the first hour and say Donald Trump won Texas? That would have been a very good [call]. He won it by eight. And so why didn’t somebody say you know, there was a computer glitch, it transferred 8000 votes. or to be more esoteric, why is Ohio in a Midwestern regional environment like Southern Michigan or Wisconsin, why can Ohio count the votes on election night, and its neighbor to the north Michigan can’t? And what’s so different really … is Detroit and Ann Arbor that much different than Cleveland, and Cincinnati and Columbus? So why would one state right next to each other be eight plus Trump and the other down one or two? And same thing question could be asked Wisconsin. Wisconsin can’t really get us a quick vote? They have to stop counting. Why didn’t Iowa across the border? And for that matter why does Utah always do a pretty good job? Nobody questions the integrity of Utah—it’s always Nevada. And it always breaks in one way.
So these are the things, the asymmetry of all of these known unknowns, they all break one way, and that’s why people are upset. And the left says, “Well, prove it.” You know, it’s sort of [like] walking out of a crime, and you’re covered with, you know, powder burns and blood and somebody says, “Well prove that I did anything. Did you see me do it?” And so that’s the problem. You have to prove it. You have to find the actual voting irregularities and they have to be actual concrete numbers. And when they have that, it’ll blow the whole thing up. And if you can’t find the numbers, then you have to go to the Supreme Court and say, “We don’t have the numbers. But we do know they violated the law and you know it. And if you’ll just follow the law as it’s written in the Constitution, that’s your duty, then all of these ballots are going to be thrown out.” If they’re thrown out. maybe Donald Trump really didn’t lose his 400,000 vote lead in a matter of hours. We don’t know.
Mr. Jekielek: Victor, let’s jump to some scenarios here. You know, we’ll look at a potential Joe Biden presidency and a potential Trump presidency. You mentioned earlier, you know, the Russia collusion hoax. And of course that makes us wonder about the investigation into the origins of the Crossfire Hurricane Investigation. What is the fate of the Durham and Barr investigations given both scenarios?
Mr. Hanson: That would depend on the outcome, as you said, of the presidential election. Let’s take the first and bleaker one. If Joe Biden were to be President, I think John Durham and Bill Barr would probably have some indictments. I don’t know what what level they’d reach maybe an Andrew McCabe, I doubt James Comey, but who knows, maybe a John Brennan or something like that, depending on what they said under oath to particular investigators or Congressional committees.
But those indictments, to have any validity, realization of coming to fruition, they would have to be done this month—November or December. And then there would be a trial and I think whatever would happen, if Joe Biden were to come into power, all of those indictments, there would be a new Attorney General. They would probably remove, as we remember Barack Obama did. [Obama removed] all of the top. And Donald Trump did not do [that]—he did not remove Sally Yates or others like her. But there would probably be an array of mass firings and then all of those indictments would be dropped.
If for some reason there was some clear, egregious felonies, and the defendants pled guilty—and I don’t think they will, because I think they’ll see a Biden presidency as a reprieve—then I think they’d be pardoned, at least, or the trial would be suspended. So I have zero hope under a Biden administration, that there would be any justice. Primarily because in the case of impeachment and areas like that, and quid pro quo, when you get into that, and you know, if you’re talking about Paul Manafort being a foreign agent and Hunter Biden not being a foreign agent. So there’s there’s a lot of culpability and exposure in the Biden family. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.
If Donald Trump is president, then not only will it happen, but it will get a lot of institutional respect, because he did not force Barr to hasten the investigation and his conclusions before the election. And they were always accusing Donald Trump of doing all of these political terrible things. All with the idea that he’s going to have a October surprise. He didn’t do any of it. He didn’t get indictments in September, like a lot of people hoped he would.
He didn’t get Pfizer and Jawbone. Pfizer said, to take another example, [the CEO] said I think on September 8, the CEO said we’ll have a stunning announcement in late October. Everybody thought it was going to be a viable and safe vaccine announcement and the left went berserk. Donald Trump is trying to massage science in a way that is corruptive, corrosive, I should say.
And what happened? They did have an announcement in October. But the announcement was, we don’t play politics. We have no red and blue vaccination. The election’s not a milestone, we just don’t know. And then presto, deus ex machina, all of a sudden, five days after the election, we have a vaccine. It worked. It works, 90% effective. It’s safe. And oh, by the way, it’s not a product of Operation Warp Speed. Even though on their own website, it said, “We’re honored to be part of Operation Warp Speed.” And by the way, they didn’t announce what I just said first to Donald Trump, the President.
And they didn’t announce it to us, the people. They call up the Biden campaign after the election, and they were the first to know. And Joe Biden beamed that he was the one that announced it. So that was the Biden vaccination. So it’s very tragic, getting back tto the idea of a tragic hero. Donald Trump didn’t do all the things he was accused of, but did a lot of good things and never got credit.
And he has a very good chance of leaving the White House under really suspicious circumstances of a rigged election—not saying it is rigged, but suspicions that it is or it was distorted. And most of his legacy will either not be appreciated by the American people or adopted by Joe Biden. I think you’re going to hear very quickly of Biden vaccination, of a Biden recovery and an end to the Trump virus and the Trump lockdown. That’s what we’ll be hearing from the media, I think almost the moment the vote is certified.
Mr. Jekielek: Victor, let’s discuss more broadly then, since we’re going to be finishing up pretty soon. What are the implications of these election results, of course, not just the presidential results, but overall, on both the Republican and the Democratic parties, in your view?
Mr. Hanson: Well, we know what the effect on the Democrats are. The private consensus, not the public persona, that this is great, we beat Trump. The private discussion that’s going on right now is who screwed up. Our own pollsters told us that we were going to take the Senate and easily so by maybe four or five seats. Who did that? And we were supposed to get up to a 30 vote margin in the House. What happened? And we were supposed to win the national vote by 12 points. And we weren’t supposed to have 385 electoral college votes, what happened?
And there’s going to be finger-pointing and there’s going to be a lot of people in the Democratic party who say, “I know what happened. Our state governors and state mayors let people riot and commit arson and loot under the guise of progressivism, and nobody spoke out against it.” And we should have learned in the primary that the AOC, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, [and] Bernie Sanders’ message did not resonate. Nobody wanted reparations for … blacks, nobody wanted open borders. Nobody wanted Medicare for everybody. Nobody wanted the Green New Deal. Nobody wanted an end to fracking. And so we should have learned that.
And so I think there’s going to be a lot of discussion sort of like, even though they won, it’ll be more 1972 than 1992. [In] 1992, they shouldn’t have won. And everybody said, “Bill Clinton was a genius.” In 1972 they said, “McGovern was a moron.” And we went too hard left. So we’ll see. And so I think you’ll see BLM and the Antifa surrogates and AOC, and they’ll all say “We won! We did it!” And there’s gonna be a lot of people who say, I lost my seat because of you. And I almost lost my seat because of you. And we didn’t take the Senate because of you. And we had to put up Joe Biden as a veneer for you, because if we put up you guys, Elizabeth Warren or Sanders, we would have gotten beat. So I think that’s their discussion.
The Republican Party very quickly, there’ll be a big but anemic move on the part of the Bill Kristol, David Frum, Bulwark, Dispatch, Never-Trump, the ex-Weekly Standard crowd, and they’ll say, we were part of the Lincoln Project. And we were the decisive voice that convinced you know, white males over 50 that had college degrees not to vote for Trump in the numbers that they did before or whatever the argument will be. And therefore, we’re going to be the inheritors of the new Republican Party. We’re going to get back to kind of a detente, business as usual, free market, laissez-faire attitude with China. These deplorables really were deplorables. I think Bill Kristol said it one time, “What’s the problem if they take meth and they’re played out? We’re gonna get new immigrants to replace them.” Basically. I don’t want to be too literal. That’s was the intent of what he said.
And you know, we have to go back to nation-building abroad. And let’s not get the feathers ruffled of our NATO partners. And maybe Israel, we’re a little bit too much if… we don’t know what we’re doing in Israel. Go back to the Iran Deal. There’ll be a lot of pressure on that. But they’ll have no effect whatsoever. Because they still haven’t answered about three very brief questions. What’s your plan to get 6 to 8 million swing voters in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania either to win an election for the Republican Party or to get it within the margin of error? Do you have a plan for that? The answer’s no.
How can you show us that Donald Trump was more crude, more callous, than, I don’t know, Lyndon Johnson or Bill Clinton, or FDR, Harry Truman. You can’t. And maybe you can say he lived in a different Internet age, we should have been more careful about his speech or Twitter, but you still can’t show that while he was in the White House, Trump did anything but comport himself reasonably well and professionally. He did. He didn’t have sex with an intern. He didn’t deflower a virgin like, you know, JFK. He didn’t expose himself like LBJ. He didn’t, you know, say things like Barack Obama, let’s punish our enemies at the polls. He didn’t say of Trayvon Martin, you know, Travon looks like the son I never had. He didn’t intervene in a case and say, a white girl looks like the fourth daughter or the third daughter I never had—he didn’t do things like that.
And so they can’t answer these questions. And they can’t say what are we for, economically? Are we for the aristocratic golfing class? That was the character of the Republicans. So Mitt Romney and John McCain were 46, 47%, 180, 200 electoral vote candidates, and they wanted to win. They preferred to lose nobley than to win ugly. And Donald Trump came along and said, “You know what? I’m going to win.” And he did. And he may have a second time. We’ll have to wait and see.
Mr. Jekielek: Victor as we were speaking offline, you mentioned to me, you know, a concern about how China and actually the Chinese Communist Party may frame all this depending how things play out. And tto finish up, I want to get you to speak to that a bit, please.
Mr. Hanson: Now, that’s an interesting question. Because, if you were a member of the Chinese Communist Party inner circle, from what we know [of] how they think, and what they say, and what they’ve written, well, how would they interpret the election? i think it would go something like this in private: This virus got out. And maybe we shouldn’t have been experimenting with enhancing the lethality in the lab. Maybe [it] wasn’t a wet market. Doesn’t really matter about the origins. But they would say once it got out, we were pretty culpable. We relaxed. We lied about it. Among themselves [they’d say this.] We tried to pervert and pollute the World Health Organization. But once we tried to lock down Wuhan without telling our people in our country and people abroad that there was a crisis, a pandemic in Wuhan. But yet, you could go to San Francisco, LA, New York, but you couldn’t go from Wuhan to Shanghai. So we did a lot of things. And we were contrite.
But you know what? Never let a crisis go to waste. And so what do we do? We pretty much said, “What are you going to do about it? What are you in the West going to do about it? We handled it a lot better than you did—we think. We locked down our country, we used coercive measures, we disappeared people, we did whatever we had to do. And if you don’t like it, what are you going to do about it?” And in their way of thinking, of Darwinian “might makes right,” they think that projects an impression to Japan and South Korea and Australia that even if we did everything you said, what are you going to do about it? The United States can’t do anything.
In fact, they would go a step further and say, “Hmm, not only [are they unable to do anything about it], they must now for the rest of their lives be looking over their shoulder at China and say[ing] is there going to be an ‘oops, another virus escaped’?” Because anytime they start bullying us, maybe we’ll have a low-level military two-star-equivalent … general tell his counterpart—”Oh, keep it up.” And you know what? We might have another little Wuhan outbreak. Haha. So they’ve created a deterrent effect.
And when they look at this administration, they say to themselves, will they keep up the tariffs? And will they jawbone us to the same degree when they ran that Donald Trump was hated abroad? And the answer they come up with is no. And when they look at other countries, particularly Taiwan, they say to themselves, will Joe Biden protect the integrity of all the alliances? Or will he “work with the UN and work with the allies?” And they take that as a sign of weakness to be exploited. So I’m very worried …
And they’re very brutal people as you know, and they look at everything. They say to themselves, “Donald Trump is 74. And he acts like he’s 60. Joe Biden is 77. He acts like he’s 90.” We know what 90-year-olds do in crises. And we know what 60-year-olds do. And so let’s push them a little bit. Let’s have some overflights. Let’s send something into the waters off Taiwan and see what he does.
And then we’re going to go to the Taiwanese, and we’re going to go to the Australians and we’re going to go to the South Koreans and Japanese, and we’re going to tell them privately, “You see? This is who your allies are.” It’s the worst thing in the world to have a distant ally and a proximate enemy. You have us right next door. And you’ve got this guy over here that is living in La La Land. And he will not be Donald Trump, if we do anything.
And so I think they’re delighted. And I expect them to be very cautious, but very, very definite in the trajectory in which they want to move. And that is to press, press, press. And basically now they’re going to say to us, yeah, we destroyed democracy in Hong Kong. Yeah, we’ve got a million, maybe 3 million Uyghurs in camps, who cares? It’s our business. Yeah, there’s no longer a Tibet. I don’t care what you say about harvesting organs, and all of these disappeared people—that’s us. And we’re not going to take it anymore. And you can do what you want. You do your best, we’ll do our worst. We’ll see who wins.
I think they’re going to be much more confident now because of the Biden victory, because I think their chief nemesis and biggest worry is gone, if Trump loses.
Mr. Jekielek: Victor, any final thoughts before we finish up?
Mr. Hanson: Well, I mean, elections come and go. Leaders rotate. And as long as these changes in government occur between the sidelines, within parameters, we shouldn’t worry. So every time that I’ve been alive and a candidate I vote for lost. I asked myself, for all the rhetoric of, and the passion of the election, is the next presidency trying to change the rules.
And I voted against Barack Obama. I felt that he tried to change the rules in certain areas. You know, the Iran Deal without going through the Senate as the treaty demanded, weaponizing the IRS, weaponizing the DOJ, FBI, spying on another campaign, it was pretty bad.
But this is the first time, if Joe Biden were to win, and this is what I’m worried about, that they would change the rules, the Supreme Court, Electoral College, Second Amendment, filibuster. So let’s hope that doesn’t happen.
And there’s a lot of people in the Democratic Party, and this is something to end on a happy note, that either aren’t happy with radical socialism and leftism, or if they are happy with it, they feel that the American people are not there yet. And they’re going to really lose to a far greater degree in two years if they keep it up in the Senate and the House races to come in 2022.
Mr. Jekielek: Well, Victor Davis Hanson such a pleasure to have you on again.
Mr. Hanson: Thank you.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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