Leading Historian Highlights Alarming Trends In American Society Under Biden

By Ben Solis – October 16, 2023

In a recent interview with AMAC Newsline, Professor Wilfred McClay, the Victor Davis Hanson Chair in Classical History and Western Civilization at Hillsdale College, warned about alarming trends in American society under President Joe Biden.

As he explained, Biden’s presidency in many ways represents the culmination of the ascendancy of far-left elements within the Democrat Party and American liberalism more broadly.

Rather than trying to achieve traditional liberal aims through existing U.S. institutions, he argues, today’s Democrat Party is dominated by forces that seek to tear down those institutions entirely. As evidence for this, Professor McClay points to recent reports that the most prominent law schools in the country, including Harvard and Yale, now teach that the Constitution should be dispensed with entirely.

According to McClay, one major reason why the left wants to destroy the existing constitutional system is that it prevents complete rule by the “expert” class. “The U.S. Constitution provides too many obstacles to the rule by experts and easily manipulated majorities,” he says.

The left’s desire for rule by the experts was demonstrated clearly during what McClay calls the “COVID-19” fiasco. Dissenting opinions from what the “experts” were saying was ruthlessly suppressed by Big Tech, the mainstream media, and the federal government under Joe Biden. But those supposed “experts” like Dr. Fauci were revealed to have more interest in perpetuating their own power and covering up their mistakes than investing in the well-being of the people.

The left hopes to employ this same strategy on every other policy issue to shut down opposition, from economics to the “climate crisis” – something that the Founding Fathers would have abhorred. “For James Madison, the idea that everyone should have the same opinion was ridiculous,” McClay told me.

Biden and his Democrat allies now lean heavily on the “expert” class to sell their policies like an electric vehicle mandate, a centralized digital currency, and the creation of a socialist cradle-to-grave welfare state. Everyone is expected to fall in line behind this agenda because it is what the “experts” say is correct.

But McClay observes that there is a noticeable pushback to the left’s endless deference to the “experts” just like there was a backlash against the elitism of Hillary Clinton in 2016 when she referred to Donald Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables.”

“We’ve had flirtations in America in the past with this socialist requirement of a new man who would be purged of the poisons of individualism and adopt to the collective life.” But each time, Americans have rejected this philosophy outright. “Many Americans are realizing that in matters of human life, nobody is an expert,” McClay says.

McClay pointed to the universities as a major reason why so many people, especially young people, both naively follow the “expert” consensus and seem so infatuated with the failed precepts of socialism. “Complete brute ignorance” is how he describes the curriculum of most university instruction which preaches the nonexistent “positive” aspects of socialism.

“In a way,” McClay says, “some Americans have not suffered sufficiently to understand the greatness of what they have.” While left-wing professors teach the supposed evils of capitalism, they and their students are living lives of relative luxury compared to the rest of the world thanks to America’s capitalist democratic system.

But, McClay warns, there are signs that the left’s war on this system is beginning to yield results. The judicial system has now been weaponized against Democrats’ political opponents, most notably Donald Trump, but many other conservatives as well, including pro-life activists. Some of the January 6th defendants were convicted and sentenced in secret trials with no explanation from the government, while others were given far more harsh punishments than those who committed egregious acts of violence during the widespread riots in the summer of 2020.

Through trillions of dollars in spending, Democrats have also tanked the economy and made millions of Americans more reliant than ever on government welfare. Liberal policies are eroding Americans’ ability to be self-reliant and empowering an ever-more authoritarian federal government.

To remedy this, McClay suggests that conservatives should champion history courses in school that are intentional about highlighting the contrast between America and totalitarian socialist regimes. “I wish that students would read some Solzhenitsyn or someone who experienced Communism or Nazism,” he says, as those writers effectively convey that socialism destroys the soul of the human person.

McClay also says that students should learn how America’s Founding Fathers were fearful of a powerful centralized government, and also that they believed they were establishing a nation on Judeo-Christian values. “I do not think one can separate that view from fundamentally Christian nature of the United States with freedom oriented on virtue as designed by Framers,” he said.

Although Professor McClay has worries for the future, he also expressed optimism that many Americans will wake up and reverse course. “I fear for the prospect of my children,” he said, “but this crisis may bring a clarity of vision to Americans who will say, ‘Oh, I have been out of my right mind.’”

For the sake of American democracy and the world, let us hope that is the case.

Ben Solis is the pen name of an international affairs journalist, historian, and researcher.