David French is an American author, journalist, and senior editor at The Dispatch. In this episode, David and Robert talk about his new book — Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation – as well as the many cultural, political, and geographic divides in America, why, in French’s view, the GOP has “become a party of rage,” his role as one of America’s most prominent evangelical Christian journalists, basketball, the NBA, LeBron James, and why “we need to view people with grace.”
Robert Bryce 0:05
Hi, and welcome to the power hungry podcast. I’m your host, Robert Bryce. On this podcast, we talk about energy, power, innovation and politics. And today, it’s going to be all politics, maybe a little bit of energy and probably a little basketball. So this is a little bit of a departure from some of my other guests. But I’m very pleased to have David French with us today. David, welcome to the power hungry podcast.
David French 0:27
Thanks so much for having me. I really appreciate it. You bet.
Robert Bryce 0:30
So David, I know you’re a journalist and author. But we’re here to talk about your new book. It’s divided, we fall Americans succession threat and how to restore our nation. Let me go ahead and ask you on my custom on this podcast is to have the guests in, introduce themselves. So if you don’t mind, tell me who you are, and and why we’re here today, if you don’t mind.
David French 0:53
Yeah, so I’m a senior editor at the dispatch, new conservative media company founded by Steve Hayes from formerly the weekly standard, and jonah goldberg, formerly of national review. And our goal is to provide fact based reporting and analysis, take a pause on the news cycle and try to take a closer look, we’re conservatives, but we’re not partisans. And so that’s, so I’m a senior editor for the dispatch. I’m also a columnist for Time Magazine. I’m former writer for National Review, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. And I’m a recovering lawyer. So I’ve just kind of done a few things over the years.
Unknown Speaker 1:33
You have indeed.
Robert Bryce 1:36
So why did it this is a very standard question. But I’m going to ask it anyway. Why did you write this book and why now?
David French 1:45
Yeah, so the book I wrote it, because really, ever since I got back from Iraq, which is in late 2008, I have been growing increasingly alarmed about divisions in the United States. I think if you were going to if you’re going to ask somebody is the United States divided? And people would say, Yeah, of course. But they wouldn’t have put all the pieces together to know exactly how divided we’re becoming. And this is one of the things that is one of the central purposes of the book is I want to wake people up to the true dimensions of our division in this country. And, and we’re dividing geographically, we’re clustering into like minded communities, we’re dividing religiously. But coming with very strong, very strong religious communities and an increasing secular community. We’re dividing culturally, we don’t have a common popular culture. And the other thing that’s really interesting is all of this is actually layering together into a mutual reinforcing cycle. And what’s compounding at all when it comes to politics. As we’re dividing, it’s not like we’re liking each other anymore. We’re liking each other less that the there’s a measurable and severe increase in enmity, in anger between our red and blue tribes. And all of these things can’t keep happening forever. We can’t keep just walking down this road, and expect to stay together.
Unknown Speaker 3:07
Robert Bryce 3:09
Well, I found the book to be marvelous. And I you know, it as we were talking before we started recording, expose some things that I thought about but hadn’t put put put, you know, put it in the ways that you’ve done it. But in the first part in the book, you say, by 2016, the Republican Party I’d grown up in was barely recognizable to me. The party I perceived to be a party of hope, had clearly become a party of rage, concerned about the course of American law, politics and culture had become alarm and alarm in some quarters turned to panic. So it seems to me that that rage, you know, I’m not a I’m not a partisan either. I’m a member of the disgusted party. I don’t I don’t affiliate with I used to be a Democrat. I, you know, some of my politics are, I guess, fit on the right, and some fit on the left. But how do you describe your own politics? You said you’re conservative, but not partisan. What does that mean?
David French 4:04
Yeah, well, I grew up as a Christian, conservative Republican. So I was born in Alabama, grew up in Tennessee and Kentucky, and was kind of what you would call sort of a core part of the base of the religious, the religious conservative base of the Republican Party. Also, I’m classically liberal, I am a civil libertarian. I’ve been a lawyer, a constitutional lawyer, most of my career, defending the Bill of Rights on behalf of anybody whose rights have been violated, and and so I was convinced, I gotta say, by a lot of the arguments that my team made, and by my team, I mean, like evangelical conservatives made in the 1990s, about the importance of character in politics and that there are some principles that you don’t compromise for partisan gain and When the Trump campaign rolled around, and all of a sudden a lot of these same people who were talking about the importance of character and politics, the importance of marital fidelity, for example, the importance of lawfulness, the importance of upholding core sort of classical liberal convictions within the Republican coalition coalition, all of that started to be sort of not just tossed out the window, but sometimes almost gleefully tossed out the window, to the point where there got to be a very and detail in this book in the book, a real argument about whether we should even abandon the classical liberal founding principles of our country. And I, you know, the bottom line is, I just decided I could not affiliate with a party that put Donald Trump as its standard bearer, he, he does not reflect my values. He, while I agree with some of his policies, I think his overall effect on the country is extraordinarily toxic. And I don’t want to, I don’t want that to come through anything I’m affiliated with. Sure. So and, and then, you know, he’s had an effect on the party, he has changed the party in some material ways, not just it sort of nationalist, more authoritarian bent. But also it’s it’s very culture, it’s, it’s a party that is increasingly given to bullying sort of all up and down the line. And I just don’t want any part of that. And,
Robert Bryce 6:29
and a party and a party of personality. And what you just said was, Oh, yeah, I can’t tell you how many times in the past few weeks or months, I’ve talked to people about the election, you know, Biden or Trump, and you know, I don’t I don’t savor pushing the button for any of them, right. I don’t know who the third party candidate is, but maybe I push the button for, but I’ve heard so many times people say, Oh, I can’t stand Trump, but I like his policies. And I’m thinking, Well, wait a minute. It’s all of a piece. You can’t separate the man from his politics. And so, but I guess one of the questions I’m just curious about, and maybe there’s some you don’t want to discuss, was that part of your reason for leaving National Review? I mean, because there has become a group of, than there were the never trumpers. And then the kind of, well, we don’t like Trump, and then suddenly, it was, well, the Supreme Court matters. So we’re gonna put up with it, I mean, is that how does your into where you are now.
David French 7:22
So the, you know, when, when Jonah and Steve sort of put forward the mission statement of what they were trying to build with the dispatch, that was very, very, very compelling to me, the way that they were trying to construct the dispatch, and very much connected with the way my own writing was going, and my own thinking, and so that was very powerful pull towards Jonah and Steve. And then I got to say, I agree with what Jonah said, so because Jonah came from Nash review, and he, it’s, it’s difficult when you know that something you write is going to be difficult for your employer. So when you write what you believe, and write what you think, and it causes just huge blowback, not just to you, but to the people who hire you. And the people that pay your salary, you know, it’s just difficult, it’s difficult, and I have great friends at National Review. And I got to say, you know, as far as on the the publications on the conservative side, National Review is still what it always has been, which is a big tent for a lot of differing and disagreements within the Republican and I mean, within the conservative movement, and so it’s got writers there that I respect the heck out of that, right, you know, that are writing compelling stuff, critiquing Trump, and there are writers who are writing stuff that is defending Trump and so natural views really maintain that big tent. So I’d have to say it was much more the poll of what Jonah and Steve were building, but it is a factor to sit there and think you know, if I if I write this the fear the backlash against the people who hire me who I respect a ton, you know, that’s you hate you hate that, that, that you hate that that’s the reality we’re in but that goes back to the culture point I talked about. The Republican Party has really the, the intense anger at people who dissent from Donald Trump is really something to behold. Right, there is such a thing as a canceled culture on the right. And it’s so yes, around trumpism. Um, and, you know, and look, people say, David, you got to separate the man from his policies. You can’t do that. Look at the run up to the pandemic crisis. He has admitted, he has admitted to saying to downplaying the, the severity of this virus, right. And we needed truth in those weeks we didn’t need and the consequences of because of his cultural power, and the way that that has rippled through red America, have been, in my view, quite catastrophic. And that’s a that is a core character. issue he could not level with the American people about what we’re about to face.
Robert Bryce 10:05
Well, and you say that about the culture issue or the character issue. And now we see it with Jerry Falwell, Jr, who was one of his first supporters on the evangelical evangelical team. And he has his own, not little character issues. But I mean, we don’t have to get in it’s, it’s so tawdry, it’s almost beyond measure. But let me move on. Because, you know, those issues of publication and where you find a home are important, but I want to focus on the book and the divide issues, because they are really important. And as I was reading your book, I thought, Well, what do you think? I mean, you identify the geographic divides, which are clear, and you talk about the fact that the vast majority of the states, no women, it’s about the landslide counties, right, then the number of parents of Americans who live in so called landslide counties, where one presidential candidate wins by at least 20 points is at an all time high, and you identify other divides. So my question is, is there one of these divides? Whether it’s gun ownership, whether it’s geographic, what’s the most combustible part of the division? Do you think?
David French 11:10
I think what’s combustible is how all of the house how so many of these things all together fall down along predictable ideological, and geographic lines. So what ends up happening is we’re constructing very separate cultures, from sort of top to bottom. Okay, so areas that are more religious, are redder. areas that have more guns, guns are redder areas, you know, and you can just start to go down the line I even talked about in the book, how you can look at television viewing maps, right? Yeah. And see big differences in what people watch depending on where they are. You know, one of the things I grew up in the south, as you know, my parents were Auburn students. When I was born, my dad taught at LSU. I live near Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky. My kids go to the University of Tennessee, I have massive sec. Like I cut my cousin played football from Mississippi State. So anyway, yeah. And I’m steeped in the universe of college football. I’ll go to places like say in in the West Coast or in, say, Brooklyn or Manhattan and I’ll say the name Nick Saban. And I’ll get a blank looks like yeah, who what I’m saying you don’t know, the Darth Vader of college football is?
Robert Bryce 12:32
Yeah, he’s, he’s won. He’s won a couple games.
David French 12:35
Yeah. And that’s a small thing, a huge, you know, kind of a small funny thing, but it’s each thing. And if I had to pinpoint the one, that’s the most important, it’s the religious slice of this, because America is a secularizing. country, but it’s not secularizing in the same way, and in all the same places. Right. And so, where I live in Middle Tennessee is very religious. It is very religious, it, you know, if you if let’s say you live in Sanford, let’s say you live in the Bay Area, and you come down to my town, Franklin, Tennessee, one of the first things you’ll notice is, I didn’t know this town had enough people to fill all those churches that were driving by some of which are huge, just a huge, and, and when i go i remember when i when i and this is something that’s been going on for a while. And I remember when the when I first visited visited Boston before law school, one of the first thoughts that went through my head was, where are the churches? I noticed their physical absence, if that makes sense. And right, especially as compared to where I live. And, and so I do think that that is a very profound division. And the reason I highlighted is that lots of nations and cultures have foundered over and have had profound conflict over religious divisions.
Robert Bryce 13:54
Sure. And it’s remarkable, because you quoted in fact, in your last Sunday, I get your email blast on Sundays, the Sunday dispatch, and you quote George Washington, and I don’t have it right in front of me about that, that pluralism and religious pluralism that he embraced from the very earliest days. And, and, and you quote, and I’ll get to it in a minute, but the book of Micah, but you’re, you’re such an oddity, as you know, I’ve done journalism for 30 years as a journalist who’s in the fray, regularly talking about their faith. Not only are is this division in America, more generally about who’s going to church and who isn’t. But it’s especially prominent I think, in the journalistic class where it’s like almost all secular, all Democrats, and here you’re an evangelical Christian conservative, and where do you I guess you had to be part of a new publication to have a home is that because you’re not you are an oddity. Am I am I wrong?
David French 14:58
Well, there’s not a You know, I would say one of the biggest problems in sort of the journalistic class generally is religious illiteracy, and sort of there’s, there is a huge amount of ignorance about faith. Which is not to say that there aren’t some really good religion reporters who are out there, you know, immigration at the Atlantic just does great work and Sarah Pulliam, Bailey, Michelle Borstein, The Washington Post, I mean, I can go through that there are people who really do dive into into these issues. But it is you’re very correct. You’re very right. By and large, especially in the sort of the mainstream media, it is very, it’s overwhelmingly secular. And a evangelical Christian point of view is even amongst the sort of religious folks, that’s even a smaller percentage. Sure. And, and so I sometimes feel like I’m in an explanatory mode a lot. And I actually enjoy that. I actually enjoy that, honestly, that
Robert Bryce 15:58
isn’t explanatory, or is it? Or is it evangelizing? I mean, because what I see in your work that I think is really interesting, particularly on your Sunday blast, is, you’re very used to word for word about your faith, right, that you’re a believer, and that you’re saying, Well, you know, citing verse and and and and including gospel songs that you know, that you like, I mean, this is not common, you know, no,
David French 16:24
you know, and it’s funny. I’m so glad you brought that up. But yeah, it’s it’s a lot of it is an explanation, but it also there is an evangelistic component to it as well. And I’m, you know, I’m glad you brought that up, because what I have found is that there are an awful lot of people who, a, in who, including read the dispatch, who have never been exposed to an evangelical who’s not just articulating the reason, sort of, from a clinical analytical perspective, what they believe, but also from an emotional perspective, from the heart kind of perspective, what I believe
Robert Bryce 17:01
about, about deep faith, yeah,
David French 17:02
yeah. And it has struck a chord, it has struck a chord, unlike anything that I’ve ever written any any real quick that Sunday newsletter is by far the most popular thing I’ve ever written in my life. And okay,
Robert Bryce 17:19
well, let me stop. So how do people then since we want people listening to the podcast to buy your book, but how do they subscribe to that email blast,
David French 17:27
just go to the dispatch, calm, and you don’t, that email blast on Sundays is free. If you subscribe to the dispatch, comm if you are what we call with much affection of free Lister. I put out three newsletters a week, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. And the Sunday when it’s free, just goes out to everybody it can be shared anywhere and everywhere. Tuesday, and Thursday is behind our paywall, our very modest paywall with a mere $10 a month, which gives you everything that we do, but that Sunday one, if you just want to dip your toe in the water, you can go to the dispatch.com sign up and you can get it and, and I have to tell you, I have been so moved by some of the responses that I’ve gotten to that newsletter, just very moved. And it you know, it’s it’s interesting, there’s a, there’s a it does something to you as a writer, when you get people writing back to you and saying how something you wrote, touch them at a deep level, a it’s gratifying. And be in a weird way. It’s very humbling and intimidating. Because you realize you sort of have a your, you have a great sense of responsibility. In what you write, you have a you know, if you’re trying to communicate truths, that you believe about your faith, that is a very humbling and intimidating thing to be honest. And, and so I’m incredibly grateful for the response to it, I’m overwhelmed by the response to it. I never imagined it would be what it has become. And I have to say, I start thinking about it. And so it comes out on Sunday morning, and I will start thinking about the next Sunday’s newsletter by about three in the afternoon on Sunday.
Robert Bryce 19:15
So we’re talking about faith here is that mean you’ve you’ve been a lawyer, you’ve been in the courtroom a lot. You’ve done a lot of different things. So is this your calling?
David French 19:25
I feel like it is to be honest, I feel like you know, it’s interesting because I come into this world, not the typical career path to becoming a political commentator or columnist. Most of my career, I was a lawyer. I’ve also served in the military. I was deployed to Iraq during the surge. And I sort of eased into writing by writing about the things that I did my legal work writing about my military experience. And so I came into this with a lot of real world experience that was outside of journalism. And, and and I came into it more from the experience of two decades as a professional being more of a consumer of journalism than a producer and writer journalism. And
Robert Bryce 20:16
so maybe that was an advantage. I
David French 20:18
think it I think it’s helped me, I think it has helped me because it is allowed me in particularly on the Sunday newsletter to see that there was some stuff that was missing. And there’s some stuff that was missing in our political and cultural writing. And, you know, however, imperfectly, you know, I’m trying to, I’m trying to fill in something that’s missing. Yeah.
Robert Bryce 20:43
Well, that’s, I think it’s really interesting. And so I mean, just one more thing, I thought about Trump ism. And and because it has overtaken the Republican Party. I think it’s clear, and I’ve thought about this. And yeah, you know, long before we really started getting into the re election, I, I would give presentations and say, you know, talk about the challenges America faces, right, the cultural divide the underclass unemployment, you know, poor schools, you know, the, the ratio of inequality, but I would always mention the fact that, well, here’s Trump, and yet we’re running trillion dollar deficits under a nominally republican president, where is that? To me? It was, you know, where’s the conservatism here? It was never, even from a fiscal standpoint, there was no conservatism because it was, well, let’s open the spigots because, you know, for cheap money, let’s look, how much is that playing into this? This this part of his popularity? Do you think that, that not just the cult of personality, but, you know, well, you know, everybody’s going to get a favor?
David French 21:44
I think, I don’t know how, let me put it like this, I think, Okay. He scratches an itch, a very specific itch so effectively for a lot of Republican voters, that what ever, whatever else he does, is okay. So, so let me put it like this, in what is that core itch to the scratches, he fights, he takes on the left, he takes on the media. And I think there was all the time, all the time. And I think there was this real, profound sense. I you know, of grievance after 2012, in running in two directions from a bunch of Republicans one versus the media and the left, that they attacked Mitt Romney so viciously, that they didn’t just try to defeat him, they tried to paint this really decent, many of them, not all of them, but many of them painted this really fundamentally decent man, as a horrible human being as part of an effort to defeat him. So there was a lot of sort of grievance directed outward. And then there was a ton of grievance directed inward, like, for example, at Mitt Romney, I have to believe that he didn’t fight hard enough that he didn’t come out swinging aggressively enough against all against the, you know, these people who are painting him in such dreadful and put painting them in such a dreadful light. And, and so there was this internal grievance against the Republican establishment where people felt like they were wearing kid gloves. And there was this external grievance towards the mainstream media and the Democrats, they were the ones who took the gloves off. And so along comes Trump. And he takes the gloves off against both of the enemies. Right, the establishment that they believe fought with too much of, you know, by gentleman’s rules, and against the mainstream media, and he was just coming in swinging wildly at all the all the enemies, and then in people just totally missed this often in their analysis. He wins, right? He wins. He, you know, I can’t even tell you the sense of gloom that it’s settled over, like I live in very red America, the sense of gloom by early November of 2016, by the first couple of days, that Hillary Clinton is gonna win, we’re gonna have 12 years of Democrats at least, and she’s probably gonna win a second term. And the surprise and shock at the victory bonded Republicans to Trump, emotionally in a way that I just think people, they just miss it, they just miss it. And if Biden beats Trump, you’ll see that happen on the Democratic side, this sort of, I’m gonna hold my nose and vote for Biden, because he’s too moderate or whatever, if he wins, especially if he wins convincingly. There will be a spontaneous outpouring of affection for that, man.
Robert Bryce 24:40
So let me ask so what’s your call? I mean, we’re still several weeks ahead of the election. What what’s your sense of what you know, at the polls were famously wrong. Four years ago, what’s your read what Give me your look in your crystal ball? What do you see?
David French 24:53
Well, let me put it this let me put it like this. Okay. Obviously it is. You can’t see Wait, we learned in 2016 not to make definitive predictions, but I learned I will put it like this. If you came to me and and I’m a completely non ideological person, all I want is to back the winning team. And the Biden team makes its pitch and the Trump team makes its pitch, I’m definitely joining the Biden team. In other words, I would not want if I was Biden’s campaign manager, I would not want to switch places. I’m not not because Trump would be more worse to work for, but just from a purely who’s gonna win standpoint, if I’m Biden’s campaign manager, I feel better than if I’m Trump’s campaign manager. And I feel pretty strongly better. And, and, and part of the reason why I do is that the polling, which is extremely which people have tried to correct some of the mistakes that they made in 2016, by waiting, like Who are they sampling is been very stable and very consistent at between that five and eight point margin, right, if Biden is anywhere in there, even assuming Trump has an electoral college advantage, that’s just outside the margin of the electoral college. And right now, I think he’s had seven points in the 538. And there’s also a lot fewer undecided voters right now than there were and then amongst those who don’t like either of them, more of those people are going to vote for Biden, and it was the reverse situation in 2016. So I think there’s a lot of fundamental underlying stability to the race. That didn’t exist in 2016.
Robert Bryce 26:37
Yeah, but my my only thought on it is just that whoever wins, and I kind of am with you that right now, it seems like the momentum is behind Biden, and that he’s just trying not to lose and you know, and try, and, you know, the debates will will help us you know, you know, discern that but whoever wins needs to win big because we need to, because of the obvious things, but let’s get back to the book here. Yeah. So I, I’ll admit to you when I first started reading the section of the book, where you fictionalized or projections about the secession and you you know, Texas and California saying, Okay, enough, we’re, we’re leaving, which, you know, I live in Texas, I’m from Oklahoma, I’m not big on this whole Texas thing you know, Texas bigger, but but you know, I remember in Texas, seeing bumper stickers regularly years ago, I don’t see very often now with secede on them. Right. Yeah. But when I started reading your, your, the part of the book where you talk about the the first black governor of Alabama, Jaylen Jackson, 40 year old Southern Baptist adopted son of a desperate single mom. And when you started sketching out the characters in Alabama, the governor Jaylen Jackson, and then in Texas, Francisco Gonzalez right, another conservative who you as you say another new face of the new south. His story was compelling. Also born into poverty, the son of an illegal immigrant, served in the Marines deployed twice and then attended University of Texas on the GI Bill, the way you painted it to me was so plausible, I thought, wow. Now this is really clever. But then you make to walk through that if you don’t mind about how you would see them, because the people who have read your book, this idea of the cleft right, the splitting of America into more than one country? Just briefly what how you think that that those scenarios that you outlined in the book?
David French 28:27
Yeah. So in this scenario, is that those make or break the book to the reader, actually, because what I wanted to do was say, okay, it’s one thing to talk sociology, and politics. It’s another thing to try to make that real. And and here’s the question I’ve asked people, do you find what I have written in the middle of the book chilling, or far fetched? If you find it chilling, then that has that is how I that’s how I imagined it in my mind that, essentially what I did is I took all of these issues that are presently live in the United States of America. And I added some key mistakes, or added some overreach or some panic, because the way I look at it is, I went back and you know, you start to look at, okay, what is it? When you see geographic clustering, when you see increasing extremism, and you see an increasing amount of fear. These are some of the ingredients that existed in 1776 and an 1816 1861, where you have geographically contiguous areas with a specific culture that they seek to preserve for good in 1776 and for evil in 1861. That they feel is under threat. And then here’s the next important part. They either lose face faith in the democratic process to protect their culture, or they begin to feel that their very lives are at stake. And I say white right now. We have in this Country, distinct geographic areas that are culturally homogenous to a great degree that believes that those cultures are under threat. So we have these basic ingredients, the one ingredient we don’t have as much yet is that sense that that threat is getting violent. Then and but you know, when I wrote the book and, and finished the first draft was in I finished it before the George Floyd killing in the in the rioting, that has swept the country since then. So we’ve actually taken a kind of baby step into this. I fear political violence world now that didn’t exist even in February, you know, March, April of this year. And so that’s my, my contention is, when you look at it like this, you know, how before pep rallies, like colleges would sometimes build these giant bonfires. And I’d be stacking the wood for days. And you’re just stacking, stacking, stacking. That’s what I think we’re doing in our country are increasing polarization. And division is like stacking the wood for the bonfire. And then it takes mistakes, or malice, or a combination of mistakes and malice and the fire lights. Right. And that’s my whole position in the book is that we need to raise like, let’s start taking wood off. Right that that pile instead of keep stacking wood onto it.
Robert Bryce 31:26
Right? Well, and I and you put your finger on the that with Jalen Jackson, fictional character, the fictional governor of Alabama, you say that, in fact, life was the defining issue of his political career. Because when he after he was adopted, he realized, well, his mother could have aborted him. And to me, that’s really resonant now with Ginsburg, Steph. Ruth Bader Ginsburg recent death, and the concern now is almost wholly on the Supreme Court and the Roe v. Wade case. Yeah. And so that that abortion of all the divides, politically seems to be still now. And and I live in Austin, where, you know, Sarah Whittington the are the, the lawyer who argued that case lived and was lionized here. But that case still is such a divisive element of American politics. And I this will not ever be resolved. And even if it were, how do you see this? That? I mean, you’ve argued now, in fact, very controversially, I would say, you and jonah goldberg saying, well, Trump shouldn’t feel that a Supreme Court seat now he should wait. So, explain. Explain the last part first. Why should he wait?
David French 32:34
Well, part of it is, I’m, I want politicians to keep their word. Okay, so let me let me just begin
Unknown Speaker 32:41
here. So old fashioned. I
Unknown Speaker 32:44
know. You really I know.
Robert Bryce 32:46
We’re working on the turnip truck.
David French 32:48
Yeah. So I, there are a few things I want. I want to de escalate. And I want to say I have there are many competing policy and cultural interests here. I believe it is time for a de escalation in national politics, not an escalation. I believe it is a time for increasing character in public officials and not decreasing character. And both of those issues come into play. So you have a small number, but decisive number of Republican senators who very unequip quickly said in 2016 and 2017, and reaffirmed it in 2018. Hey, if there’s an vacancy in an election year, whether they’re republican presidents Republican or Democrat, we should wait. Rubio said this. Lindsey Graham said it and even said, hold me to it. You know, Rob Portman said this Ted Cruz talked about I mean, you can go down the line. So one thing is, Hey, keep your word. Because you know what happens when you don’t keep your word, what you tell the American people is that politics is a Machiavellian power enterprise, not an empire enterprise based on principle. And then that has the effect of escalating our national disputes. And, and, you know, going back to the book, one of the things that I I point out in is that if you have a decision, like of the Supreme, the Supreme Court, that creates a giant backlash, and you do not have power. You know, for example, court packing in response to overruling Rome, which then leads to the governors of the states that have passed heartbeat bills, for example, which most of the south and much of the Midwest has passed heartbeat bills, creating a sort of vast zone of America that if Roe v Wade is overturned that if abortion is effectively banned, right, so then, then, you know, Democrats court Pac in response to that, to immediately reverse the reversal, or to immediately reverse some pro you know, some religious liberty gains, those kinds of things because those stakes are so high. And because the in between enmity between the zones is so great, those create the potential for dramatic escalation miscalculation And political danger. And, and so yeah, you know, the the but what I did say about abortion a couple weeks ago is what’s interesting about abortion is even though there’s been this sort of stagnation in the law for really 30 years since the planned parenthood v. Casey case, and there’s no real prospect of Casey being overruled anytime soon, at least none that we’re able to see, because only one justice out of nine has said that they do it. The abortion rate has plummeted in this country. Right. It’s plummeted. And so there is a possibility that abortion could become almost a an extremely rare procedure just through the long process of cultural change. Before there’s a legal resolution to it. But at the same time, it’s entirely possible that because it is the single most hot button judicial issue in the United States of America that it could trigger one way or another a political crisis. Right.
Robert Bryce 36:01
Let’s talk about guns for a minute. Because one of the things that in in looking at your ideas about secession and conflict and so on. I mean, if there were some kind of armed insurrection, we’ve seen this before, that where there’s some kind of armed conflict, wouldn’t the overwhelming firepower of the police, the National Guard quickly put that down? I mean, I, you know, I asked because increasingly, in some of these demonstrations, you see people of whites, blacks, brown people carrying Long, long rifles in these protests that seem to make that shooting, you know, shooting conflict between civilians and law enforcement, more likely, but how couldn’t wouldn’t those any kind of rebellion of that kind be quickly put down?
David French 36:48
Yeah, well, first, the the amount of people open carrying ar 15 and 210 situations right now in the US is out of control. And we are very fortunate, we have not had some serious out gun battles in American streets. We’re just very fortunate, because we’re relying on the discipline of some of the most undisciplined people in the US to save us from some kind of awful street massacre. But my my book doesn’t posit and I don’t think that you would have an armed insurrection of the type like in 1776. My book posits is that, for example, in the calyx, that scenario, that decrease decreasing gun ownership in blue areas, combined with increasing federal authority over gun rights, mixed with you know, you know, the the possibility of mass shootings means that disputes over gun rights could escalate. Right, not have. And so because i don’t i don’t think, as a practical matter, you know, one of the things that’s interesting about American American sort of secessionism, were American revolts is that they tend to be run channeled through governmental entities. So the, the colonists when they got to be particularly upset with Great Britain, established a Continental Congress, right. So, you know, there’s a Continental Congress that existed before there was the Declaration of Independence, and there, they established formal legalized mechanisms of resistance and rebellion. Um, you know, when, when the South seceded, what did they do? They voted either in secession conventions, or, you know, and they did a formalized legal process in America, it’s funny, you know, we have this highly individualistic culture. But when we were Ebell, we tend to rebel through sort of rule of law, adjacent means. And so one of the things that I talked about in this in the, in the secession scenarios, and both of those circumstances, both the catalogs and the texts it is what ultimately ends up happening is that governors of the state in response to an enormous amount of popular pressure and in response to a series of escalations go to the people and say, we need to vote on this. And, and my argument is that there would not be a second Civil War. Like, I don’t think there would be a second Civil War. Oh, for a couple of reasons. One, I don’t, I think our antipathy our inventory is such that people would, or a lot of people would say, by California, Mercia, they wouldn’t send their sons and daughters to die to keep California and vice versa. And the other thing is, as I point out in the scenarios, the sheer lethality of the, in a true secession crisis, you wouldn’t be sure like that you would have full control of all elements of the military, right and the sheerly faladi of our weaponry and the sheer speed at which it can be deployed, would render a real conflict kind of unthinkable, that the stakes would just be way too high to do that. And so that and so essentially what would happen, is it, it would just if there was a formalized divorce, the divorce would happen. And the question would be, how acrimonious? Would it be? Not? Would it actually spiral into formal violence of the kind of the what, you know, with the Army of the Potomac versus the Army of Northern Virginia?
Robert Bryce 40:19
Sure. But you do make an excellent point, too. And, you know, having lived in Texas now for three decades that a great, very large contingent of the American armed forces are based in Texas, right? And that, that, and you know, that’s the old line about you. What is it join the Navy, see the world join the Air Force? See Texas, right, yeah. But this, but there is a very much of a difference. And I wrote about this in one of my books now 10 or 15 years ago, about the schism, really between Texas and California. And you see that in particular, on energy. And one of the things that times are one of the few points you mentioned in the book about energy is that, that the Democrats, pack the Supreme Court and pass an onerous carbon tax. And that’s one of the things that I see as well as this division, not just between rural and urban areas in America, right, the urban areas being deeply red, you know, Trump overwhelmingly won the rural counties. But now when it comes to energy policy, the urban elites, and I’m going to use that term, because it’s the right one, want to put a bunch of energy infrastructure, particularly renewables in rural red counties, and the red counties are saying we didn’t vote for you. We don’t want that stuff here. But that’s but that’s part of the political dynamic now.
David French 41:29
Yeah. You know, what’s really interesting about the energy debate is, it feels to me like where the energy debate gets divisive in my in to me is a when you try to impose upon communities a, you know, yeah, as you’re talking about, we just talked about the renewables in the rural communities, either when you’re when you’re overcoming a local economy, or overcoming a local way of life against the will of the local citizens. That creates a problem also, when you tie energy to things that are not facially energy related. So I’ll give you a good example. So that you had the remember that the very brief, green New Deal document that was not really a energy policy, sort of an energy manifesto? Surely it included things like health care, right? Well, wait. Yeah, wait. And then there was this is a huge crisis. And some of us don’t think we should use nuclear power to deal with weight, you know. So for a lot of people, there’s a sense that it’s something else going on here. Because if this is an existential crisis about climate, why are we talking about health insurance? Or if this is an existential climate crisis about climate? Why are we not unifying? Because I know a lot of red Americans who, for a lot of interesting reasons, cultural reasons, like nuclear power a lot? Sure, and they’re all about it. Why can’t we like unify around that just as a sort of a step one. So there are ways in which I think energy policy becomes unnecessarily divisive.
Robert Bryce 43:13
But that’s another exempt everything, right. But it’s another example of this divide and an almost religious fervor around your, your idea of renewables. Right. And, you know, you have that in the democratic party platform, finally, for the first time in 48 years, and I wrote about this shortly, a few weeks ago, endorsed nuclear energy. Now, how far that’s going to go, we’ll see. But let me move back to the to the, to the book about because there are a couple of other things, including basketball that I want to talk about, but you have your subtitle in the book, it’s about, you know, how to restore our nation, right, the secession threat and how to restore our nation. And so the last section, you talk about the fact that there is a need for a better American political class, but now there is little apparent demand, and that those who care the most often hate the most. And one of the chief methods of discrediting their ideological allies is by portraying them as to tolerance of the hated political enemy, right. So that somehow tolerance itself is the enemy, and you’ve been attacked, personally in this way. Right. But David French is, but but is that I don’t, I’m going to ask it straight. And I mean, it. I’ll just say it. Are you naive here? I mean, is it to think that, to think that we can achieve that and I asked that respectfully, but is it just Are you really hoping for too much I agree with your sentiment, but is it hoping too much?
David French 44:44
Well, I don’t think I necessarily have a lot of hope. That it’s I’m saying that, you know, one of the things you just read was that we need a better political class, but there’s a little apparent demand for it, and I recognize fully the Because
Robert Bryce 45:02
the extremists are the ones that get the attention.
David French 45:05
Yeah, exactly. And so I recognize the level of enmity. But what I can say is, just as I let me put it this way, Americans have divided violently in the past, and we’re not human nature is not better than it was then, you know, or Americans have been more violent, even in the recent past and human nature, nature isn’t better now than it was then in, say, in 1968. So we have to recognize the possibility that we can be as bad as we were, then, you know, we can we have to recognize a possibility that we can divide to become like some of our ancestors. And here’s what is also true. In the recent past, we’ve been better. We’ve been better. So we have to, we have two possibilities. And it’s not naive to say it’s not alarmist to say we can be worse, because we’ve been worse. Yeah. And it’s not naive to say that we can be better because we’ve been better. And I think that what ends up happening is that we often sort of we, the naive attai argument, I think, to me, is one that is that’s levelled at me all the time, all the time.
Robert Bryce 46:17
Fair, fair enough. And I’m not sure that’s the right word. I, here’s how I’d come back at it, David. And I just think that it’s what you’re arguing? Here’s how I would interpret is it, you’re arguing for civility. And in your last in your email last Sunday, you pointed out and I thought, appropriately so. And it’s one of the things that I truly miss about both of them that that Scalia and ginsburg could be on the Supreme Court, and you pointed out that they were. They’re near polar, ideological opposite. And yet, they went to the opera together, and they were friends. And it was a genuinely warm relationship. And that made me hopeful. And I thought, well, if they can. So talk about that for a minute, because that’s an example of the kind of civility you’re arguing for. Is that is that right?
David French 47:01
Yeah, it is. Absolutely. So if you are Scalia, and you’re Ginsburg, you are you neither one of them back down from their principles and convictions, but neither one of them ever act away from their mutual affection and respect. Right. And that’s how America a very increasingly diverse country, because our differences are growing, they’re not shrinking. It’s that level of Look, it’s too much to ask for all of us to have a bestie on the other side of the aisle, that’s naive. Okay, that’s not Yeah,
Robert Bryce 47:36
civility. But civility is not naive.
David French 47:38
civility is not naive. A basic level of human decency is not naive. And what I talked about is rediscovering an actual concept of what tolerance is, is not naive, because tolerance has is a word that’s often distorted, and its meaning and, and people will often say I’m quite tolerant person, because I like people of every background, like I, I like them, they’re awesome. But tolerance really actually is supposed to mean not a endorsement of a person, but an acceptance of a person in spite of things that you find problematic. And, and so, so my thing is not, I’m calling for Kuhn, I’m not calling for Kumbaya, I’m just calling for sort of basic decency and humanity. And and, to go back to words, George Washington used to quote from the book of Micah, that Lin Manuel Miranda re popularized in the musical Hamilton, when George Washington wrote to the Hebrew congregation of Rhode Island, to talk to, you know, the most persecuted one of the most persecuted religious minorities in the world, who wonders what is their place in this new republic? And, and Washington Road, every man shall sit under his own vine and his own fig tree, and no one will make him afraid. And that is, that’s from the prophet Micah. And it’s a phrase, it’s a verse that Washington referred to almost 50 times. And his personal writings is an aspiration of this republic. And it’s, it’s very simple. It says, you can make a home here. That’s, that’s the American promise, you can make a home here. And you say, Look, I know, I know, Washington failed in that way. He was a slave owner. I know lots of different you know, that, that the a lot of the American story is trying to reach that aspiration, but it’s a worthy aspiration. And it’s one that dates back to the founding of our republic.
Robert Bryce 49:34
Now, let me go back toward the end of your book about you know, and you talk about fracturing the bonds of community and that and you quote john adams our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other and you want to read this paragraph because I think it’s Well, I mean, it’s, it’s beautifully written, you said in the presence of that greater love the least I can do is to Commit to show a more Ordinary Love, a love that asks us to live with decency and honor. It’s a love that asks us to fulfill the purpose of humankind as articulated in Micah six, eight, to do justice to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. There is no solution to our national crisis, absent those three cardinal virtues. So, but the idea of humility, particularly under this presidency, of those three, justice and mercy, that humility seems to be the one part that is really missing in all of this, they really have my own ideology versus yours or his or whatever is that? How do you see that? Because you’ve used the mica that citation many times?
David French 50:41
Yeah. So I think that the understanding these three interlocking moral responsibilities is very key. And the do justice part is the part that is sort of in the seek do seek justice, depending on you know, a lot that some of the translation translations, that’s the easy part. Now, that’s the this is what’s right, this is what’s right, you know, the hashtag activism that they’re getting into the streets. This is what’s right. And yes, that’s part of our obligation to seek justice. But we forget the other two and loving mercy means, Look, my political opponent is also a human being created in the image of God worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. That’s the loving mercy part. And then the walking humbly. This one, I think you’re right, is the hardest one of all. And because it says the, one of the cores of walking humbly, is there’s got to be a voice in the back of your mind, this is I might be wrong. I need to learn, I need to keep learning. And you’re familiar with this in the energy world? is there is there some the complexity of climate and energy and power generation and economic development, and it hurts my head?
Robert Bryce 51:49
It’s like, it’s incredibly complex.
David French 51:52
In Korea. It’s, it’s so complicated. And so it seems to me that it’s almost like the more complicated something. Here’s another thing that’s incredibly complicated. How do you unwind the effects of 345 years of established legal racial discrimination defended by violence? So from 1619 to 1865, there was slavery from being from the Civil War till 1964, there was segregation and Jim Crow, that’s almost 350 years of formalized racial discrimination defended by violence, you don’t get rid of it in 56 years of very contentious change since the Civil Rights Act. That’s complicated stuff. And yet, we’ve got all kinds of people running around saying my way the highway on this incredibly complicated issue, to where even people in good faith who are seeking to solve the same problem if they don’t agree with each other 100% become 100. They might even be 80% friends, but they view an 80% friend as 100% enemy. And that’s that lack of humility.
Robert Bryce 52:57
Right? Well, so let me shift this because you’re a big basketball fan. I know and your Memphis Grizzlies, right, and you’ve you’ve in some of your your email blasts, you include your favorite clips, john Moran, who you’re rooting for in the finals in the basket and who do you think’s gonna win and who you’re rooting for?
David French 53:15
So I think it’s right now the Lakers are in the driver’s seat. I’m rooting for the Lakers. Overall, I’m rooting for the Lakers. against the nuggets. I’m rooting for the heat over the Celtics. I love this heat team. I mean, this is our show. It’s
Robert Bryce 53:26
so exciting. Yeah, I mean, our heroes unbelievable.
David French 53:31
Yes, Tyler. He wrote Kentucky basketball.
I grew up a few miles from Rupp Arena,
Robert Bryce 53:38
by the way. Yes, right. Yeah,
David French 53:39
yes. So I’m rooting for the late so I grew up in in Kentucky, most of my childhood in Kentucky. They had no pro basketball team. So you in the 80s when you’re sort of coming of age, you had to choose and you had to choose between the Lakers and the Celtics. And I chose the Showtime Lakers over bird Celtics. And from that day forward, I’ve always had affection for the Lakers. But then when I moved back to Tennessee, you gotta adopt the team, you know, so yeah, and I my family’s from my dad’s side of my family’s from the Memphis area. So I have a lot of connections to Memphis and right. So I love the Grizzlies. But my second team under the Grizzlies is the Lakers. And LeBron is the goat. So
Robert Bryce 54:19
he’s amazing, just been amazing. And they look really tough. I’ve been pulling for the nuggets, I don’t think they can beat him. But I’m hoping I’m pulling for the heat. But the Spurs are my team, but he won’t get. But let’s get back to the divide as it relates to sports, because that’s the other part that the division between the NFL and the NBA. And I’ve talked to a number of friends of mine people who I like and you know, I consider dear friends. I’m not watching the NBA because of their support for Black Lives Matter. Right. I can’t stand it right and then and oh, and then the NFL had to follow him and I thought well wait a minute, you know, but it seems to me another example of this divide where as I see it, the NBA is a player’s League and the NFL is the owners. Right. And so that LeBron has been perhaps among the most outspoken professional athletes of this generation, and been very much more forward about these issues than Michael Jordan ever was. And I mean, you maybe you go back to Bill Russell, but Bill Russell didn’t have the power, in terms of his presence is a player that that LeBron does today. How do you see that? As the question is this, I’m giving you a homily here. The question is this, how do you see sports that or can sports overcome the divide? Are they part of that possibility of bridging this some of these divides?
David French 55:36
Yeah, in, in theory, there’s a possibility of, of sports bridging some of these divides. And I think that often times they actually do, but it’s getting harder and harder right now. So I think what’s, what’s the more important thing is for us to be able to accept these accept athletes for who they are. And, and look, I mean, if, as I, you know, as I told you, early on, I grew up as a as a Christian conservative, if I was only going to watch entertainment, were the people that that from the this from singers to actors to you name, it reflected my values, it was going to be slim pickins. Indeed, you know. And so from an early age you, you learn to take the good and celebrate the good and respectfully disagree when you respectfully disagree. And I’m really tired of this idea that says, if an athlete and if an athlete is outspoken on a cause, and I disagree with him, that’s the only prism through which I’m going to view him. Let’s take LeBron, for example. I strongly disagree with LeBron about his what he said about China, for example, in his sort of defense to the NBA commercial relationships with China. I also know this, if you’re going to talk about a human being who has been a role model, as a husband, a father, a member of a community, lifting up people who have less opportunity that he does, LeBron James is where we’re actually blessed to have this guy is sort of the number one superstar in basketball, and, you know, as a holistic basis, you look at this guy and all of the aspects of his life. And you ask yourself, if I was given if I would grew up in single parent home, and was given countless piles of millions of dollars in cash and age, like say 19. And, and revered around the country, and ultimately the world, what kind of human being would I turn into? And I think it would take an awful lot of hubris for me to say that I would turn into a person who’s proven to be the kind of man that LeBron James is. And I disagree with LeBron James on things, but I respect him and I respect the man he’s become. And I think that that’s part of the grace with which we need to view people with grace. And we need to put ourselves in their shoes. And in my friend, Jim Garrity had a really awesome, our email that he sent out, he’s with a national review, about this very issue. And he said, Why don’t you just put yourself in the shoes of these athletes and the NBA. So the league is white, about 80%, African American, a lot of these guys came from these communities that are subjected that where there’s a lot of police brutality, there’s a lot of, you know, there’s a lot of injustice, and they have millions of dollars, they’ve left it, but they still have webs of relationships back in these communities that go back to their childhood, they have all of this money, they have all of this sort of theoretical cultural power. And yet all of the problems that existed when they were growing up there are still there. And it creates not only a sense of frustration, but it creates also a sense of obligation. And a lot of these guys that says, Wait, what if I’ve been given 100 million dollars for, you know, it’s not all just to make my life opulent and awesome and fantastic. I also have, you know, you know, that, with great power comes great responsibility, all of these privileges carry with them obligations, and I think so this is something that’s coming from the heart and, and, frankly, we need to listen to more people tell tell their experiences in this country, and stop believing that our own prism in our own the way that we’ve grown up and in the environment that we’ve lived in, is reflective of the environment that others live in. Sure. So I’ll just give
Robert Bryce 59:44
you I’ll just give you I think that’s good. And I mean, I’ll make one quick observation about LeBron. I’m amazed by as you know, at age 35. How well he still playing but what is impressive is that there’s never been a hint of scandal around him. Oh no extramarital affairs, no, you know, no skin, no dress. No, you know, no arrests, no guns. No, you know, and and, you know, grew up in Akron as you point out, you know, in very modest circumstances. So, yeah, I agree. And I think that that’s, you know, but that that ability in comparison between what happened to Colin Kaepernick in the NFL versus what is in the NBA, I think it’s part of this other divide. Right. And you mentioned in the book, I think about, you know, the NBA is very much embraced by Urban, you know, urban kids, right. And blue and, and whereas NFL is much more in the red America. And that was partly how they responded, kind of reflecting that to the issue of race, I think which, anyway, let me let me, I think that that Well, okay, so you’re for the Lakers, I’ll forgive you on that one.
David French 1:00:48
But hey, the nuggets are great fun to watch. And tomorrow, I got lucky.
Robert Bryce 1:00:52
Jamal Murray from Kentucky. I mean, he’s made some unbelievable shots. Just incredible. So just a couple last things, David, and then I’ll let you go because we’ve been talking more than an hour. So you, obviously very well read, what books are you reading now? And who do you like? What do you when you’re, I know you’re consumed with your work? And obviously, you’re hard working. But who do you read? And who do you admire? And in journalistic or book writing?
David French 1:01:17
Yeah, you know, I go back and forth. I go back and forth between reading history and reading fiction. And so I’m going to fiction stage right now. And I don’t have anything particularly original to say about what I’m reading right now in fiction, because I got so excited by the dune trailer that I’m rereading Dune. Okay, for maybe the eighth time. I don’t know. Wow. Wow. I’ve read do I love Dune i think is a single the other Dune books in the series. I don’t like as much but the, the, the standalone novel Dune, I think it’s the best single volume science fiction work that I’ve read, period.
Robert Bryce 1:02:00
So I’m stuck in your sci fi and you’re a sci fi fan. I
David French 1:02:03
Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So you know, I have the privilege of getting just a ton of books early on, like, you know, right, hot off the presses. But I I have to say a book that is, maybe it’s about a year old, a year and a half old, I can’t remember. But if you’ve not read it, to me really helps explain this moment in our history as well or better than anything that I’ve read. And that’s the coddling of the American mind. Jonathan hight and Greg lukianoff. I cannot recommend that book highly enough. I think it’s great, really, extremely insightful. And, you know, I from a historical standpoint, I just finished reading the, like I said, I bounced between history and fiction, I just finished reading the splendid and the vile, which is the story of really from a very personal perspective of Winston Churchill in the critical days in the during the Blitz. And it was both fascinating and frustrating. It was fascinating because it really opens a window into how he lived what was his life, like during the Blitz during, you know, during the crisis moments when England stood alone. But as a sort of amateur military historian side of myself, as I wanted to know more about his perspective on the grand strategic situation, and yada yada, yada. This was much more sort of the personal side of it. But knowing that and learning that was fascinating, and what was one of the things that was really fascinating about it is how Churchill sort of sense of personal openness to personal risk sometimes verged on recklessness, during the height of the Blitz, but at the same time was sort of indispensable to who he was as a human being. The he, he couldn’t just be politically defiant of the Nazis. And he had to be personally defiant of the Nazi campaign and to
Robert Bryce 1:04:06
show to show his leadership. Yeah, Brits. let other people know he wasn’t afraid.
David French 1:04:11
Right. Right. It’s very fascinating. And so the splendid in the vile read in coddling of the American mind. Yeah. So
Robert Bryce 1:04:20
that’s, that’s three. That’s good. So last question, David. And again, my guest is David French. his new book is divided we fall which is available from all the major booksellers. So another question. Well, to see what’s the hardest part of what you do?
David French 1:04:37
The hardest part? That’s a really that’s a great question. Um, you know, I would say, the hardest part is, if you’re trying to do this job well. You’re trying to take extremely complicated things and you know, From your work in, in energy policy, you’re trying to take extremely complicated things, and explain them to people in a way that is accurate, and fair and fundamentally true. And that’s not easy. Yeah, that is not easy. And so, you know, I just had this, just to sort of give you a sense of, of, you know, the process. So I just had a big piece come out today in the Wall Street Journal, long piece about the roots of our supreme court wars, and why they’re so toxic. And to go through a 200. And, you know, to go through it from from 1800, the very end of the 18th, election of 1800, which led to and in early 1801, which led to really the first attempted court pack in American history, up to the present moment, there’s a lot of twists and turns and detours and branching trees of possibilities. And you’re trying to describe that fairly, and come up with some proposed solutions in a way that is compelling and truthful, and doesn’t leave out, you know, all of the really important things. And that’s really hard.
Robert Bryce 1:06:14
And short and short, and do it maintain 100 words. Yeah,
David French 1:06:18
exactly. I think just the mechanics of doing the job well are very difficult. The other thing is just, that just sometimes can be a nightmare, as it are the sheer hatred that comes in to being a part of that, too. having any sort of public voice. At this point in our history, there’s just an enormous amount of hatred, and it comes and goes, and when it’s a wave, there is nothing pleasant about it.
Robert Bryce 1:06:47
Well, and you and I discussed that, personally, some time ago, and I know that you and your family have been subjected to some of that, but I can’t imagine that that level of of enmity directed it at me and I, you know, I’m very compassionate about that. And pathetic, because I, you know, no one deserves that kind of those threats. But so, but so this would be a good way to then lead to the last question then. So what gives you hope? I mean, you’ve written a book about you, you’ve written a book about all these divides, and there are a lot of them, and they’re scary, and they go back a long way, and they’re about guns are about religion, or about abortion or about geography? What in looking at all of this, though, I know you’re a man of deep faith. What, what, what, what gives you hope?
David French 1:07:35
Well, I mean, from the standpoint of theology, you know, I, I understand, I mean, there’s a scripture that says, Why did the nation’s rage Why? Why did the princes plot in vain, I have faith in God’s sovereignty, and faith and God’s sovereignty over the America faith and God’s sovereignty over the world. But, and I also understand, I also understand and know from firsthand that there are an increasing number of Americans who are looking at all of these same things that that I’m seeing and saying, enough, there is something wrong here. And one of the things that’s happening that I’ve not seen in my adult lifetime of engagement in politics is the number they’re sort of like, sprouting up like flowers in the desert, are all kinds of efforts to try to figure this out. To try to create dialogue between right and left. And right now, it’s a movement that’s got a lot of individual pieces and components to it. It’s there’s sort of no overarching, you know, sort of national healing kind of movement. But there’s a lot of smart people on the right and on the left who see this. And I’ve been in rooms with people that I’ve seen people get together that I never would have thought in my life, I would see in the same room breaking bread together, not so much anymore, because the pandemic but who, who in good faith and goodwill, like
Robert Bryce 1:09:04
breaking breaking bread on zoom.
David French 1:09:08
And in fact, you know, later this afternoon, I’m going to have a zoom meeting with just such a group of people. A lot of smart engaged people with big platforms, in lots of influence are saying Holy smokes, something is going on, and we got to do something about it. And, and what I found in talking to them universally is when they do use their platform to say that the response of sort of relief and hope they get from other people is always surprises them and how extensive it is. And and that is, you know, that’s one thing too, just to go full circle. We talked about my Sunday newsletter, my Sunday newsletter often hits on those themes. And, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the fact it hits on those themes, and it is also the thing for which I’ve gotten the most overwhelming response have anything I’ve ever written. And because I do think that there is a there are people who are like thirsty in the desert, for an end, they want to figure stuff out and they want to have positions and convictions on issues. But they also don’t want to hate people who disagree. And they don’t want to live in a nation where the the dominant response to disagreement is hatred.
Robert Bryce 1:10:23
No. Well, that’s great. That’s and that’s a great way to end. This this. This this interview. Anything else you want to add? David before we before we sign off here, we’ve covered a lot we’re covered
David French 1:10:35
a lot of good grounds
Robert Bryce 1:10:37
know this john, john john Moran to LeBron.
David French 1:10:41
Well, we just we don’t we need to schedule our john Moran podcast for we do.
Robert Bryce 1:10:45
I’m trying to figure out who my favorite player is now. You know, I used to be kawhi Leonard before he left the Spurs. He broke my heart. But anyway, well, that’s a different discussion. David, thank you so much. Your book your new book is divided we fall America’s secession threat and how to restore our nation, you can subscribe to his newsletter and go to the dispatch comm or dispatch.org. Just dispatch
David French 1:11:12
the dispatch COMM The dispatch,
Robert Bryce 1:11:14
dispatch comm so please get his book. subscribe to the newsletter. This has been the power hungry podcast if you like it go to rate this podcast comm slash power hungry, give it 14 or 15 1618 stars whatever you think we deserve. Again, thanks for listening, and I will see you on the next episode of the power hungry podcast.