Here's the ultimate reminder that David French lives in a bubble and has no idea what words mean anymore.
Yes my friends, that is a real headline in an article written by the "conservative Christian" who somehow gets paid a lot of money to come up with this stuff.
I'm gonna cut to the heart of the article:
For conservatives like me who want both to defeat Trump and to begin a restoration of the fusionist principles that once defined the G.O.P., DeSantis presents a dilemma.
I think this is the biggest problem for French: He's like an unopened vintage toy from post-USSR 1993 who refuses to come out of said box because he thinks he'll lose all value if he does.
Like I said, he's stuck in a bubble. French defines "fusionist" as "an alliance between social conservatives and economic libertarians" that is "united more by ideology than by identity."
What he's saying, in essence, is that he perceives conservatism as a philosophical club of proud, stoic men who find their identity in their values, their poise, and their distinction: Those who can stand tall knowing they are the distinguished men of character and renown.
But as a millennial who wasn't even alive during the Reagan presidency, I've always associated the polished conservative "fusionist" crowd with this image:
They tie up heavy loads that are hard to carry and put them on people's shoulders, but they themselves aren't willing to lift a finger to move them. They do everything to be seen by others: They enlarge their [prayer boxes] and lengthen their tassels [that show their devotion to God]. They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘teacher' by people.
I've never been inspired, not once in my life, by the ideologue "fusionist" conservatives who were sure of their principles but refused to fight.
It is good to follow a principled man over a violent one, but men like French are quick to judge other men for fighting the battles that they will not fight in the name of posterity.
And make no mistake, French is up here on a high horse thumbing his nose at DeSantis for choosing to fight:
But whom DeSantis attacks is ultimately less important than how he does it. Republicans, after all, have long fought the left, but DeSantis does it differently, in part by abandoning fusionist commitments to free speech and limited government.
Thus, DeSantis punishes Disney for merely speaking in opposition to a Florida law that restricted instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in Florida public school classrooms. DeSantis likewise attempts to regulate social media moderation, intruding on private corporations' decisions about who to platform and what kinds of speech to moderate. He attempts to restrict speech about race and racial equality in public universities and private corporations. He's banned even private employers from imposing a Covid vaccine mandate.
When you view DeSantis as more anti-left than conservative in the classic sense, then other aspects of his rhetoric begin to make sense.
I understand French's concern about the use of political power. As I wrote about earlier this week, George Washington warned us about political faction and the centralization of power. This was the biggest concern of our founders, for they understood human nature. You cannot use the Dark Lord's One Ring for good, as it were, no matter how much you might try.
But I'm not seeing French appeal to the founders, or to writings such as the Magna Carta or John Locke that proceeded them, or to the foundation of biblical teaching that led to the creation of the free world.
Instead, there is this appeal to high-minded intellectualism and virtue – noble, yes, but vain and vapid when not matched with action. The most virtuous knight who refuses to protect his kingdom from a dragon is no knight at all (and in the end, has no virtue).
French reminds me, in a sense of the C.S. Lewis character Ransom who found himself on the planet Venus with an alien Adam and Eve in an "Ocean of Eden," as it were.
Ransom, a professor, was accompanied by a fellow academic who was quite literally possessed by the devil, and after some time on the planet, it became clear that the devil (called the "Un-man") was out to trick this alien Eve as he had done on Earth.
Ransom tried endlessly to reason with the devil: To intellectualize the battle that needed to be fought. Principle with dignity was the name of the game.
But then he realized a somber truth: The devil who possessed the Un-man was a master at philosophical thought. He was leagues ahead of the smartest and more principled man (like David French) at twisting the meaning of things. He could win any intellectual battle against any mere mortal. No matter how he tried, Ransom could not stop him from deceiving this alien Lady.
Ransom found himself acting before he knew what he had done. Some memory of boxing at his preparatory school must have awaked, for he found he had delivered a straight left with all his might on the Un-man's jaw.
Sometimes evil has to be fought. Yes, you must understand your enemy ("our battle is not against flesh and blood"), but it cannot be reasoned with using principles under names like "conservatism" and "fusionist."
But if you don't think the devil has seized much ground (like David French seems to still believe in the Year of Our Lord 2023 in clown world), perhaps the loftier approach still makes sense. Perhaps warning about human propensities for the abuse of power still seems fair when you don't understand that it is the 11th hour and Mordor is marching on Minas Tirith.
So should someone like me quiet his critique of DeSantis in the interest of defeating Trump?
I say no. I believe we can walk and chew gum at the same time, opposing Trump while upholding a vision of state power that limits its ability to "reward friends and punish enemies" so that all Americans enjoy the same rights to speak, regardless of their view of the government.
To be clear: From everything I have witnessed, DeSantis has stayed within his power as the executive in order to enact his policies. This is a far cry from men like Biden who invent new executive rights out of whole cloth by setting fire to the Constitution.
But French really seems to think this is about the ideals of total equality and fairness. We're talking about people who want to covertly teach kids about gay sex behind their parents' backs, David. We're talking about people who want to preach their religion (rainbow Marxism) while excluding (and demonizing) Christian thought in schools paid for by public tax dollars. We're talking about massive companies that have special privileges that give them an edge over their competition. We're talking about people who want to overturn our Constitution and laws through judicial activism, riots, and violence.
He simply doesn't see it. I agree with his caution about the way power is wielded, but to use yet another LOTR metaphor, he wisely cautions men not to use the Ring of Power while also telling them to not reforge the sword that was broken, that naming it something like "Anduril, Flame of the West" is problematic, and that it's not nice to point swords at orcs anyway.
Perhaps men like French don't see the battle in front of them because of such labels. To that end, maybe the label of "conservatism" needs to be destroyed. You won't find the term in any of the foundational documents that have shaped the free world, and you won't find it in the pages of Scripture. Conservatism is a mere term meant to try to convey much deeper and much older truths, not the other way around.