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‘Principled’ Conservatives Like David French Gaslight Americans To Protect Their Status

principled conservative David French talks into microphone
Image CreditMSNBC/YouTube

To no one’s surprise, David French argues the conservative case for voting Democrat.


If you’re a conservative who doesn’t like murder, cares about the economy, and wants to see America remain unchallenged as global hegemon, you should help reelect President Joe Biden — at least, that’s what The New York Times’ resident pearl clutcher and conservative kapo David French seems to believe. 

In a Sunday column headlined “Why Haley Voters Should Support Biden,” French argued that Republican voters who find themselves homeless following the former South Carolina governor’s withdrawal from the 2024 contest are better represented by the incumbent Democrat than by former President Donald Trump. 

Referencing remarks Biden made before his “rousing” State of the Union address, French claims Haley supporters are aligned with Biden, not Trump, on what really matters. “Biden, by contrast, acknowledged differences of opinion with Haley voters but argued that agreement on democracy, decency, the rule of law and support for NATO should unite Haley voters against Trump,” he wrote.

Focusing on NATO expansion and out-of-context Trump quotes, French falsely asserts that Biden’s approach to foreign policy “has made America stronger.” Biden’s laundry list of shortcomings (the botched and bloody Afghanistan withdrawal, emboldening of Iran while employing agents sympathetic to the terror sponsor in the Defense Department, stiffing Israel to shore up electoral support from Muslims, and failing to effectively halt Chinese aggression, just to name a few) evidently does not weaken him or the United States.

Nor does Biden’s abysmal economy, which French assures us isn’t real. After all, he writes, “Biden’s economic stewardship has been sound.” Unemployment is below 4 percent, stocks are soaring, and net worths are increasing, so stop your bellyaching.

You are supposed to ignore the compounding effects of unceasing inflation, that 1.2 million foreign-born workers (including illegals) gained jobs in February while job creation for native-born Americans has been stagnant for years (the massive overstating of employment numbers, in general, is a whole separate issue), and that housing prices have reached an all-time high because, as French puts it, “we’ve struggled less than our peer competitors.”

I don’t know about you, but nothing sounds like “economic stewardship” to me like a federal budget proposal of $7.3 trillion and a nation of renters forced to deliver DoorDash to one another until the end of time.

But, to be fair, French flatly lying about economics and foreign policy is to be expected. It’s campaign season, and he’s a partisan hack disguised as an evangelical Christian. He needs to pull for his guy, credit where credit is due.

What’s far more interesting (although perhaps “diabolical” is a more accurate term) and worth exploring are his attempts at gaslighting the public about the “rule of law,” “democracy,” and “decency.” And French is hardly alone in these efforts.

This past February, at the fourth annual Principles First Summit — a meeting of “principled Americans on the right and center-right who [are] concerned about the health of American democracy” — an assembly of Never Trump and anti-populist luminaries, some of whom eschew the label “conservative,” reiterated their opposition to Trump’s candidacy and their commitment to the institutional bulwarks committed to preventing his re-ascendancy.

The Principles First crowd, of which French is most definitely a part, is terrified that a second Trump administration might imperil American self-governance and the rule of law by undermining democracy and delegitimizing our institutions. Yet despite these fears, no one affiliated with this contingent offers compelling arguments as to how Trump will lead to America’s demise.

Judge Michael Luttig, one of the Never Trump movement’s leading legal experts, who famously argued that Trump should be barred from holding office due to violating the Constitution’s insurrection clause, said at the summit that “Trump has tested America’s democracy, the Constitution, and the rule of law beyond the breaking point over the past four years, and he promises to break [them] on his way to the White House in 2024.”

“That’s not hyperbole; that’s what he promises to do, and that’s why his followers will elect him again to the highest office in the land if that’s possible,” Luttig said.

Quick to insist that “America’s Democracy and the rule of law have never been tested like this before” and that the reelection of Trump would “fulfill[] the founders’ greatest fears that America would have fallen to demagoguery,” Luttig appeared unbothered by the left’s campaign of unceasing lawfare against the former president that disregards all American political norms, the comical amount of evidence implicating President Joe Biden in illegal activity, and government persecution of Christians. Somehow, none of these appear to imperil democracy or the rule of law.

To people like Luttig and many more of his fellow “principled” Americans, left-wing demagoguery — the thing that is actually denigrating our institutions and capacity for self-governance — doesn’t matter. To these people, institutions, norms, et al. are not meant to benefit the American people; they are intended to ensconce the select few’s status as political, and therefore cultural, elites. Left-wing tyranny threatens neither their status nor the institutions that enabled them to attain it, but Trump and the political movement built around him do.

French similarly, and dishonestly, bemoans Republican calls to “defund the police,” which amount to little more than slight budget cuts for bloated federal law-enforcement agencies that do little more than terrorize the American people.

To people like French and Luttig, the “rule of law” is nothing more than a means to an end — as is “democracy,” as is “decency.” The American government, corporate media, and Big Tech actively manipulate what you hear and see so they can control how you think and what you do. They’re not just attempting to manipulate political outcomes; they’re attempting to manipulate reality. There is nothing decent or democratic about it.

[READ: The American Stasi Controls What You Hear And See To Control What You Think And Do]

Decency is rolling over and taking it. Democracy is paying to let it happen.

French and his peers have no actual beliefs. Their priority is further entrenching themselves among the powerful. They will sell their constituents down the river while waxing poetic about the “norms” and “decency” their very actions erode.

Referring to the populist or New Right (represented by Trump) and institutional (represented by Haley, French, and Principles First) wings of the Republican Party, French writes, “It’s hard to imagine the two factions coexisting for much longer.” He is absolutely correct but for the wrong reasons.

“The New Right is perhaps best known for its populism and its heated contempt for elitism and ‘limousine liberals,’” wrote the late Sam Francis in the essay “Message From MARs: The Social Politics of the New Right.” “Moreover, the New Right voices no small amount of antibusiness (not to say anticapitalist) rhetoric. Bankers, multinational corporations, Big Business, and The Rich occupy a distinct circle in the New Right vision of the Inferno.”

The New Right is composed of “Middle American Radicals” (MARs) who are most identifiable by their resentful attitude toward a cynical government and its patronage network. French and his fellow institutionalists are part of this network, and they are blind to the fact their actions created the conditions for their own loss of credibility while simultaneously facilitating the rightful radicalization of their countrymen. Decades of fruitless foreign wars, free-trade adventurism, despotic unaccountable government, and weaponization of the media strip-mined the country of its political, social, and cultural capital.

Francis writes that MARs’ attitude toward their opposition “points to a sense of resentment and exploitation, mainly economic but also broader, that is directed upwards as well as downwards. It points to distrust of decision-makers in [the] state and economy as well as to fear of the economically depressed. It points also to the frustration of aspirations, to an alienation of loyalties, and to a suspicion of established institutions, authorities, and values.”

Are people not right to be angry? The people they were supposed to trust, who they had no choice but to trust, betrayed them. So, naturally, the MARs’ woes manifested into “political, cultural, and moral expression” that led to Trump winning the presidency in 2016, thus marking the first time since Pat Buchanan’s unsuccessful bid for the Republican Party’s nomination in 1992 that any major conservative political figure pushed back on the neoliberal consensus in both economics and foreign policy. The “cosmopolitan ethic,” practiced by elite institutionalists, which made them accountable only to their own interests, faced an existential crisis by way of the democratic process.

The Republican Party, more specifically the Republican electorate, has realized what’s happening. They are aware that there is an unaccountable, managerial bourgeoisie seeking to undermine them any time they attempt to assert their sovereignty.

And the reality is that French and his peers are aware of how their actions damage the nation and our republican methods of governance. Rather, they view the situation through a slightly different moral lens: We are the good guys, Trump and his base are the bad guys; they might stop us and make us less rich, so whatever we do is for the benefit of the nation because we are the good guys.

As pointed out in Francis’ essay, ruling classes require a “moral and legal basis” depending on the “logical and necessary consequences of doctrines and beliefs that are generally recognized and accepted” to justify their position. So they invoke and pervert “democracy” and the “rule of law,” knowing very well that those devices are what will hold them accountable in their nightmare scenario. If your worst dreams are about to come true, you can throw the baby out with the bathwater to prevent them. You can cheer on the destruction of norms because the only norm that really matters is the preservation of your status.

Institutionalists like French have lost their credibility. They have squandered the American people’s goodwill and irrevocably harmed the republic to protect their status as the special people.

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