Final Thoughts on the David French Campaign That Didn’t Happen

 
david-and-nancy-french

David and Nancy French.

Last week I wrote a piece exhorting David French not to mount an independent bid for president. He ultimately chose not to run, not because of my piece, which I doubt he ever saw, but for very good reasons of his own.

I have admired David French as a writer for some time and have read his columns regularly at National Review Online. Since learning more about him in the days after news broke of his potential run, I have grown to admire him all the more for the example and high bar he sets as a husband, father, and patriot. While he is in the #NeverTrump camp and I am in the #NeverHillary camp, I understand and respect the rationale behind his views and suspect he would reciprocate.

When French announced his decision not to run he revealed that members of his family were harassed and threatened by members of the pro-Trump camp, though it is unclear whether they were officially connected to the Trump campaign. His wife, Nancy French, wrote an article at Patheos detailing some of the despicable shots that members of the political media and their social media followers began taking at the French family after news broke that French was being recruited to run.

What was done to the Frenches was sickening and the people behind it should be ashamed. Alas, their lack of decency and decorum leads me to suspect they have no sense of shame.

The combined assault on French by the left-wing political media and Trump supporters (whether they had any official connection to the campaign or not) was disgusting and disturbing. Nancy French was exactly right when she said:

If you ever wonder how we ended up with such unlikeable candidates or why normal Americans won’t consider running for elected office, ask Politico.

My call for French not to run was from a #NeverHillary perspective. I did not see a path to victory for him and did not want him to be the spoiler candidate to ensure Hillary Clinton’s election in November. I do not want to be, and hope that my original piece was not, associated with the effort to harass, demonize, or in any way denigrate David French and his family.

For the most part I am glad French chose not to run, but after seeing the way he was treated when his name was floated, there is a part of me that wishes he would have. The telephone thugs and keyboard jockeys who harassed the Frenches are awful human beings who thrive on making other people miserable. They don’t deserve the satisfaction of his not running, even though his decision had nothing to do with them.

The best thing that seems to have come out of all of this is that French’s name and profile have been elevated, at least within the world of political writers and observers. Where all of this will lead is not knowable now, but perhaps it will lead to future opportunities for him to run for office. Mrs. French has well-articulated reasons why normal Americans won’t consider running for office. Perhaps when and if the time comes Mr. French will be reminded that, as the philosopher Edmund Burke is supposed to have said, “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.”

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  1. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen
    @FrozenChosen

    I became aware of David French when he organized Evangelicals for Romney in 2011 and I’ve liked him ever since.  I also enjoy his well written articles for National Review.

    While I would’ve love to pull the lever for him in November, I certainly don’t blame him for not wanting to put his family through the abuse he would take from both Left wing and Right wing nut jobs.

    Just because our country is going over the cliff Mr French is under no obligation to try to catch it at the bottom of the ravine.

    • #1
  2. Mate De Inactive
    Mate De
    @MateDe

    I think Mrs. French has a great point about regular people being afraid to run for office, especially conservatives. They will dig up any embarressing, nominally bad story from your past and toss it out there for the world to see. See Mitch Daniels, who I believe didn’t run for personal reasons.

    Over a lifetime of living who can really say there is nothing that the press can’t turn into something, that could discredit their campaign or embarress the candidate. Also the twitter vitrol is horrendous, but with social media unfortunatly, they are sewers and have to be taken from where they came from

    • #2
  3. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Mate De:I think Mrs. French has a great point about regular people being afraid to run for office, especially conservatives. They will dig up any embarressing, nominally bad story from your past and toss it out there for the world to see. See Mitch Daniels, who I believe didn’t run for personal reasons.

    That’s secondary at this point anyway. Unless you’re rich, or have very rich people behind you, “normal people” don’t win the Presidency and never have. And among the ranks of the professional politicians that usually run from Congress or the state governorships, not only do I not see any poor ones, it’s getting harder to see one that’s genuinely in the middle class for very long. Reaching that level of power seems to result in net worth growing drastically. So Mr. Smith may go to Washington, and he may even decide to run for President, but unless he has a cadre of sugar daddies behind him, Mr. Smith is going right back home. “Anyone can grow up to be President” seems only to be true if one gets very rich and famous or ascends to high political office.

    • #3
  4. Richard Finlay Member
    Richard Finlay
    @RichardFinlay

    Perhaps what is needed is for a respectable third party candidate to only get on the ballot in non-battleground states. Since they would not really affect the outcome, perhaps they could attract a respectable percentage of the vote total.  Could they thereby become viable in future contests?  If I work hard at it, I can imaging a libertarian-patriotic and/or a socialist-racialist aggregation siphoning enough votes from the Republicans/Democrats to cause considerable havoc.

    • #4
  5. Nathanael Ferguson Contributor
    Nathanael Ferguson
    @NathanaelFerguson

    Douglas: That’s secondary at this point anyway. Unless you’re rich, or have very rich people behind you, “normal people” don’t win the Presidency and never have.

    I take her point more broadly. The fact that normal people are reticent to run for office is not exclusive to the office of president. It’s also true of congressional, gubernatorial, and probably to state legislative offices as well. The halls of Congress are filled with elected members who would come across as pretty nutty to most people. Although there are some truly salt of the earth type people there who we can be proud of. But they are few and far between.

    • #5
  6. Brad2971 Member
    Brad2971
    @

    Nathanael Ferguson:

    Douglas: That’s secondary at this point anyway. Unless you’re rich, or have very rich people behind you, “normal people” don’t win the Presidency and never have.

    I take her point more broadly. The fact that normal people are reticent to run for office is not exclusive to the office of president. It’s also true of congressional, gubernatorial, and probably to state legislative offices as well. The halls of Congress are filled with elected members who would come across as pretty nutty to most people. Although there are some truly salt of the earth type people there who we can be proud of. But they are few and far between.

    I have to think that, among those 34 people who were on the California US Senate primary ballot, were some fairly normal people. Even if you don’t consider Kamala Harris, Loretta Sanchez, or Ron Unz to be “normal,” most of the rest of society somewhat does.

    • #6
  7. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    It is hard for a normal person to run for office, most people don’t like public attention at all. To run for office you have to either desire public attention or get over the normal desire to not have public attention.

    That all being said, I agree with the general sentiment that social media has made running for higher office an exercise in suppressing reaction more difficult than being a member a British soldier wearing a bearskin hat.

    Donald Trump gets around this by reacting to every slight – no matter how small.

    • #7

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