David French wrote some great articles in the past but increasingly his work has grown tone-deaf. He just doesn't get it.
Here's the short version: Tucker Carlson has gained a lot of attention by pointing to the deeper spiritual crisis in America. Which is so important! At Politicon 2018, the best panel I was on dealt with precisely this. The high suicide rate, spread of marijuana, high amounts of autism and behavioral problems, psychotropic drugs, depression, pornography addiction, and sexual dissatisfaction all point to a reality that only the most sheltered people can miss:
It is not about the economy, stupid. People in America are miserable. The statistics don't mean anything if people are miserable. We saw that during the Obama years so clearly. The statistics said the economy was recovering while we, in our personal lives, found ourselves feeling more desperate, nervous, and alone. The statistics say that children raised by gay couples do splendidly, and then when Brittany Klein and I go out and interview people who had gay parents, we find that they're miserable.
The statistics say that everyone supports trans and gay rights, and then you go out and you talk to people, and they feel freaked out and rejected by people close to them because they can see that sexual radicalism causes harm to individuals and those who care about them. The statistics say that women are making more progress than ever before, and yet you talk to women and they want decent stable men to marry and support them. The statistics say men have all these advantages and then you talk to men and you find them constantly besieged by two weighty pressures: all the old manly obligations to protect people around them, and new obligations to atone for centuries of patriarchy.
The statistics say that colleges are doing well, and then you talk to people and everyone hates everything colleges are doing. Liberals hate colleges for costing so much and being so racist. Conservatives hate colleges for being biased and discriminatory.
White people feel angry. Black people feel angry. Latinos wonder why the heck everyone is screaming at each other.
We're miserable. Tucker Carlson got it right. So what does David French do in response? He quotes statistics at Tucker to say we need to stop complaining. In summary, David French thinks we need to keep electing the same establishment politicians who have kept the policies in place that got us to this misery. We're supposed to focus on vague cultural changes that nobody can take responsibility for, and console ourselves by looking at statistics that deny us the reality of what we experience.
David French's article reminds me of 2015, when my friend Heather Barwick published an article, "Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting" about how painful it was to be raised in a gay home. Sarah Elizabeth Williams in Salon responded in a rebuttal saying Barwick was wrong because the statistics show kids in gay homes are totally happy.
To the devil with statistics. We know what's going on with our lives. This is why Bernie and Donald rose in power and stature. They heard us whereas Hillary and the Republican robots kept giving us statistics.
So David thinks that Tucker is encouraging victimhood because Tucker is putting politicians on notice that people are fed up and want real change. David thinks things don't need to change except incrementally, and barely at all, on some personal level. David is like the Washington DC people whom I reached out to, for help, when the academy was driving me from my tenured job, and they told me I should be patient and see if I might find allies in the professoriate. I remember telling one such bright light bulb about the knife marks on my office door and he said, "have you tried inviting your liberal colleagues to lunch?"
David thinks Tucker is just projecting people's personal problems on public policy. No, David. That's now how this works. Tucker is right. Lots of people on the right and left and in between no longer want to play this William F. Buckley, Oxford debate game where we all post hyperlinks and block quotes and beat each other up over statistics. We want to stop being so miserable. Some of this is our personal choices.
But we also live in a country run by a government. And we need the government to do its part too.
We need our taxes to go to decent schools and colleges. We need to fire massive numbers of bureaucrats who run countless agencies that affect our lives, and who run them badly and wastefully with a negative impact on us.
We need the government to stop kowtowing to special interests and start doing the job they are supposed to do. We need the political parties to stop sending up cynical warmed-over hacks who spew the same proposals we have heard for 40 years.
Tucker hit the mark. Listen to what he says.