‘Dispatch’ senior editor David French to call for unity in divided America



The United States is starkly divided, and commentator David French said that division goes beyond politics.

“There is no single, truly important social, cultural, political or religious trend that is pulling Americans together more than it is tearing us apart,” French said.

Such division is the topic of his latest book, Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation, and of his lecture, “Divided We Fall: Understanding and Healing a Broken Land,” at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 20 in the Amphitheater. His lecture is a part of Week Four’s Chautauqua Lecture Series, themed “Many Americas: Navigating Our Divides.”

“On every front, we’re beset by polarizing forces, and those forces are far from merely political,” he said.

French is senior editor at The Dispatch, which is “fact-based reporting and commentary on politics, policy and culture — informed by conservative principles,” according to its website. He is also a columnist for Time, was a staff writer for the National Review, a fellow at the National Review Institute and was president for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree from Lipscomb University, French went on to earn his juris doctor degree from Harvard University. He later became a major in the U.S. Army Reserve and earned a Bronze Star for his service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“My daily work is focused around writing, podcasting and speaking — all things I enjoy immensely,” he said. “My motivations are pretty simple: I want to help readers and listeners understand an increasingly fractious and polarized time, and I want to do what I can to defend the classical liberal values that make this nation possible.”

Despite his conservative perspective, French left the Republican Party in 2018, and although initially saying he would vote for Donald Trump in 2016, he changed his mind before that election. 

“I want people to understand that our divisions are about far, far more than politics, and while there are political decisions that can ease the crisis of American division, the ultimate solution is more cultural and even spiritual than political,” he said.

If French had given this lecture in 2020, his message would have been different than it will be today.

“Before Jan. 6, my main task was convincing people that we’re on a truly dangerous path,” he said. But now, his task is convincing them “that there is hope for a better, more rational and reasonable future.”

“We can’t expect to continue dividing — and dividing angrily — indefinitely and hope to remain united. America has divided before,” he said. “There is no law of history or human nature that prevents it from dividing again.” 

Tags : David FrenchdispatchdivisionMany Americas: Navigating Our Dividesmorning lectureMorning Lecture Previewpoliticsweek four

The author Max Zambrano

Max Zambrano is a recent Western Kentucky University graduate in his first season at Chautauqua. At WKU, he served as editor-in-chief of the Talisman magazine and website, majored in political science and minored in journalism writing. Max has traveled to Australia and Morocco, and he hopes to visit all 50 states (28 to go). This summer, he will report on interfaith lectures and sacred song services. Let him know if you want to play backgammon on Bestor Plaza.