Dear David French,
I know that you turned down William Kristol’s suggestion that you run for president, and your reasons were quite persuasive. However you need to reconsider.
First, let’s put aside the main objection that everyone will bring up, about winning. Remember the film The Candidate, where Robert Redford asks Peter Boyle for a guarantee that he would win the election? Peter Boyle says something to the effect of, “I’ll write your guarantee on this piece of paper.” He then scrawls something on a scrap piece of paper, folds it up, and has it passed around the room to Redford. When Redford opens it up, it says, “You won’t win.” Redford smiles as if to say, “All right then. I get it.” It was then that he understood: It wasn’t about him. It wasn’t about whether he won the election. It was about, as it always should be, ideas and principles.
And so it is now. You won’t win. But it’s not about you. It’s about conservative ideas, sound moral principles, and basic human decency. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton lack these traits. You have them. Others may as well, but they have all either refused the call, or they do not have the opportunity to make any kind of impact. You are one of the few people who has that opportunity.
Right now, America is failing because of a lack of leadership. This election has become a national disgrace, as have the two major parties. People need an alternative. People need a choice. But right now they aren’t getting one.
You should run for president to give people a choice, to give decent people a chance to vote without violating their consciences, to give people a name to write in on the ballot.
You should run for president to spread conservative ideas. This will be the first election in years without any kind of voice for conservatism. While there are a handful of conservative pundits who have yet to worship the Golden Calf, the ranks are growing thin. At the same time, no pundit has the national stature and access to the press that a presidential campaign has. Polls show consistently that this election is being driven by low information voters. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have based their campaigns on selling messages and making assertions that are simply untrue, and the public is buying it. America is literally being destroyed from lack of knowledge (Hosea 4: 6). Both the press and the education system have failed the American people by substituting lies for facts and by teaching that wrong means right, and now we are seeing the results. If America is to have any hope at all, there needs to be someone who can stand up in Trump’s and Clinton’s presence, humbly point out their lies, and then speak the truth.
You should run because decent conservative candidates at all levels need to be supported. Usually, this is done by a presidential campaign, yet Trump has shown absolutely no desire to promote either conservatism or conservative candidates. Someone needs to step in and help funnel money and resources to the people who can make a difference in the years to come. There is more at stake here than merely the presidential election.
Finally, you should run because groundwork needs to be laid for 2020. A lot of people have placed their hopes on some kind of GOP reform after 2016, but you know and I know that this will not happen. The party apparatus has made it clear that at all cost it is committed to business as usual in Washington DC, even going so far as to make a corrupt, establishment liberal its figurehead in order to keep the pork machine from coming to an end. And it shows no desire to change. Further, once a party has become infected with the specter of racist nationalism, there is no going back. The GOP is now so tainted that even if it did reform, it has no hope of ever gaining credibility again. While we may have to write off 2016, it would be a shame to write off 2020 as well by placing our hopes in a party that is being destroyed, and should be destroyed. However, the time to act is now, not after the 2016 election. It is unrealistic to expect a third party to win its first national election. It is realistic to think of a first national election as a time for getting out the message, for building a party infrastructure, and for preparing for the next election. So, when will that third party’s first election be? 2016, 2020, 2024? Or, are we still going to be talking about this on our deathbeds? “Oh, we should have created a third party when we had the chance, but no one could ever get up the nerve or initiative.” The clock is already tolling. There is no more time to waste. The time is now.
Please reconsider your decision not to run for president in 2016. If you don’t run, who will?