Last evening I had the opportunity and ultimately great pleasure of attending David French’s speaking event host by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute and co-sponsored by the National Review Institute. It was a cozy little event in Madison at the Madison Club right next to the Hilton and the Capitol Dome. There couldn’t have been any more than probably about ninety people there, but I honestly couldn’t say if that felt like a lot or nothing at all. I can say that with the exception of my close friend Dan, who I dragged along with me, I was the youngest guest by what seemed a fairly wide margin. This didn’t really surprise me but it was immediately noticeable.
This wasn’t in any way problematic however as they were some of the most polite and soft spoken people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. It was an honor to meet Mr. French himself and he was very willing to make small talk with all of us guests. Over the course of introducing myself to him I also got a hand shake meeting with the president of the WPRI, Mr. Nichols, and he as well simply exuded earnestness and intelligence.
Getting to the event itself, the topic of the evening was polarization. There were several big idea main points to be sluiced out of the conversation but one that Mr. French chose to directly emphasize to us was what he called his “fake math” equation of LGP=I Squared. What he meant by this was an explanation of sorts of just how polarization and the much derided echo chambers work. When Large Groups Polarize they coalesce around ignorance and intolerance. This is a symptom that can apply to any group as he wisely pointed out to us.
The other talking point that seemed to carry the most weight came during the Q and A. One of the guests in attendance asked if Mr. French thought there could be a role for the draft and national service in healing the polarization that our nation is suffering from. He quickly rejected the idea of the draft because of the impact it would have on the readiness and over all effectiveness of our armed forces but it was what he said immediately afterwards that was so interesting. He pointed out that the United States seems to be developing a warrior class. He made the point that more and more soldiering is becoming a family affair and its not uncommon to find it in second and third generations. Not only that but after over a decade of warfare in the middle East now there is also a higher percentage of first time volunteers than we have had for quite a long time in the United States. I won’t expand on it here and now because I would like to ruminate on it further, but I found that idea both shocking because I hadn’t stopped to consider it, and also readily and easily apparently true.
Taken in its totality it was more than worth the price of admission, and even with the long drive there and back factored in I regret not a thing. Having attended this I now eagerly look forward to the Fall dinner at WPRI with JD Vance and the discussion that he will bring to the table. Finally to anyone who is still skeptical do yourselves a favor and go to the next NRI event in your area. Just do it. You won’t regret it for even New York minute.