• Divided We Fall

  • America's Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation
  • By: David French
  • Narrated by: Sean Patrick Hopkins
  • Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (389 ratings)

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Divided We Fall

By: David French
Narrated by: Sean Patrick Hopkins
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Publisher's Summary

David French warns of the potential dangers to the country - and the world - if we don’t summon the courage to reconcile our political differences.

Two decades into the 21st century, the US is less united than at any time in our history since the Civil War. We are more diverse in our beliefs and culture than ever before. But red and blue states, secular and religious groups, liberal and conservative idealists, and Republican and Democratic representatives all have one thing in common: each believes their distinct cultures and liberties are being threatened by an escalating violent opposition. This polarized tribalism, espoused by the loudest, angriest fringe extremists on both the left and the right, dismisses dialogue as appeasement; if left unchecked, it could very well lead to secession.

An engaging mix of cutting edge research and fair-minded analysis, Divided We Fall is an unblinking look at the true dimensions and dangers of this widening ideological gap, and what could happen if we don't take steps toward bridging it. French reveals chilling, plausible scenarios of how the United States could fracture into regions that will not only weaken the country but destabilize the world.

But our future is not written in stone. By implementing James Madison’s vision of pluralism - that all people have the right to form communities representing their personal values - we can prevent oppressive factions from seizing absolute power and instead maintain everyone’s beliefs and identities across all 50 states.

Reestablishing national unity will require the bravery to commit ourselves to embracing qualities of kindness, decency, and grace towards those we disagree with ideologically. French calls on all of us to demonstrate true tolerance so we can heal the American divide. If we want to remain united, we must learn to stand together again. 

A Macmillan Audio production from St. Martin's Press

"In his admirably measured book Divided We Fall, French convincingly argues that polarization is putting America on a perilous path to disunion." (New York Times)

©2020 David French (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

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The solution!

This book is the most important book I have read on current political problems. And that is because of the solution he proposes.

You, or I, may disagree with David French about the causes of our division, and who is to blame. But that is of secondary importance. Just like it is of secondary importance how you tore your rotator cuff (or if anyone is to blame). The important question for the doctor remains how to fix it.

Most books try to solve the problem by explaining why their side is correct. And that is fine and good to have that discussion. But at some point we have to admit that Americans have some fairly fundamental disagreements and both sides are increasingly turning to the raw power of the federal government to force their views down the other's throat. That is not freedom. That is intolerance.

The solution is healthy federalism. To sane people that do not get too wrapped up in politics, "federalism" might sound like increasing federal power. But it is the opposite. It means giving states more leeway/power to let the people in each state live the way they want. It means tolerance. Even though you think someone/state is wrong, you recognize the value of letting them chose their own path in life.

Federalism means more state power vis a vis the federal government. David addresses head on the common concerns about federalism. Those concerns are not as acute as they once were, and they are certainly less troubling than the our current trajectory of forcing unpopular government across very divided communities.

The dream is people in Tennessee can love those wacky people in California even though they have some crazy ideas, and the people of California can have the same view of those in Tennessee. How can that happen? Well that may be asking too much but we know what is currently doing the opposite and causing hatred. Forcing people in these states to live the same way and value the same things as the other is causing animosity and will continue to do so.

The dream is also to have your hopes and dreams for yourself your family and your community, not be so dependent on the outcome of presidential election that you really have very little control over. I have more control over what state I live in, than I do over who becomes president.

David French is a constitutional lawyer and scholar so he sketches out how federalism can be done correctly within our constitutional framework. There are some difficulties to sort out but that is not the biggest problem for this solution. The first and biggest obstacle is helping people understand the huge advantages of federalism. That is really where the most work needs to be done and that is where this books excels. We need more people to understand the advantages of federalism so we can build the political will to implement it. That is what all fair minded, freedom loving, and tolerant people need to start focusing on. Elect a federal government whose first priority is to let California be California and let Tennessee be Tennessee.

The next time you see an issue government should address, don't think the president should do something. Think my mayor or governor should do something and the president should get out of the way and let him or her do it. We can elect a federal government that allows us to be governed the way we want. We just need to recognize the easiest, and best, way to do that is electing a federal government that allows *everyone* to be governed the way they want. EDIT:UNBELIEVABLE THAT AUDIBLE DOES NOT ALLOW PARAGRAPHS IN REVIEWS SORRY I CANT CHANGE THIS.

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Homophobic

Refers to discrimination laws as “elite demonization of evangelical faith”—ok buddy, that’s kind of a tell on your faith. Sounds hateful. Also he spent his career promoting forced childbirth. Returning so I don’t give him my money.

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How do we make our senators read this book

Seriously, can this audiobook just be played for 8 hours at a senate hearing while all our governing officials are forced to listen? The analysis of the real problem with America's conflicts is really on point. Though, I think it probably overestimates the effect of geographical bubbles, and underestimates online social media bubbles.

The proposed solutions are also mostly good and reasonable. It's very frustrating though, because those solutions would have to be enacted by those who have political office, and judging by their Twitter feeds and and television appearances that likely won't be happening anytime soon.

So if anyone happens to be protesting outside a US senator's house one day for any reason, maybe try playing this audiobook instead of loud music and chanting :D

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How to fix our divided Republic

As a left of center registered independent there were moments where I thought there was a bit of a right wing tilt to David French’s perspective. Firstly, that is French’s perspective; Second, so what. This is a well considered work on the current state of the US and what could potentially come of us if we don’t find a way to become, at least, less polarized. James Madison saw a pluralistic society as a necessity to ensure that no single group would become too powerful, and thus a threat to the Republic. According to French, the federal government’s share of the power in governing necessarily increased to meet the national challenges faced by the country, such as WWII and the cold war that followed. But things have gone too far, to the point that separate groups (left and right) seek to impose their views on others. A movement back towards more self governance by the states is overdue and needed to allow Madison’s view of a pluralistic society to flourish once again. In short, the rebirth of federalism. Given the “big sort” of people into communities of increasingly like minded people, would more tailored self governance by states, as envisioned by French, create a less polarized, more united Republic? Not clear, but our current path is most certainly a road to ruin.

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A must read in our time.

I found this book fascinating and insightful. We don't have to agree on everything, and won't. But maybe we can all agreed that today's political climate puts our country's very existence in jeopardy.

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Restored my patriotism

An evenhanded and close to unbiased account of the two films playing on the same screen in which reality differs for conservative and liberal viewers.

After a frightening reality based hypothesis of a U.S. split by secession, French reminded me that American freedom is one-of-a-kind and only exists if we pursue our own happiness while allowing others to do the same within the constraints of our founding documents rather than the country's currently expanded centralized government.

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A call to all bridge builders

Thought provoking, well written with apt historical reminders and cases on both sides. Well positioned biblical principles illumine the human actions and virtues required to move forward. May this piece encourage and empower those who are looking to be bridge builders and healers where there is division and deep wounds in America.

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Staggering false equivalence

The grievances he lists on the left are out of date and fringe. The finances on the right are right now.

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great reality check

A good read regardless of your political party or your association with secular or religious groups. I'm afraid I have to disagree with some of the arguments for federalism, the states have a nasty way of punishing minorities by not allowing their voices to be heard, so it's those minorities that invite the National political voice into the local dialogue. However, agree with most of the theories and concepts discussed.

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Interesting listen

Overall a good book. What I'm not a fan of is the religiosity. He comes at things from the perspective of an evangelical and quotes the Bible as if everyone believes the Bible. I can see some value to federalism that I didn't before, unless the state's rights means limiting the rights of marginalized people and women (i.e. I wholeheartedly disagree that states should be able to legislate discrimination of LGBTQ people or censor history). He thinks he is partyless but he is definitely Republican. The whole time I was listening I was curious what he would say about Roe being overturned. It doesn't seem he predicted that. He thinks embryos are babies so I'm sure he's happy, but other topics discussed in the book would suggest he would understand how radical a position this is and could lead to further division within the country.