AHI’s David Frisk
Titled “GOP Presidential Candidates: The More the Scarier,” the piece makes two main points: that the extraordinary size of the Republican Party’s candidate field will probably worsen its public image and its internal conflict, and that the situation reflects longstanding dysfunctions among the conservatives who are the party’s largest single force. It ends with brief remarks on the political assets and liabilities of each major candidate.
“An important factor in lengthening the candidate roster and also making a quick winnowing unlikely,” write Frisk and his co-author Jonathan Riehl, “is a long decline in political discipline among conservatives … One notable result of this indiscipline is trouble judging who is most worth backing in a presidential race—the proliferation of fuzzy thinking about who is most likely to win a general election, remain true to conservative principles, and deliver for conservatives as president.” Riehl, a communications instructor at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina, is completing a book on the history of the Federalist Society. They have previously written a commentary analyzing from a historical standpoint the possibility of a conservative third party, which ran in the magazine section of Politico, another major site.
In addition to his piece on the presidential campaign, Frisk also recently published on the website of First Things, a leading journal focused on cultural and religious topics, where he reviewed The Peace That Almost Was: The Forgotten Story of the 1861 Washington Peace Conference and the Final Attempt to Avert the Civil War.
A Resident Fellow of the AHI since 2013, Dr. Frisk teaches its popular adult education classes, covering political thought, history, politics, and social problems, while also running reading groups on major thinkers for Hamilton College students. He will soon edit and contribute to a volume looking back on the Goldwater presidential campaign, which is expected to include essays by AHI co-founder Professor James Bradfield, Professor Philip Klinkner of the Hamilton government department, and AHI Resident Fellow Mary Grabar, among others. In addition, he is researching his envisioned major book, a study of the difficult relationship between libertarianism and traditionalist conservatism. A former award-winning journalist, he received his Ph.D. in political science from Claremont Graduate University in 2009. Dr. Frisk is the author of the widely acclaimed biography If Not Us, Who? William Rusher, National Review, and the Conservative Movement (ISI Books, 2012), contributed an essay on the late Senator Jesse Helms to Triumphs and Tragedies of the Modern Congress: Case Studies in Legislative Leadership (Praeger, 2014), and has presented several papers at American Political Science Association conventions, most recently last year.