The Claremont Institute released a statement this morning defending John Eastman against charges that he tried to subvert the 2020 election by giving Vice President Pence a road map for impeding the Electoral College. It lodges two complaints. The first amounts to a claim that the media has misrepresented the precise manner in which Eastman advised Pence to subvert the voters’ constitutional will. This is like a player of the game Clue saying that Colonel Mustard was a good dinner guest because he actually committed the murder in the conservatory with the lead pipe rather than in the conservatory with the revolver. One can debate whether the latter was an apt description of the crime, but neither scenario exactly acquits the accused.
The more interesting assertion is that Eastman is being “de-platformed” because such groups as the Federalist Society are declining to associate with him. Note the implication that any given platform is a public utility to which everyone is apparently owed access.
But the scholars at Claremont surely know their Tocqueville, who emphasized voluntary associations as an essential feature of a vibrant republic. A voluntary organization like the Federalist Society can choose its company. Barring an anti-Tocquevillian claim that associations should be compulsory instead, it is not “de”-platforming to decline Eastman’s participation, any more than The Claremont Review of Books would be “de-platforming” a pro-choice group if it declined to publish a manifesto from it. The Claremont Review operates from a perspective. That is among the features that makes it a “voluntary” association.
This morning’s statement illustrates how basely the Claremont crowd has played the victim card, even when so many of them were carrying West Wing passes. To that hand, it can now add the entitlement card as well.