France's lesson to US conservatives: An update to "My Melenchony Baby"

French presidential election candidate for the right-wing Les Republicains (LR) party, Francois Fillon delivers a statement to the press at his campaign headquarters in Paris on April 21, 2017. Photo by Eliot Blondet/Sipa USA(Sipa via AP Images)

Update: The main mode of wealth acquisition in France is waiting for one’s parents to die. Why get the inheritance in a devalued new French franc rather than in Euro? French voters will elect the “bubble” candidate Emmanuel Macron, the clearest supporter of French membership in the Eurozone, and leave the National Front’s Marine Le Pen in the dust in the May 7 second round of the national elections. What about the 234 murders of French citizens by jihadists in the past year or so? Remember what Machiavelli said: A man will forgive the murder of his father before the loss of his inheritance.


The nationalist wing of American conservatives made exactly the same methodological error as the Neo-cons: It believed that American circumstances and sentiments could be exported to other countries. The Europeans are different. “Nationalism” is an insult in the mouth of Macron, who styles himself a “patriot.” Nationalism brought the Europeans the two World Wars of the 20th century and untold misery, and there are few who are willing to try it again. We Americans truly are unique: What we mean by “nationalism” is our commitment to the American nation, which is not a “nation” in the European sense (defined by birth), but a “new nation conceived in liberty,” chosen from among the nations of the world.

The surge in support for ultra-leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon to 19% in the French presidential polls — from just 11.4% on March 13 — shows how dangerous the French political situation has become.

Most of Mélenchon’s gain came at the expense of the candidate of the governing Socialist Party, Benoit Hamon, who shows less than 8% support in the latest polls. When the ruling party’s candidate polls in single digits, something nasty is at work.

With 25% undecided before Sunday’s first round elections, the jump in support for a candidate who calls for a 100% tax rate on the rich indicates a nasty polarization in French society. There are two risks. One is that National Front leader Marine Le Pen and Mélenchon win the first round, giving France a choice between an extreme right and extreme left who agree about leaving the European Union. Both also are friendly with Moscow. The other is that Le Pen will face either the traditional conservative Francois Fillon or the synthetic centrist Emmanuel Macron, with the likelihood that the left will support Le Pen rather than — as in the past — obediently align itself with the center in order to defeat the National Front. A Le Pen victory would mean the end of Europe’s institutions as we know them.


The “centrist” candidate, former economics minister Emmanuel Macron, is a 39-year-old technocrat whose principle attraction is the fact that he hasn’t ever run for office and is not tainted by association with the existing parties. The default scenario has Le Pen and Macron winning the first round, and the body politic uniting behind Macron to stop Le Pen in the second round. That could go pear-shaped.

Macron is pure bubble; if the bubble pops, right and left could unite with some elements of the Establishment to put Le Pen in power. She is the only candidate to warn about the danger to French society posed by Muslim migrants. But she also wants to take France out of the European Union, which would mean the end of the EU. The main winner in that case would be Putin. If I were French I would at least consider voting for Le Pen; as an American, I hope she loses as a matter of pure American strategic interest. The best outcome from an American standpoint would be the victory of the conservative Catholic free-marketeer Francois Fillon.

There are two sources of French rage against the country’s complacent and corrupt Establishment. The first is security. As Soeren Kern noted at the Gatestone Institute April 18:

An Ifop poll found that 71% of French people believe the security situation in France has deteriorated during the past five years; 93% believe the terrorist threat remains high; 60% said they do not feel safe anywhere in the country; and 69% believe there are not enough police and gendarmes. The poll also found that 88% support deporting foreigners convicted of serious crimes, and 81% support terminating social assistance to parents of repeat offenders.


A quarter of French teenagers are Muslims, and one-third of them hold fundamentalist views.

The second is economic. Youth unemployment in France stands at 22.4%. Globalization has not been kind to French industry (unlike German industry, which dominates key niches in manufacturing).

Elsewhere in Europe, the alternative right has flopped. Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders polled lower than expected in last month’s Dutch elections. Germany’s Alternative fuer Deutschland is in chaos following the resignation of its chairman and lead candidate Frauke Petry, who was effectively forced out by the extreme right wing of her party.

But France is different. Many American conservatives are cheering for Le Pen. So are some elements of the French Establishment, who see the National Front leader as the country’s last hope to stop the creeping tide of Islam.

But if Le Pen is elected, I guarantee that her American admirers are not going to like the outcome.


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