Macron Pulls Off His Latest Trick
So it came to pass.
Emmanuel Macron, putative paragon of the French establishment, defeated a member of the Le Pen family (now their eighth loss, in total, as a clan) for the presidency on Sunday. Hit the snooze button. Go back to sleep. Nothing to see here.
Euro traders in Asia can break out the Chablis at lunch Monday as I file this column Sunday night across the ocean.
After bizarrely good early results for Marine Le Pen in some of France’s (very non-European) overseas outposts, “Metropolitan France” sent the Le Pen movement packing on Sunday—57 or 58 percent to 42, based on usually accurate estimates. The anti-establishment was vanquished.
One could almost party like it’s 1989, if you squint: Read about a President Joe Biden, Bullingdon Club Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a reelected Rothschild banker French president, whoever the heck runs Russia these days, once again on its heels and apparently embarrassed on the world stage. One could almost write off the Trump election, Brexit, the revolutionary urban moment of 2020, the whole two-year constriction of travel thing, the face coverings (including a comeback for the beak mask people) courtesy of the caliphs of public health, all as some weird six-year sojourn back into History.
Covid-19 is over and so is populist nationalism. We have the baddies on the run, goes the thinking. From the primacists of the Potomac to the NATO bigwigs in Brussels, the globalists are back, baby. Inflation is containable, global supply chains repairable, crime overrated, concerns about gender normalcy basically the latest work of the Klan, and surely, we’ll replace our American Paul von Hindenberg in time.
The right, at least the Anglo-American right, certainly got one thing wrong: They misread Macron, first the youngest French leader since Bonaparte, and now the first president reelected since that giant of the George W. Bush era, the noble Jacques Chirac of “Freedom Fries” fame.
Perhaps I’m biased toward the success of young 5 to 9 guys, but Macron’s rise to power has been “alpha,” not effete (as is somehow his country’s reputation), or even “Jupiterian,” as the president has himself put it. Or as Janan Ganesh tallied this weekend, “Over the course of his life, Emmanuel Macron has: asked his secular parents to have him baptised, formed a romance with his teacher that survived their geographic separation by scandalised relatives, bought his way out of a civil service contract to enter banking and dislodged his political patron in the Elysée with a new party that he named after his own initials.”
Still, it is worth noting what France’s election result was not.
It was not a victory for France’s established parties, which garnered a mere 7 percent combined and were culled in the first round voting. And it was not a campaign waged on the cultural left. For instance, in recent years, Macron’s ministers sometime have claimed, sort of uproariously, that Le Pen’s people aren’t concerned about the French Republic’s compatibility with Islam enough.
And indeed, Macron was sometimes compared to Canada’s Justin Trudeau in the early going, but he has not reacted to the age of techno-Maoism like our man in Ottawa.
In contrast to American leadership, Macron made clear French statues weren’t coming down. As the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial winds down in Fairfax, it’s also worth recalling it was the Paris-led reaction to #MeToo that was the most clearly skeptical of the phenomenon’s excesses from the start.
Macron spent his last week fending off Le Pen’s plans for economic nationalization, and her offer of loans for young families, among other planned shake-ups. Perhaps Le Pen can wriggle a consolation fellowship out of Oren Cass at American Compass. Kidding aside, this was all plainly attractive to a beleaguered youth willing to roll the dice.
Polling heading into this race indicated that the under 50 crowd would have named her president. In other words, if we did not live in a uniquely gerontocratic age, the result of this election would not have been the same. At least a different Emmanuel Macron would have had to win (not unimaginable). So, if Macron’s reelection is an establishment, center-left victory, it is a strange, center-left victory.
But it’s like the tear the Los Angeles Lakers went on in the early 2000s. Opponents of the hegemon were looking for ways for Kobe and Shaq to lose. The Le Pens are the Sacramento Kings, and they are just not going to win a championship. And Macron is just too good at this.
All dynasties fall. So, if you look outside, and broadly speaking, see a happy world right now, please tell me where to send a postcard. But, tonight, Macron’s cribbed-Naipaulism has won: “A train station, it’s a place where one encounters people who are succeeding and people who are nothing.”