When people on Twitter started pointing out that French President Macron had the same approval rating as Biden, yet still won re-election by a landslide, my first thought was, there’s a difference. Macron was running against an extreme rightwing white supremacist…but then I remembered, oh yeah, Trump.
Living in France in the 1990s, my memory of Le Pen’s party was so extreme, the idea of a Le Pen as president was unfathomable. That’s how terrifyingly far Le Pen’s party has come into the mainstream. Living among Parisians, whose forefathers stormed the Bastille, who are political junkies and hold informed discussions, and whose organized demonstrations called “manifestations” to strategically disrupt business are a regular occurrence, I came to respect the French.
It’s a different system. While the U.S. government was designed to maintain a balance between the parties, in France, when the French president’s party is different than the majority in parliament – called “cohabitation” – it’s considered a crisis.
That’s why as far back as the 1980s, rightwing National Front party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen has been a scary threat. Common terms “lepénisation of minds” and “21st of April” denote Le Pen’s effect in mainstream politics. Le Pen’s spawn, Marine, picked up the baton and tried to rebrand the party. Just as Trump’s GOP took advantage of the poor and uneducated in red states, Marine reached out to the working class in France.
Even though Biden has turned the economy around in the U.S. and Macron is credited worldwide for great economic growth allowing France to bounce back from COVID faster than its neighbors, the right misrepresents them as bad for the economy. But the good people of France were wise to Russian interference and Le Pen’s big lies.
Because of Trump, Americans were forced to learn about the complicated workings of our democracy and are now wise to Republican lies. Americans should be inspired by the French. Maybe the French were inspired by Americans who elected Biden in 2020. Let’s keep the trend going and vote Republicans out in November.
Chicago native Lorraine Evanoff earned her degree in French from DePaul University then became a Certified Financial Manager. She worked as a finance exec in film production for seven years in Paris, then in Silicon Valley during the dot-com era, and later for various Hollywood production companies, notably as CFO of National Lampoon. She is currently living in Los Angeles with her husband.