As one of the walkers on the Madison isthmus reminded me this afternoon as I planted roses, and we talked of the French presidential election, there were still four in 10 voters who cast a ballot for a fascist candidate. As one who worries about democracy not only in our nation but in countries around the globe, she did not need to remind me. I told her it was the older voters in France who well recall their history and then correctly cast their ballot for Emmanuel Macron.
And saved their country from the ruinous racism, white nationalism, and xenophobia of Marine Le Pen.
There was no way to successfully soft-pedal or sell Le Pen’s blows against Muslims or her tirades against Algerians. One can not rift about inflation one minute and then next pour scalding rhetoric upon Muslim women and their headscarves and not have reasoned voters go what the hell is wrong with her?
There was no hairstyle or consultant-driven outfits that could wash away Le Pens’ overt and constant racism.
Or her admiration for Russian President Putin.
French voters did not forget that Le Pen repeated her support for Putin’s assault on Crimea and her opposition to the EU sanctions at that time in response to the annexation. It was a mere 38 days after Russia invaded Ukraine that Le Pen stated, that Putin “could become an ally of France again” if the war ends.
If the hate-mongering from Le Pen was not enough to deeply draw concern, the threats she posed to NATO policy and the unity of the European Union surely would have done so. Why the far-right finds it a natural fit to cozy with Putin is one reason they must be viewed with suspicion when on the ballot. As voters proved today in France.
The close ties that Macron has established between France and the rest of Western Europe and the United States are the hallmark of what constitutes a solid working relationship. Now consider the angry populism and white nationalistic bombast from Le Pen, and ask yourself what would have befallen France and Europe had she operated from the presidential office? Putin would have won a second war without even needing to have fired one missile westward.
Macron has five years to now focus on a leadership role in the EU, with the absence of Germany’s outsized role of Angela Merkel. He can now press forward with his “More Europe” perspective and agenda.
As the woman who talked with me in the sunshine said of today’s election, Le Pen may have plenty of supporters, but the collective wisdom of the majority of mainstream French voters simply would not allow for a fascist to become the next French president.
Thank you to the majority of French voters for your concern for democracy.
And so it goes.