Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Today, the French go to the polls to elect a new president.  Francoise Hollande won't run as he is very unpopular, so the field is wide open.  And I mean wide open.

France has an unusual electoral system - though one that I really like.  You have a wide open first round with every possible party represented.  It's similar to a "jungle primary" in that you have to get 50%+1 to win in the first round to win outright, but different in that in our system there are really only two parties. In France, it might make perfect sense to vote for the Green Party in the first round, but then change to the Socialists in round two.

Anyway, France's election features four main candidates.  One is a hard left candidate - Jean-Luc Melenchon - who wants to impose a maximum income (basically a 100% tax over a certain income).  Another is the main center right's candidate - Francois Fillon - who has been tainted by corruption allegations.  The least radical candidate appears to be Emmanuel Macron, a political neophyte who at least doesn't want to blow everything to shit. Which brings me to Marine Le Pen.  Le Pen - along with Melenchon - favors withdrawing from the post-World War II stabilizing institutions (NATO, the EU) while adding in some lovely racism directed at the "non-French" Muslim minority.

Needless to say, there is more evidence that Russia is trying to get these two to the next round.  What happened with Trump is not unique; the Russians have been monkeying around in Europe's elections for years apparently.  This is why it was European intelligence agencies were quicker to pick up Russian ratfucking on behalf of Trump.  They are used to seeing it.

What is interesting is exactly HOW Russia activates these anti-global candidates - from Trump to Nigel Farage to Geert Wilders to Marine Le Pen.  They basically open the box labelled "Atavistic Fears of Others" and let the unspoken fear (of Muslims mostly) combine with the toxic after effects of the Great Recession to bring to power (or not in the case of Wilders) groups that would withdraw from the organizations that threaten Russian sovereignty.

Basically, if you want Europe to remain Europe, you'd better hope that Fillon and Macron advance to the second round today, although I HOPE that if even one of them advances, France will rally around that person to oppose Le Pen or Melenchon.  With America adrift and clueless internationally, we need a strong Europe to hold the line.

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