France’s presidential election recently ended. The winner? The 39-year-old Emmanuel Macron, a political unknown and the youngest leader in France since that shorty Napoleon.
Why have the U.S. and other Western allies cared so much about an election that doesn’t really affect anyone besides the French? Well, I guess because just about every political arena nowadays have the stench of Russian influence and interference in it.
The French election had a lot of similarities between our own American 2016 presidential election, including a massive hacking of Macron’s emails on the day that campaigning officially ended in France. The emails were leaked and mixed in with completely fake emails, making it hard to determine which ones were legit. However, the French have laws in place to make voting more accessible and campaigning more legit. Their election is on a Sunday, which makes perfect sense compared to a Tuesday in November. A lot of Americans don’t vote because it’s just not accessible to them. Why would anyone miss a day of work or even go stand in line to vote after working all day on a Tuesday?
Another huge factor to consider: the French media didn’t report on the hacking. This played a significant role because the Russians saw the success of their role in the U.S. election, but it had less effect in the French one, in part thanks to French law that prevented it. Keep in mind that it would have been extremely hard to determine which emails were real and which ones were fake. This was probably because the Russians didn’t find anything worthwhile, so they mixed it up with fake emails to try to hurt Macron’s votes.
Macron went up against Marine Le Pen, a nationalist alt-right, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, anti-European Union, pro-Russian politician. (Since when was anyone pro-Russian, especially in France?) Like Trump, Le Pen built her support bases on fear and anger amongst the French people. France, being a world leader in Western Europe along with the UK, was an important victory for those fearing the nationalistic right-wing populist movement sweeping across Western democracy, starting with Brexit.
How do these sentiments start? Let’s reference World War II. The Nazi party was voted into office. That’s something that a lot of people don’t understand or know. Despite popular belief, the Nazis didn’t overthrow the German government through a coup or invasion; they were voted into seats by the German people. They took their anger toward the unfair Versailles Treaty and channeled it toward minorities, especially Jewish people, building a nationalist sentiment of world-power and superiority.
France’s Macron victory was a desperate sign for those that feared a second coming of historical nationalism. It was a hope that world globalization will continue to move forward. As Macron said in his victory speech, “This is a victory for the Republic!” Clearly, also a win for Western democracy worldwide.
Make no mistake, Russia is no friend to Western democracy. Putin isn’t a buddy of Trump’s. Putin uses political positions like chess pieces. Democrats, mainstream media and critics of Trump need to stop assuming that Putin and Trump have some sort of bromance going on; Russia is just looking out for Russia. A breakup of the EU, UN, and especially NATO is beneficial to Russia. Do not forget that this is a man who annexed a sovereign nation. All conflicts start out small before turning into large-scale wars, and it usually starts with annexation of neighboring borders and the weakening of treaties and alliances.
As Edward Abbey famously said, “A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against its government.”