Looking at the catastrophic performance of Le Pen in the second round of the French election the thought occurs to me (as it did after the Dutch election) that Trump may have played a major role.
If there’s one thing Europeans enjoy it’s indulging in moral preening about their anti-fascist credentials and if there’s one thing they enjoy even more than that it’s sneering at the United States and congratulating themselves on their superior levels of culture, tolerance and all-round moral virtue. Europeans are so very civilised while Americans are barbaric, backward and crass.
This smug condescension on the part of western Europeans is actually quite hilarious. In 1914 western Europeans had a magnificent civilisation. In the century since then, through their own efforts, they have managed to flush it all down the toilet. You’d think this would teach them a bit of humility but in fact as Europe has become progressively more decadent, more corrupt, more cowardly and more depraved Europeans have become even more addicted to sneering at Americans.
Trump has kicked this tendency into overdrive. He represents everything about America that appalls western Europeans, and everything about America that frightens and upsets them.
The election provided the French with a wonderful opportunity to prove their civilisational superiority by electing the anti-Trump. And that is indeed what Macron is. Trump is masculine; Macron is emasculated. Trump is proud of his country; Macron is ashamed of his. Trump has demonstrated his commitment to the future by having children; Macron is childless. Trump likes being a political outsider; Macron is a creature of the establishment. Trump is confident; Macron is apologetic. Trump radiates strength; Macron radiates weakness. Trump likes ordinary people; Macron regards them with horror. Trump is a loose cannon; Macron is a good boy who will do what he is told.
To make the deal even sweeter, Trump is a fascist. The French know he is a fascist because that’s what the newspapers and TV tell them and in any case he’s a Republican and everyone knows that all American Republicans are fascists by definition. And Macron is not a fascist because Le Pen is a fascist and he’s against Le Pen so he can’t be a fascist.
So we have an election that was a splendid opportunity for both virtue-signaling and civilisation-signaling.
Given the fact that the second round was a landslide you might suggest that even if there was a Trump Effect it made no difference. Maybe. On the other hand the first round was quite tight and the Macron As Anti-Trump factor may have had some significance, possibly costing Fillon enough votes to keep him out of the second round. Macron was after all a ludicrous clown of a candidate and realistically he could have been in big trouble against Fillon in the second round.
It may well be that the Trump Effect has significantly damaged the chances of nationalist parties in all western European countries. Knee-jerk anti-Americanism is not far beneath the surface amongst most middle-class Europeans, and the irrational and morbid fear of being tarred with any association with fascism is an immense factor in western European politics.
Of course I’m not suggesting it’s Trump’s fault. Trump is Trump and he can only be himself and his style works very well in US politics. Europeans need to grow up and they need to lose their attitude. If they don’t then they’re going to lose their civilisation.