June 2017: France to progressive America: “Merci for your advice during our election. Now, we have some advice for you. Be careful what you wish for.” The impeachment of President Trump will mean a misère ouvert for America: riots & rebellion, a dented democracy, an emboldened Establishment, Republicans riding roughshod, and President Pence! Not that the French have much regard for the man Pence would replace, Donald John Trump, grimacing at his trip to Europe. Encore, the Divided States of America is between a rock and a hard place.
The View from Paris:
This series is called the “View from Paris” and asks Les Franciliens for their reactions to current affairs in the USA. These are the opinions not the facts (fake or otherwise).
You can read the previous “View from Paris” article, where we predicted the environmental dangers of “The Fog of Trump”, here: https://write2assemble.com/view-paris-fog-trump
Since Our Last Episode:
The French feel validated in the concerns they expressed about the environment under Trump. Emmanuel Macron, the youngest-ever French president, responds to the White House plan to pull out of the Paris climate accord with the defiant line, “Let’s make our planet great again”. The hashtag #LetsMakeOurPlanetGreatAgain is born and France offers itself as a second homeland to disgruntled Americans, so long as they don’t deny or obscure #climatechange.
Paris is content with the predictable defeat of Marine Le Pen whose populism has convinced less than 25% of eligible voters. Many have voted for Macron simply to block Le Pen. The future of Europe is secure and I am, once again, flooded with political opinions about Americans. “Can you please tell them, France is not America! Marine Le Pen is not Donald Trump. Jean-Luc Mélenchon is not Bernie Sanders. Emanuel Macron is not JFK!”
Despite strong opinions about America, and the future of the world, there are signs of political fatigue in France. On Sunday, 11 June, 2017, the first round of the French legislative elections is held and only around 50% of voters participate (a drop of almost 10 percentage points). However, Macron’s new party, La République en Marche, is on top with its fresh-faced candidates and Le Pen’s party, Front national, drops to 13% support. The second round on 18 June will determine if Macron’s party maintains a majority, stymying many a pundit.
Who Really Holds Power in the USA:
The topic I raise at a Paris brunch is, “Who do you think holds the reins of power in the United States?” “Not Trump” is the answer. Money. Lobbying. The lining of Senators’ pockets. Multinationals. The Deep State. Mainstream media. The system. The Establishment. Phew.
I drink red wine with some Parisian intellectuals and ask them, “What do your senses tell you about America today?” A sweet taste turning sour. They hear propaganda, from the left and right, consumed with eyes wide shut. They listen to Comey making noise without content. They see a compliant media creating a Russian “adversary”. An old French monsieur remarks dryly, “A re-run of the Cold War is a little unoriginal, no?” They smell a Democratic Party desperately in denial of disappointing its demographic and dropping to Trump’s truth-twisting tactics. They think these tactics tempt Trump to baby his base by pulling out of the planet-preserving Paris Agreement (Accord de Paris).
It seems to Paris that Americans are inundated with news, speculation and jokes about everything Trump tweets or says. From the safe distance of France they only get the important news: what Trump and the Republicans DO and WHY (e.g. the agenda against women’s reproductive rights). “Trump’s words should be ignored, they are for his base, and they still love him!” and “It’s ironic that a smart man would say Trump is dumb – he is no scholar but he does not need, or want, to be seen as a scholar.” Their words strike a similar chord to those of Naomi Klein.
Most Parisians I talk to wonder when, or if, Americans will get bored with Trump’s straw-man sideshow and what will happen then. The “View from Paris”, of the USA, forms a picture of a population distracted by what Trump is saying. Meanwhile the elite, of which Trump is a part, enjoy the widening wealth gap without scrutiny. Outside the mainstream there are some valiant efforts to show the truth and reflect America back to itself. But America is mesmerized by Trump’s antics and not enough attention is paid to where the real power stands: a GOP dominated Congress headed by various power-barons one of whom is ready to take over as President (à la “House of Cards”). Overhead, war-hawks are circling with eyes on Russia, the Middle East and North Korea.
But, never mind that, look! Trump tweets again. #covfefe
– Lindsay A Gordon © 2017
– image by Valeria Aussibal of valeriaaussibal.com