July 28, 2020
Author: Chilton Williamson
Today’s Le Figaro (27 July 2020) carries a short article by Loris Boichet reporting a new study that claims to show a shift in political opinion in France from the center to the center-right. According to Jérôme Fourquet, the author of the report, 13 percent of the French electorate locates itself on the left, 32 percent at the center, and 39 percent on the right of national politics. M. Fourquet speculates that the shift reflects the growing self-assertion of the territoires against the capital city, of the ordre républican (presumably against the socialists and greens), and le séparatisme islamiste that is increasingly noted, resented, and feared by the native French. Coincidentally, Leon Hadar predicts in The Spectator US, also for today, that Trumpism will not outlive Trump. The reason, he says, is that the “nationalist agenda” is backed by a diminishing electoral base of elderly white people that will be soon be replaced by a majority one comprised of youthful anti-nationalists and non-whites.
I wonder. Barack Obama has been anticipating for years a new liberal majority as young people move to the forefront of American politics. There are problems with this argument, one of which is that youth moves rapidly into middle age, and that with middle age comes a wider experience of the world, altered material interests, and a more conservative view of human affairs—though usually not in the case of ideologically driven politicos like Barack Obama, a fact that probably explains his confidence in a liberal future. Another is that as liberalism evolves further into progressivism, it becomes increasingly less tolerable as an alternative to centrists and moderate conservatives. Lastly, Hadar fails to consider the question of where the nearly 40 percent of the electorate that fervently supports Donald Trump would go should he fail to win reelection, or the Republican Party to find a satisfactory substitute for him after he leaves the White House at the end of his second term.
Contrary to Leon Hadar’s assumption, “populism” in America is certain not to disappear along with its avatar. In fact it is likely to expand its present base by appealing to other, related interests and demographic groups, as they too become aware of the tyranny of neoliberal market forces, progressive politics, politicians, and bureaucrats, and the globalist system–which, though its ambitions are certain to be curbed in the short term by the pandemic and its consequences, is equally certain to recover its momentum in the longer one. It is true that we’ve heard much less over the past five or six months about populism and populist politics in Europe than we did previously; but then we’ve been hearing much less about politics in that part of the world at all, where public is debate is almost exclusively about Covid -19 and a “second wave.” We’d be hearing less about it in America too, were this not a presidential election year in which everything besides the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November goes as dark as the far side of the moon for the previous twelve months. The French equivalent of Trumpism is growing and gaining influence in the increasingly unhappy and discontented France of Emmanuel Macron. Why shouldn’t it? The circumstances that produced the conservative slide in the Hexagon have not changed, so why should the public response to them? The same goes for the ones that got Donald Trump elected four years ago. Trump win, Trump lose—Trumpism, though no doubt in somewhat altered form reflecting the personality of its next national champion, is not going away.
Where–after all–would it go?