Emmanuel Macron is an easy man to mock. As a former banker from the upper echelons of French academia, he ascended to the French presidency under the most extraordinary of circumstances and an invented political party with limited experience in government. He married his high school teacher more than 20 years his senior, and he’s perhaps the most prominent globalist on the French political stage.
Plus, of course, he just looks very French.
But American conservatives should not root for his demise. He may very well be the last thing standing between a French government, and more importantly culture, grasping at what remains of classical liberalism in the country and a sociopolitical sphere devolving into to raw, authoritarian tribalism on both sides of the political spectrum.
Consider, following the categorical failure of social Francois Hollande’s presidency, Macron’s top opponents were Republican Francois Fillon, who sympathized with the brutal Assad regime and voted against a law legalizing not just gay marriage, but homosexuality as a whole; two socialists; and of course, Marine Le Pen, who supports an ethno-welfare state.
Macron is liberalism’s last stand against the angry, populist mobs that have emerged in response not only to the French Leviathan and destructive immigration policy, but also to a hollowing of French culture and inept leadership. In a presidential election where he wound up as the left-wing candidate in the run-up against Le Pen, Macron was the one fighting for capitalism, free trade, and dismantling bureaucratic waste. American conservatives hoping for French salvation yet again are lost if Macron and his makeshift movement lose to the Rassemblement National (Le Pen’s party, formerly known as Front National).
Macron found himself in hot water the past few weeks for his administration’s absurd fuel tax, a mostly unnecessary mechanism to cut back on the nation’s already falling carbon emissions. The measure disproportionately affected middle-class and mid-country French workers who have to commute for work, and as the French are apt to do, they took to the streets. While most were peaceful, concerned citizens, both the socialists and the nationalists tried to piggyback onto the protests, and they ultimately devolved into madness.
The heckler’s veto won out in the end, with Macron suspending, then canceling the gas tax. Breitbart lauded the decision as a ” victory.” It’s not.
To be clear, the gas tax was dumb. Macron, whose approval ratings are bottoming out in the 20s, does need to reassert his mandate to govern. But conservatives shouldn’t cheer for violent protests to work, nor should they beg for Macron’s demise. If the French Right goes the way of Italy’s Right — that is to say, abandons free market conservatism — then America will have lost its oldest ally a second time.
You don’t have to like Macron or defend his misguided policies. But he’s the closest thing American conservatives have to a viable champion on the French political stage.