The left voted for this: Macron sips champagne with Dutch liberal leader and royalty as France burns

By John Cody
11 Min Read

Despite mass protests back home, scenes of extreme police violence, and a slew of critics pointing out France’s slide towards authoritarian rule, French President Emmanuel Macron was welcomed in the Netherlands with open arms this week — in fact, he was the toast of the town.

Macron, dressed in a fine tuxedo, unabashedly clinked champagne glasses with Dutch royalty and the country’s liberal political class in opulent palaces. The video of Macron offers quite the contrast to the proletariat “riff-raff” protesting in the streets and being clobbered by police. He seems to have fully embraced the “let them eat cake” attitude that has long defined his presidency.

Recently, a video featuring Macron sliding off a luxury watch in the middle of an interview went viral, which he followed up with high-profile visits to China and the Netherlands. Macron wearing luxury watches, drinking champagne, and saying recently he is “comfortable” being hated may lead some to think these are all gaffes. In fact, much of it seems orchestrated. It has echoes of the “Dark Brandon” meme that the White House reportedly embraced. Certainly, Macron’s foreign visits are a pivot away from domestic trouble — a common move for politicians across the world.

Macron is trying to present himself as the strong leader who gets stuff done — with or without democracy. He flexes in luxury watches because he’s the boss cleaning up the mess, and if a few heads get cracked in, well, another glass of champagne is in order. Who is going to stop him? Certainly not his technocrats across the EU. He knows that as long as he embraces the “right” position on immigration and LGBT rights, he will remain firmly in the camp of Brussels and the media establishment, which gives him the cover he needs.

Despite all their constant talk about rule of law and “democracy,” the ruling EU political class appears entirely unconcerned with nearly weekly footage of dozens of protesters being beaten to a pulp. The likes of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who greeted Macron warmly in the Netherlands, are not put off one bit that millions of French are protesting Macron’s move to effectively “cancel” democracy and institute a much-hated increase in the pension age from 62 to 64 without a single vote in parliament. Rutte is, by the way, the same leader who called for Hungary to be expelled from the European Union for “rule of law” violations and its stance on LGBT.

Is Macron right?

There is, in the end, some truth to Macron’s claims about pension reform and the way he has handled them up until now. The French public voted him into office knowing he would move forward with the reforms, and they also voted him in with full knowledge of how his police forces handled the Yellow Vest protesters. His rival, Marine Le Pen, made it clear she would keep the pension age set at 62 — she has since said she will reverse Macron’s pension reform as well if elected.

French President Emmanuel Macron, left, and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, right, propose a toast as they sit down for a working dinner in front of Rembrandt’s “The Night Watch” at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Wednesday, April 12, 2023. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

What kept the French public from voting for Le Pen? The main issue is supposedly that Le Pen is xenophobic, which is mostly ridiculous. The reality is that at the end of the day, the French are “xenophobic.” They do not want to become a minority, and they are not at all happy about mass immigration. Recent polling has shown that even the left in France are almost entirely fed up with immigration. In fact, surveys indicate that French society wants a referendum on the issue, which Le Pen had promised during her campaign. To take it a step further, the majority of French even believe the Great Replacement is taking place and the French routinely rate immigration as one of the most pressing issues facing the nation.

But it goes further than immigration and pension reform. Le Pen also vowed to keep much of the social programs in place that a majority of the French apparently value. On a range of issues, she embraced the populist position, even when it conflicted with conservative orthodoxy, such as the topic of abortion. In theory, her populist positions should translate into the most votes.

Yet, the French people chose the very man who promised more immigration, pension reform, and a technocratic regime. Why? The most basic answer is that the French press labeled her far-right, racist and fascist. The seeds that allowed those words to have such power were planted long ago — in novels, academia, television, and film — allowing these words to have such power when journalists and activists spout them now. That is really all it took, and that is really all it takes across the West time and again.

The problem, for the most part, is the media is more powerful than any politician and has the ability to take a candidate like Le Pen and overwrite people’s own interests and desires. After they are done, France once again ends up with a candidate like Macron as president and the masses are left wondering why they are not getting what they want.

Of course, the media cannot be blamed for every vote that failed to materialize for Le Pen. She made her mistakes, while Macron has also appealed to the interests of certain segments of French society — particularly foreigners, business owners, and an assortment of elites. For some people, it simply comes down to money. Take Michel Houllbecq for instance. The man is France’s most famous author and seen as a literary God in France. Recently, he said that the Great Replacement is taking place across the West, along with a host of other explosive comments. Yet, as he said in 2017, “I am part of a France that votes Macron because I am too rich to vote Le Pen or Mélenchon.”

He may have amended his position in 2019, when he stated, “I am ready to vote for anyone as long as they propose to exit the European Union and NATO,” but his first sentiment of putting money before nation has been the status quo across the West for decades.

Do voters get what they deserve?

It is easy enough to blame the voters, and there is plenty of blame to go around. The liberal-left establishment — both politicians and journalists — closed ranks behind Macron after the first round of voting in 2022, urged their voters to reject Le Pen, and many of those voters did exactly that. Now, hundreds of thousands of them are likely marching in the streets decrying Macron’s pension reform. There is a certain absurdity to it, and Macron seems to have embraced the adage: “You idiots voted for this!”

Now, polling says Le Pen would beat Macron if a repeat election were to occur. These polls are always a bit interesting, but the reality is that the next election is in 2027 — four long years from now. These voters can attempt to assuage their anger at Macron by telling themselves they defeated the “Nazi” by rejecting Le Pen in 2022, the same “Nazi” who would have given them mostly what they tell pollsters they want in regard to immigration, economics and even culture.

The sad reality is that as bad as the situation in France is, it is still much better than in many Western countries. It should not be forgotten that 42 percent of the population chose Le Pen in the end. Some conservatives bit their tongue and voted for her, even if she did not live up to their ideals.

As for the present crisis, Macron will most likely survive this round of pension protests, and he has no plans to run again. However, in all reality, a new Macron will arise to take Macron’s place. In four years, will the French repeat the same mistake again when it comes time to pull the lever? Pension reform will be a long distant memory at that point, and whether it is Le Pen or some other candidate representing her ideals, the media chorus of “far-right” and “racist” will threaten to cast its spell once again.

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