Rachel Marsden: Macron is becoming what Trump should have been

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PARIS — The gatekeepers of the establishment status quo don’t have Donald Trump to kick around anymore. Except that Trump’s voters — more than 74 million of them — aren’t going anywhere.

These are people who chose Trump despite all of the daily shenanigans, tweets and drama, and rejected the candidacy of Joe Biden, a known establishment fixture best described as a pragmatic centrist. Biden’s major career flaw is what makes him unpalatable to those tens of millions of Trump voters — his tendency to follow the prevailing political winds rather than stand against them.

For example, Biden was quite willing to commit U.S. troops to war in the Middle East when the rest of the Washington establishment was on board — the ultimate beneficiaries being Saudi Arabia and Israel. But now that congressional Democrats have voted against Saudi Arabia’s excesses in both regional conflicts and human rights violations, Biden is following suit, blocking U.S. guided missile sales to the Saudis and ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen.

The global tide is turning on many issues, but it didn’t start in America with Biden or the Democrats. It arguably started with French President Emmanuel Macron, a pragmatic centrist who was elected in 2017 by cobbling together a coalition of disaffected voters from both the right and the left.

Macron has long been sticking his neck out in favor of better Western relations with Saudi foe Iran. That includes encouraging the U.S. to stick with the multilateral Iran nuclear/trade agreement from which Trump withdrew and which Biden now seems to have an interest in reinstating.

Macron has also advocated greater French and European cooperation with Russia, even on matters such as cybersecurity. Former French President Charles De Gaulle believed that Europe should extend “from the Atlantic to the Urals.” Macron wants to pry Russia away from China’s influence and Europe away from U.S. dependence. It’s a posture that puts France and Europe at odds with U.S. interests and will likely encourage even greater U.S. animosity toward Russia in order to increase pressure on European allies. It’s also a position mirroring that of Trump, who viewed China as the primary global threat. Trump’s lack of charm and elegance did him and the U.S. a disservice in convincing others of the Chinese threat.

Macron has elegance, and his worldview isn’t really that much different from Trump’s — nor is his view of how things should be at home. Trump had an extreme aversion to any COVID-19 sanitary restrictions that might do harm to the U.S. economy. The prevailing global posture still largely favors lockdowns when any hint of doubt exists about potential sanitary risks. Currently, it’s the threat of new COVID-19 variants from Britain and South America that have various “experts” demanding preventative lockdowns. Macron’s panel of experts was no different in expressing the opinion that further lockdowns were inevitable.

Then, word leaked out in the French media that Macron had insisted on taking back control from the experts, expressing frustration during a meeting with advisers that the only suggestion the health experts ever offer him is to lock down the country. Instead of blindly following that advice, Macron rejected their demands. Two weeks later, Macron’s instincts appear to have proven correct. The apocalyptic “variant” scenario envisioned by the experts has yet to materialize, and the French health care system and the COVID-19 infection rate are no worse off than they were at the start of the year.

Macron’s act of political courage has averted what would have been a gratuitous act of national economic suicide. Trump, on the other hand, was unable to do the same. The U.S. is just starting to discover the repercussions of lacking a thoughtful, credible, pro-liberty voice of dissent to counter the dominant establishment status quo narrative.

One example of such a failure is the scandal now swirling around New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who had been hailed by virtually the entire U.S. establishment as a COVID-era hero. The New York State Department of Health recently released records showing that more than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients were discharged from hospitals into nursing homes, leading to more nursing home deaths than previously disclosed. Where was the effective opposition at the time?

In an October speech, Macron said the woke culture promoted by the American left is a potential threat to French society, referring to “certain social science theories entirely imported from the United States, with their problems.”

America could use an Emmanuel Macron of its own — a free-market, limited-government pragmatist who is capable of surfing the rapidly shifting global landscape while deftly opposing the division and chaos sowed by the political establishment.

Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language program that airs on Sputnik France. She wrote this column for Tribune News Service.

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