I voted for Macron

Emmanuel Macron won in the French elections, resolutely thumping Marine Le Pen’s bid for office with over 65% of the votes. I voted yesterday, going to the Lycée Français de Chicago. I don’t speak French very well, nor do I read it very well and was worried about being grilled by the French officials who would sniff dismissively at me. Last time I had to deal with the French government was when I was renewing my passport at the French consulate, and struggled to explain in French to the staff that I would be more comfortable speaking in English. I’m not sure if it was because of my bad French, but it didn’t go well, and I left the consular office with a headache from trying to make myself understood.

I was luckier yesterday because I didn’t really have to speak much. I was able to read enough to figure out which line to go to and I knew enough in French to say hi, give my name, and grab the ballots. Oh, let’s get to the “ballots.” The voting comprised of two slips of papers, each with a candidate’s name, and a little brown envelope. I then scuttled over to a booth and put Macron’s name in the envelope and then after being confirmed and checked for the second time off a manifest, I dropped the envelope into a large glass box.

Normally I wouldn’t vote. I lived in the United States for over 30 years, and held little interest in French politics. But the last year has been so ridiculous. Starting with the Brexit referendum in June, it felt as if we couldn’t get through a month without some fresh hell popping up. Theresa May and Donald Trump are the faces of unfettered populism that has gripped most of the west.

And France wasn’t immune. Marine Le Pen ran on a similar campaign of suspicion, xenophobia, racism, and isolationism. And she was popular. In the first round of the elections, she came in second, and was moving on to the second round. Despite the polls confirming that Le Pen wouldn’t win, I was nervous. The polls promised Brexit wouldn’t pass and that Hillary Clinton would win. I was cautiously optimistic that Macron would win, but didn’t take anything for granted.

And though we’re celebrating Le Pen’s loss, it’s not over yet. Despite her promises to the contrary, May is holding a snap election in June. Because the Brexit negotiations aren’t going well, and there a lot more difficult than May imagined, she’s hoping to cleanse the government of anti-Brexit naysayers who are gumming up her plot to destroy the UK. Confident that she’ll be able to purge parliament of Labour and Lib Dem MPs, May is banking on the general elections to go as well for her as the locals went a few days ago, when the Torys picked up 130 seats, while Labour shed 120 seats. UKIP, the racist alt-right party in the UK, lost all of the local seats, but that’s not a silver lining – it’s aluminum. UKIP helped destroy the UK’s relationship with the EU, and is riding off into the sunset, happy to allow the Torys to finish the job.

But for now, I’m relieved. And I hope that Le Pen’s loss – predicted, but still a surprising – will be a necessary road block to the populist movement in Europe. Hopefully, Le Pen’s loss will put an end to talk of dismantling the EU. Hopefully, Le Pen’s loss will put an end to talk of curbing immigration, freedom of movement, and the acceptance of refugees. I’m hoping.

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2 Comments

Filed under commentary, Nonfiction, politics, Writing

2 responses to “I voted for Macron

  1. Jeff

    What level of immigration is unacceptable to you? If you don’t have a line to cross, you will never say no. How many of your fellow citizens have to be beaten up, raped, and murdered before you say no? It is astonishing to me how blind people can be. Immigrants do not magically become civil citizens. Some of them do not like you. Some of them have nothing but contempt for Western Civilization and simply seek to exploit social programs. You assume good intentions at the expense of people who are much poorer than you. Those hit hardest by immigration are the poorest in every nation. I’m guessing you aren’t affected by this in any shape or form.
    The quicker the left understands this problem, and begins representing the majority of the working class again, the better they will do in the political arena. Instead anyone who criticizes immigration is labeled a xenophobe, racist, and “far-right” (which ceases to mean anything these days). I suggest you listen to Douglas Murray a bit. He rides the center on the subject of immigration.
    Cheers.

    • thecrowdedbookshelf

      Hello –

      Thanks so much for reading and replying. I’m glad that the election brings up important questions about immigration. Firstly, you made a few assumptions. One, I’m an immigrant twice over – I’m an immigrant in the United States, but I was also an immigrant in France. So, all of the things that have been flung at immigrants (lazy, dangerous, stealing our jobs, unwilling or unable to assimilate to the dominant culture) I’ve heard lobbed at me, my family, and my friends. My mother speaks with a strong accent, and she’s still grilled daily by those around her whether she’s a citizen, and her intelligence is often questioned by those around her. I’m lucky in that I often pass as a citizen because I speak English like a native and do not have an accent. When I criticize the country, I’m told to “go back to where I came from.”
      Am I affected by immigration – yes I am, directly because I am an immigrant. You blame rape, murder, violence on immigrants, but nationals/citizens commit crimes, too. Instead of blaming immigration for the high crime rates, let’s blame a widening income gap, stagnating wages, a sluggish economy exasperated by ruinous free trade agreements, and neo-liberal fiscal and foreign policies that encourage income inequality. Let’s blame liberals and progressives for adopting calamitous austerity measures that do nothing but plunge economies further into instability and crises.
      You want to talk about rape? Well, let’s blame patriarchy and a rape culture that teaches men that they are “owed” women. Let’s not pretend that rape culture is an export from “non Western” countries, as Western countries have astronomically high numbers of sexual assaults (Against both men and women). Let’s not pretend that we’re still teaching rape victims that it’s ***their*** fault that they were raped, not the rapist. This is an issue that has no boundaries.
      I am well acquainted with Douglas Murray’s work, and I think he is, for a lack of better term, an assjacket. I’m embarrassed that he’s a queer man because that makes the rest of us look terrible.
      To your earliest question: what level of immigration is unacceptable to me? I don’t have an answer, because that’s not a question that can be answered by a number. And let’s be clear, I’m not advocating for open borders, but I also don’t advocate for the culture of fear that is created by the alt-right (which should really just be called racist). Travel bans and stoking fears of scary brown people and scary Muslims who are coming to kill us. Meanwhile, the West -particularly the UK and the US – but the West as a whole has had a long and continuous history of going to countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and parts of South America, with the intent of overthrowing governments and rebuilding nations.
      You are right in one part of your argument: “The quicker the left understands this problem, and begins representing the majority of the working class again, the better they will do in the political arena.” I would amend your statement to “The quicker the left begins representing the majority of the working class again, the better they will do in the political arena.” Mainstream liberal political parties of the West have abandoned their principles of standing up for the working class – Labour in the UK and the Democrats in the US in particular – have been too willing to shift toward the center and center-right when it comes to fiscal and domestic policies, which hits the working class hardest. This abandonment of the working class is unforgivable, and I push those on “my” side to correct that error everyday (which is why I actively campaigned for Bernie Sanders in the US election and supported Hillary Clinton only because the alternative was so much scarier).
      And finally, if people don’t like being labeled as xenophobic or racist, then they shouldn’t be racist or xenophobic. If framing an argument against immigration (whatever that means), using imagery and rhetoric to stoke up antiquated images of scary brown and black people will convince people that one is a racist. I don’t mind a calm conversation about immigration. What I do mind is people suggesting that a ban on Muslims will keep us safer because Islam is incompatible with freedom.
      It’s obvious that you care a lot about the issue – it’s great that you’re well-informed about it. I disagree with everything you said, but it’s important that people remain engaged.
      Thanks again!

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