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Sacré Bleu! A wave of Tea Party libertarianism is sweeping…France? Je T’Aime, Ron Paul

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Photo Illustration: Ed Johnson/FP

 Libertarianism is sweeping France and upending Europe’s socialist stronghold

Robert Zaretsky writes:  France and Texas go way back. In 1839, as the handsome wood mansion in Austin that housed the French Legation still reminds us, France was one of the few nations to recognize Texas during its short life as a republic. (Although, relations weren’t always cordial, and during the famous “Pig War” of 1841 the French chargé d’affaires had his valet shoot a number of porcine marauders that had invaded his residence.) A few decades later, a motley crew of Provençal poets, enamored of “le wild west,” dressed up as cowboys and Indians, transforming the Camargue, a stretch of swampy land in southern France, into a Mediterranean Texas, replete with bulls and ranches. A few years after that, in 1984, French audiences and the Cannes jury hailed Wim Wenders stunning film “Paris, Texas” — an equally romanticized, though somewhat grimmer, French riff on the Lone Star state.

“Whether it reflected widespread apathy or hostility, France’s unprecedented abstention rate benefitted the conservative opposition’s base…”

Is it possible that France is now importing the brand of conservative politics peculiar to Texas? Following their first round of local elections last Sunday, the French, at least at first glance, seem intent on doing so. Though a second round of voting will take place this Sunday, French voters have already spoken. What they had to say echoes what Texas conservatives, in particular the Tea Party stalwarts, have been saying for some time: Less federal government (whether D.C. or Brussels), more traditional values, and please, no more immigrants trying to change things around here.

“…voter abstention is the ruling Socialist Party’s greatest fear. And the problem has only gotten worse as the approval ratings of national leaders have plummeted. “

To be sure, close to 40 percent of voters spoke by refusing to speak at all: Never before has the abstention rate been so high in a French election. As with the Texas Democrats — scarcely half a million turned out to vote in the most recent primary — voter abstention is the ruling Socialist Party’s greatest fear. And the problem has only gotten worse as the approval ratings of national leaders have plummeted. François Hollande continues to go in public esteem where no French president has ever gone before: Just before the elections, a poll taken by the newspaper Le Figaro placed his approval rating at 17 percent. (For a little perspective, Obama’s approval ratings in Texas are hovering at just above 30 percent.)

Whether it reflected widespread apathy or hostility, France’s unprecedented abstention rate benefitted the conservative opposition’s base. The neo-Gaullist UMP outperformed the Socialists by 8 percentage points in the popular vote, despite being convulsed by a series of financial and political scandals, many tugging at the heels of both their current leader, Jean-François Copé, and those of former President Nicolas Sarkozy. But the real significance of the UMP’s relative success was that it required the party to move substantially to the right.

Like mainstream Texas Republicans, French conservatives have succeeded by glomming onto the worldview espoused by their extreme right flank.

Like mainstream Texas Republicans, French conservatives have succeeded by glomming onto the worldview espoused by their extreme right flank. Indeed, the real winner last Sunday was the extreme-right Front National (FN). The party captured only around 5 percent of the popular vote, but presented candidates in only 600 of the 32,000 towns and cities that held elections over the weekend. This indisputable victory not only could lead to the capture of several city halls, but perhaps more importantly, has already redefined France’s political landscape.

Even from the modest height of the ersatz Eiffel Tower in Paris, Texas, the twinned radicalization of Lone Star and French conservatives unfolds in neat parallel. On a number of issues, the discourses of the Tea Party in Texas and the FN in France have pushed the traditional conservative establishments to the right. While “compassionate conservatives” have long argued for a more humane and generous immigration policy, the Tea Party has pushed mightily in the opposite direction.

Editor’s note: I have to interrupt Robert Zaretsky’s article here to challenge his mischaracterization. It’s a crooked analysis. He writes, “Compassionate conservatives” have long argued for a “more humane” and “more generous” immigration policy while the Tea party has “pushed mightily in the opposite direction” ? The opposite direction meaning, inhumane? Ungenerous? To put it charitably, this is liberal bias. Or, as a Texan would say, this is bullshit.

“Compassionate conservativism”–according to opponents and critics, myself included–is code for “Big Government Republicanism”. What is Big Government Republicanism? It varies from Big Government Liberalism only in that it’s not anti-corporate and not anti-military. Otherwise it’s barely distinguishable from Democratic Liberalism.

It’s pro-business, less sympathetic to the average person, more sympathetic to corporate interests. Because corporations seek the benefits of government protectionism and cheap labor, they have a stake in promoting corrupt immigration policy.

“Compassionate conservatives”, like their liberal partners in government, are more comfortable with deficit spending, protecting and extending entitlements, and the accumulation of Executive power. They are not only disinterested in reforming business-government cronyism, they either passively support it, or actively engage in it.

In defense of maligned Tea Party activists, let’s get something straight here. “Compassionate conservatives” are one of the main reasons that the Tea Party emerged in the first place. Even though they’re often described as “extreme right wing” or “far right wing”, it’s a movement made up of regular folks who were outraged by the Wall Street mess and the big bank bailouts. It’s authentic grass-roots movement dedicated to rejecting the fraud and abuse associated with unchecked government growth, corporate protectionism, and go-along-get-along cronyism.

What is a “humane” immigration policy? A “humane” immigration policy is one that respects the rule of law, understands the meaning of the word “sovereignty”, and seeks to preserve constitutional integrity. This is hardly inhumane, or ungenerous.

I’ll end with this warning to readers, delivered with blunt Texan realism. Every time you see op-ed writers throw around the phrase “extreme right flank”, expect to be showered in bullshit. You may now proceed with Robert Zaretsky’s analysis.

This seismic shift has led to the growing isolation of establishment figures like former President George W. Bush, and the growing prominence of radicals like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who himself becomes a beacon of moderation when compared to Tea Party militants like Senate candidate Chris Mapp, who told the Dallas Morning News that ranchers should be allowed to shoot on sight illegal immigrants — in his words, “wetbacks” — crossing the border….read more…

ForeignPolicy.com

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2 Comments on “Sacré Bleu! A wave of Tea Party libertarianism is sweeping…France? Je T’Aime, Ron Paul”

  1. Gunny G says:

    Reblogged this on CLINGERS… BLOGGING BAD ~ DICK.G: AMERICAN ! and commented:
    GYG!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. […] Pundit from another Planet Libertarianism is sweeping France and upending Europe’s socialist stronghold Robert Zaretsky […]


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