In my year in France, I never once heard anyone speak with enthusiasm about Emmanuel Macron.
For those of you who’ve forgotten the bitterness of late 2018, let me summarize. The leading figure in the world trying to tear down the postwar liberal order is Donald Trump, the most destructive force the world has seen in my lifetime. Against him, the leading figure trying to sustain the postwar liberal order is Emmanuel Macron, the first truly international leader Europe has produced since Angela Merkel.
Yet as of this month, in their home countries, Macron’s popularity ratings are lower than Trump’s (low thirties vs. mid-thirties). “Well you know,” is the typical assessment of educated thoughtful French, “he’s a man of the Right.”
What this means in effect is that rather than stand up for the world we believe in, we prefer to wait for somebody better than Macron to come along, and then we’ll think again. I hope you see that this note is not about the French, but about human nature.
[16 October 2018]