[Editor’s Note: This article was published on the French conservative website Le Salon beige. It’s translated here with permission.]
Several friends, knowing that I am very interested in American politics (I believe I am one of the few French columnists to have attended a Trump event, even before he was nominated as the candidate of the Republican Party in 2016), asked me what I thought of the US presidential election. I would like to try to answer them with this article on the eve of this important vote.
I am not an electoral expert and my first answer would be to invite journalists to humility. If only because most of the French commentators on this crazy campaign only know New York or San Francisco, which are far from all of the United States. Generally speaking, it is quite delicate to “feel” the political passions of a people. And polls can help understand trends and developments, but don’t tell us precisely about the state of mind or especially the motivations of a person or a people: questions determine the type of response and it is well known that pollsters partially – sometimes unintentionally, sometimes to please their clients – distort their own results. So, obviously, the Trump vote is underestimated by pollsters, for the simple reason that most voters have accepted the idea that, according to the nomenklatura, voting Trump is “redneck”, while voting Biden is “elegant”. This is called the Bradley effect.
It should be added that the vote on November 3rd is not a direct popular election: the US presidential race is by indirect suffrage, state-by-state, and not by direct suffrage of the whole nation. It is therefore perfectly possible to win with fewer votes than your opponent. This is what happened to Donald Trump in 2016: he lost the popular vote, but won the electoral vote. However, electoral rules differ from state to state and it is therefore very difficult to extrapolate from a nationwide poll the number of delegates each of the two candidates will obtain.
It should also be noted that fraud could well be massive: there have been many postal votes, and the Democrats have a reputation (which they do not dispute and of which, on the contrary, they gladly boast) of being much better than the Republicans to fetch such votes. However, in the United States, we know quite precisely which demographics vote in what way. So it may be tempting for an organization with Democratic sympathies to reach out to all the seniors in the neighborhood and offer to mail their vote – and then throw away letters from Republican sympathizers.
In short, tomorrow’s election is probably even more uncertain than the last.
But it is not without interest to note that, despite the power of the American president, the presidential election in the United States does not have the unique importance of France’s presidential election. Certainly – and I will of course come to this point – it is not at all indifferent whether Trump or Biden wins, for the United States first, but also for the whole Western world and even for the whole world. But their election will not be the only result nor the only lesson of November 3. The majority in the Senate and in the House are no less important – and can be largely “uncorrelated” from the presidential election (in 2016, Trump had won in states which had elected, on the same day, only Democratic parliamentarians, and this was far from being a unique case). The recent appointment of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court is also critically important – especially as the latter should be able to hold office for decades. And I am not talking here of the countless referenda on which the Americans will have to vote tomorrow; voters will also have, in addition to the president, one or several Congressmen or Senators to vote on, alongside a dozen subjects varying from public lighting to the restriction of abortion.
Which means that even if Biden wins, it won’t necessarily be a crushing defeat for the Republicans nor, much less – and this matters to me more – for the Conservatives (who are electorally linked to the Republican Party, but have a largely autonomous political agenda). The reverse is also true.
The main novelty of this campaign, according to what I can perceive from reading the American press (but without having been, this year, to the United States as I usually do a few weeks a year), is that the country is more fractured than ever. The United States has never been a nation in the French sense of the word: it would be much more an empire made up of myriads of nations more or less foreign to each other, and united by a kind of civic religion that is not unlike that of the ancient Roman Empire. But it is striking that the racial riots, the partisan attacks and the repeated political crises of the last months have caused the different communities to drift apart from each other, sometimes to the point where they can no longer even find a common ground. Not only is their life not the same (it was already the case before: a first generation Italian immigrant lived very differently from an Englishman whose family was established before the independence of the thirteen colonies); not only is the media they consult no longer the same; but their language is no longer the same, their imagination is no longer the same, the country they love is no longer the same. Trump and Biden bear some responsibility for this state of affairs, but there is nothing they can do about it, and the victor will not even rule a divided America: rather, half the country will regard him as illegitimate and will despise him.
This is bound to have consequences for the future of the country – and the Western world in general. This certainly does not mean that the United States is going to cease to be a great power – or to cease to be the first power in the world. But they are clearly going to be weakened by their own divisions – which, in my opinion, are deep and lasting.
At the ideological level, as in 2016, there are real stakes in this election. It has not always been the case. For decades Democrats and Republicans have shared much of their beliefs. Democrats were much less collectivist than their colleagues in European Social Democratic parties, and Republicans refrained from discussing topics like immigration. The arrival of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders has changed things deeply. By the way, this is also one of the aspects of the Bradley effect that I spoke about above: since no one in the Republican Party (with the notable exception of Pat Buchanan) spoke of immigration, nor of multilateral trade treaties, everyone assumed that immigration and the loss of industry were not political issues in the United States. As soon as Trump put these topics on the table, it became evident that they were major topics and this is irreversible: the political platform of the Republican Party has changed in the long term, whether Trump wins tomorrow or not.
If these few lines may have helped to qualify the cookie-cutter comments of so many French commentators a little, they will not have been useless.
But I would like to take the opportunity to make my case for why I want Donald Trump to win. I am aware that this position appears wacky or odious in the French politico-media landscape – but I have a little habit of not being exactly in the same positions as my eminent colleagues in the “mainstream media”. Moreover, the interests of the United States and those of France do not coincide and, just as much I would badly appreciate Americans giving me lessons in French patriotism, so I would certainly not allow myself to give lessons to those of my American friends who will read this article. I would just like to explain why, from the point of view of a Catholic and a French right-wing man, Trump’s victory would be good news.
First, I must say I don’t idealize his character. I continue to be taken aback to see him practicing his “Twitter diplomacy”, sometimes cajoling, sometimes insulting his opponents, always giving them outlandish nicknames. Nor do I forget that many of my conservative American friends were initially very reserved, if not hostile, toward this strange candidate. But I never understood how French journalists managed to portray him as a complete jerk: a man who has led three different careers at the highest level, first as a construction billionaire, then as a television producer, and finally as President of the United States of America, cannot be totally devoid of talent or charisma! In any event, what matters to me, as a Frenchman, not directly involved in this campaign, is not the person of Trump or Biden, but what their election will entail politically.
The first reason why I’d consider Trump’s victory a good thing has to do with “social conservatism” issues, that is to say the defense of human life, of the family, of marriage, etc. Donald Trump was certainly not with us on these issues before. But he made a “deal” with the Conservatives and he has kept his word wonderfully. Never under a Republican mandate had the pro-life cause progressed more. Not just in the United States, but around the world. In particular, it is now prohibited to use federal money to fund abortion in Africa or South America. This does not prevent the very powerful pro-death lobby of Planned Parenthood from dumping millions of dollars all over the world, but now they do so only without the help of the US government. Above all, Donald Trump has appointed an unprecedented number of conservative federal judges and this is crucial for the future. He not only appointed 3 new judges to the Supreme Court, securing a conservative majority in this so important part of the American constitutional apparatus, but more than 200 federal judges. For us pro-life French, this is a fantastic sign of hope: it is possible to regain lost ground and to concretely and sustainably advance the culture of life. Needless to say, the arrival of Joe Biden would change everything, as he is bound to the culture of death.
The second reason relates to foreign policy. Trump’s denunciation of “globalist” agreements seems to me to be a step in the direction of restoring healthy diplomatic relations. It is indeed delusional that technocrats without any political legitimacy arrogate to themselves the right to disrupt the lives of billions of human beings in the name of their whims of the moment – from financial deregulation to the fight against global warming to the imposition of democracy with bombs. I also very much appreciated the fight of Donald Trump against the neo-conservatives within his own Republican party; and I fear, indirectly, that his defeat would lead to the return of the faults of the Dutch messianism which believes it can “pacify” peoples by flattening them under carpets of bombs!
Finally, a third element in Trump’s record makes me want to see him win again: his fight for borders and against migratory invasion. Of course, American demographic history has nothing to do with ours (the French people have remained extraordinarily stable from the Gauls to the twentieth century), and certainly immigration to the United States is mostly Catholic immigration and work immigration (and therefore much more easily assimilated than the Muslim immigration which constitutes a large part of the approximately 500,000 people who arrive in France each year). But it seems all the more interesting to me that a senior American politician questions the dogma of the interchangeability of human beings and the harmfulness of borders. Borders are necessary for our identity – and therefore are the condition of our dialogue with other civilizations.
On this subject, the tragedies which have recently occurred in France sound like a warning elsewhere in the Western world, and in the United States in particular: we have globally, as a Western civilizational sphere, structured by Christianity, a problem with Islam. Muslim immigration is necessarily of a different nature than other immigrations which are either also marked by Christianity (such as South American immigration to the United States or Polish immigration to France), or have remained foreign to the West for centuries (like Asian immigration). Islam, on the contrary, is doctrinally defined against Christianity (the profession of Koranic faith begins with “la”, “no” in Arabic language: no there is no other God than God, which is an explicit challenge to the dogma of the Holy Trinity); and, since the founding of Islam, we have practically always been at war. You can’t cross that out easily. Several American conservative friends have told me that they welcome Emmanuel Macron’s recent firm speech against Islamism. But this is clearly just a speech – whereas Donald Trump is a man of action, a “doer”. And, above all, Macron’s speech carefully avoids the annoying questions (and in particular the responsibility of Islam as such in the heinous assassinations which have bloodied France in recent weeks): and certainly no one can accuse Donald Trump of avoiding awkward subjects!
One final word: Donald Trump’s best electoral argument, even more than his objectively good record, are his opponents. Not only Joe Biden, but his presumed vice-president, Kamala Harris, incarnation of the “government of judges” which once challenged, without any political legitimacy, the results of the Californian referendum on marriage to please liberal ideologues, not to mention a Democratic party deeply radicalized and become violently hostile to the very idea of Western civilization, active supportive of race riots and partisan to the “Great reset”, the globalist-socialist transformation of which the henchmen of the financial oligarchy dream and which—under cover of the fight against terrorism, or the pandemic, or global warming—would willingly suppress all national and individual liberties.
So, yes, without hesitation, and whatever the French chattering caste may think, I’m one of those who would be happy tomorrow if Donald Trump wins!
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