Thursday, February 13, 2014

How Marine Le Pen Can Save the Repubican Party?


James Poulos makes the case, at Foreign Policy, "The GOP's Savior Is French":

Marine Le Pen photo lepen1_zpscad71828.jpg
... if you want to understand how powerful a popular reaction against regulatory excess can be, one needs to understand the most important figure in France: Marine Le Pen.

But Le Pen isn't just France's biggest story; she's also the French politician with the most significance to domestic politics in the United States. If Marine Le Pen received the attention she deserves, Krugman would have powerful reason to change his tune -- and so would the Republicans he derides. While America's ideological Punch and Judy show bungles along, Le Pen is writing a new handbook of political rules for radicals on the right. She's already changed the game in France itself. And GOP strategists across the Atlantic stand to gain much from following suit.

Yes, Marine Le Pen is from that family -- she's inherited leadership of France's far-fight Front National from her notorious father, the xenophobic Holocaust-minimizer Jean Le Pen. But at 44, Marine has swiftly transformed the Front from a haven for backward-looking haters to an aggressively forward-looking movement. Instead of pounding on well-worn, right-wing themes like "fiscal responsibility" or "social issues," Le Pen puts central the sorts of complaints against big business and big government that most Republicans think too fringe or too quixotic to win elections.

A closer look at her operation would surprise them. In June 2013, the Front National ran level with both the Socialists and the Gaullists. And in a key election that month, as the Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard observed, "the Front scored highest in the most Socialist cantons, a sign that it may be breaking out of its Right-wing enclaves to become the mass movement of the white working class."

How does Le Pen do it? She runs the Front against Brussels and the banks -- stressing that whenever the two meet, the result seems to be that smothering, exploitative, unfree market some Americans call crony capitalism. Though some influential conservative commentators are warming up to Wall Street criticism, the Republican donor class is working overtime to sideline the Gadsden Flag brigades and keep the GOP the Party of Mitt.

Republicans squeal and squeal about socialism, but in France, where socialists really are in charge, the right is outflanking the left by going populist in a new way. Of course, there are stark differences between Europe and the United States. In the Old World, populism has long appealed to a revolutionary future or a reactionary past. In America, populism is more closely associated with protecting the cultural status quo. But Le Pen largely rejects both these models, vowing to replace the E.U. regime with a newly free and sovereign France.

It's the sort of nationalistic play that Republicans can study to improve their own. Since Abraham Lincoln's reelection campaign in 1864, Republicans have rooted their popular appeal squarely in militant nationalism. Today, however, they should recognize that Le Pen's assault on patronage bureaucracy actually heightens nationalism because the system she opposes mostly emanates from Brussels, not Paris. Meanwhile, lacking a meddlesome, supranational North American Union, Republicans running against crony capitalism run against their very own government.
Keep reading.

She's definitely interesting.