French voters admirably stuck with a solid, sensible mainstream candidate in choosing as their next president Emmanuel Macron. His win over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen – compared by some to the political revolutionary Donald Trump – should calm his country and the world.
Le Pen likely would have pulled France out of NATO and the European Union, and that would have set off domestic turmoil (and economic turmoil, of course) all over Europe. Macron, on the other hand, is a progressive and will support a strong EU and an alliance with the United States. Le Pen, reported The Washington Post, seemed to lean more toward Russia than the U.S. – a preposterous notion, except in the minds of those who supported the ultra-right candidate.
France has been a U.S. ally, joining as part of NATO in pro-U.S. operations in Afghanistan and in airstrikes against the Islamic State. And, a mainstream France will help to unify all of Europe, shaken by the Brexit vote in 2016 in which the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU.
Macron, 39, is an investment banker savvy in the ways of French politics, and a liberal by most definitions. He is, in other words, the opposite of President Trump, who rode to his own victory last year on a tide of right-wing, anti-government sentiment. Trump did call to congratulate Macron.
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This is a refreshing and “settling” development in a country struck by terrorist attacks and in need of level-headed strategy to fight that battle and the economic challenges facing all of Europe.
It’s interesting that the right-wing, anti-government mood in the U.S. — which has since seemed to fade as the reality and impracticality of some of Trump’s ideas has become evident – didn’t seem to carry the day in France. In fact, that’s an understatement, as Macron won a landslide victory.
The outcome should have a positive effect on the United States, from the financial markets to putting Trump in the company of another president with ideas much different from his own. (Canada’s Justin Trudeau being another not-Trump chief executive.) Trump may never moderate his views in a significant way, but he will have to share the world stage with leaders with more experience and a more practical sense of how to approach shared problems, terrorism first among them.
And it’s always been true that despite his campaign bluster, Trump’s no ideologue at his core. He tends to sway toward the politics of the popular, and to respond mainly not to ideas but to the public’s response to him. Other leaders may well be able to bring him around to their viewpoints if he believes such will make him popular with the American people.
Macron is a good ally to have, for he will make his own country stronger, and will share and shape enlightened views about world politics with other leaders, including Donald Trump.