Using the words “happy” and “French” in the same sentence rarely makes any sense but when the new president’s name, Emmanuel Macron, was announced on Sunday, 66% of the French voter population screamed with joy. (Well, maybe a few of them screamed with relief but it was a blissful sound nonetheless.) Mr. Macron, the Centrist Independent candidate defeated Marine Le Pen, the National Front contender. The presidential campaign had been full of diabolical twists and turns. Macron came out of nowhere and Le Pen came out of hatred and populism. But, suddenly on Sunday, the French broke into a collective smile – a genuine one at that.
The French were not alone in their euphoria. The whole world seemed to join in this Globalization of Glee as congratulations poured in from all over Europe, Asia and even from the USA. It was a landslide victory for a 39-year-old man who, until three years ago, was an unknown entity on the French political scene. The polls had him favored to win but only by a slight margin. Twelve million voters abstained, which was clearly a sign in Le Pen’s favor. Four million more voted blank (but we wouldn’t know that until the evening) and another million voters “spoiled” their ballots. However, 75% of eligible French voters cast their ballot and overwhelmingly repudiated hate and nationalism. I want to address those voters and simply say Merci, Merci, Merci!
Firstly, thank you for restoring hope and good sense to this world. All eyes were on France for this important election and you came through for us. After Brexit and Trump, we knew a Far-Right French president would mean the unequivocal end to Europe and the beginning of social uncertainty. You saved us from that – at least for the next five years.
Secondly, thanks for your electoral system. I know you think it was a long, annoying haul listening to the eleven politicians who ran for president but it was relatively short compared to the years of campaigning we go through in the USA.
It was just a question of months here in France. You had only one primary for the Socialist party and one for the Republican party. There were only two weeks between the first and final round of the presidential elections. The new president won by a simple majority of votes. A vote in Lille counted as much as a vote in Paris. No electoral college. Just old-fashioned, simple arithmetic. And, the icing on the presidential cake, is that there is only one week between the election and the inauguration of the new president. One week! Emmanuel Macron was elected on May 7th; he’ll take office on May 14th and nobody cares about who will be singing at his inauguration.
Thirdly, thank you for your election media coverage. Although some channels are getting a bit “Americanized,” the overwhelming majority of French journalists and presenters are serious characters who do their homework. They ask relevant questions and cover pertinent issues. There are times when guests talk over each other during a discussion and no one can understand anything but they are still addressing political issues. None of your journalists gossiped about anyone’s family members during the campaign. When there was a wiki leaks story concerning one of the candidates two days before the election, you journalists decided not to make a big deal of it. Such a welcome change.
Another thing I want to thank you for is your arrogance and unwavering intellectual superiority. I know that might sound strange but the fact that critical thinking is in the French DNA can be a good thing. It might also be exasperating and rude but, in this case, it worked for the common good. You didn’t take the easy road of populism. You spent some time and brainpower thinking your way through a complicated, divisive and serious situation. You decided that even though the choices were not perfect, the consequences of a far-right president were too dreadful to let this happen. You elected an intelligent person who reads and writes. We elected a person who tweets.
And finally, French voters, thank you for embarrassing Donald Trump and the Americans in general. Trump did send a congratulatory tweet to Mr. Macron but we all know he would have welcomed Marine Le Pen with open arms, considering her to be a blonde, French version of himself. He would have insisted he helped her get elected. He might even have planned a trip to Paris to see his imaginary friend “Jim.”
Thanks for showing the world that the USA is not the political center of the universe. And, in the end, thank you for being so…French!