If you listen carefullu, you can hear the muttering of concern and even panic in rooms that used to be smoke filled where the political elites gather to decide the future of nations.
On one side of the Atlantic, a mercurial and bloviating businessman and media figure stalks the studios and political arenas of America, saying alarming things. Build a wall on the southern border and make the Mexicans pay for it. Deport all 11 million illegal aliens forthwith. Bar all Muslims from entering the country “temporarily.”
On the other side of the Atlantic, a striking, blond woman in middle age is also saying alarming things, railing against immigrants, especially Muslims, free trade, same-sex marriage, the Euro, the European Union, and NATO. To be sure, she is a little different from her American counterpart in that she is attempting to cloak her agenda in reasonableness.
Both politicians, Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen, are showing surprising strength, the former in the upcoming American presidential election, the latter in French regional elections, though Le Pen’s National Front Party failed to win any regions in the second voting round. Politicians in the major parties of both the United States and France have denounced Trump and Le Pen as dangerous extremists. Those attacks just make the Trump, and Le Pen fan bases love them even more. The political elites in the United States and France have only themselves to blame.
The key to stopping Trump and Le Pen from becoming leaders of their respective countries lays in arriving at alternate candidates for the president of the United States and the president of the French Republic who can solve the problems of economic malaise and Islamist terror without leading their respective countries into ruin. Ted Cruz, the passionate, brainy senator from Texas may be the only hope of avoiding a Trump presidency, but if anything the American political elites detest him even more than Trump. It is unclear who or what can stop Le Pen. Hollande’s Socialists are likely doomed in the 2017 French presidential elections. Sarkozy, the leader of the French Republican Party, did not cover himself with glory the last time he was president of the French Republic. His presidency was mired in scandal, and he veered into his own form of socialism during the 2007-08 world economic crisis.
The twin Trump and Le Pen stories provide a kind of cautionary tale for politicians of all stripes in a democracy. If one allows problems to fester for too long, the people are going to turn to someone else. That someone else may not be the sort of person who needs to be given control of a great country, such as the United States or France. Their proposed solutions may be even less attractive.