Le Pen Was No Trump and the French Election Was No Brexit: The Polls Got It Right This Time.

Donald Trump put out a gracious note to Emmanuel Macron on Sunday evening, congratulating him on his win over Marine Le Pen in his bid to claim the French presidency: “Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win today as the next President of France! I look very much forward to working with him!” Although Trump had words of support for Le Pen earlier this year, he had fallen well short of any formal endorsement. In contrast, during the first round of voting two weeks ago (apparently taking a break from preparing to give $400,000 Wall Street speeches) former President Barack Obama waded into the election by making a much-publicized supportive call to Emmanuel Macron, and Obama made his endorsement of Macron official this past Thursday in a video saying in part: “I know that you face many challenges, and I want all of my friends in France to know how much I am rooting for your success … Because of how important this election is, I also want you to know I am supporting Emmanuel Macron to lead you forward. En March! Vive la France!” And once the results came in on Sunday evening showing that Macron had bested Le Pen, former presidential candidate (and wannabe 2020 presidential candidate) Hillary Clinton weighed in too, managing to make the election results about herself, tweeting out: “Victory for Macron, for France, the EU, & the world. Defeat to those interfering w/ democracy. (But the media says I can’t talk about that).” This was apparently in reference to Macron’s emails being hacked and then made public (like Wikileaks did to Clinton), although this seemed to demonstrate that a candidate can, in fact, win despite some hacked emails. That is, of course, if they’re a halfway decent candidate.

MACRON DEFEATS LE PEN

In the hotly-contested French presidential race between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, though the race was closely-watched the official results themselves didn’t end up being too close – Macron defeated Le Pen by a wide margin of roughly 66.06% to 33.94% (more than a 30-point spread) as of the time of this writing. Put simply, in the end the race wasn’t much of a race. Emmanuel Macron – leader of his independent party En Marche! (On the Move!) – and Marine Le Pen – leader of the National Front party – differed strongly on many key issues, and so the French people’s choices were pretty clear. Where Macron favored staying in the European Union, keeping the Euro, bringing in high-skilled labor from outside the country, sanctioning Russia, strengthening the French role in NATO, and allowing for continued immigration (including from Muslim-majority nations), Le Pen took very divergent views – she advocated leaving the EU, ditching the Euro, prioritizing French workers, lifting sanctions on Russia, questioning NATO, and severely restricting (if not ending entirely) immigration from Muslim countries. After they both made it through the first round of voting, Macron consistently polled well ahead of Le Pen, with an average margin of 61.5% to 38.5% – and in the end Macron actually slightly over-performed with Le Pen under-performing slightly. Although some outlets tried pushing the idea that Le Pen really could upset Macron a la the Brexit win and the Trump victory, polling from all three events showed that the French election simply was not comparable, at all, to the British & American elections, and that Macron’s win over Le Pen was never really in doubt.

IT WASN’T BREXIT & IT WASN’T TRUMP:

THE POLLS IN FRANCE GOT IT RIGHT

The first round of voting in the French presidential election took place two weeks ago on April 23, 2017 – and for the first time in French presidential history, neither of the two candidates that emerged to face off against each other for the May 7, 2017 run off were from a major party. Emmanuel Macron of En Marche! (with 23.7%) and Marine Le Pen of the National Front (with 21.7%) defeated leftist Unsubmissive France candidate Jean Luc Melenchon (with 19.5%), Republican Francois Fillon (also with 19.5%), and Socialist Benoit Hamon (with 6.2%). The election results for the first round of voting were almost exactly in line with what the election polling predicted, which was the first major sign that the second round of voting would likely line up with polling as well. As Nate Silver, election data guru of Five Thirty Eight put it back on April 23, 2017:

Emmanuel Macron, a centrist candidate, and Marine Le Pen, of the far-right-wing National Front, will advance to a runoff in the French presidential election, after finishing in the top two positions in a first-round vote on Sunday. Macron is an overwhelming favorite to win the runoff on May 7. But we’re likely to hear two weeks of punditry that draws misleading comparisons between Le Pen, President Trump and Brexit – and that exaggerates Le Pen’s chances as a result. The pre-election polls – which had shown Macron at 24 percent, Le Pen at 22 percent, the center-right François Fillon at 20 percent and the far-left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon at 19 percent – should come within a percentage point or two of the final result for each of the top four candidates.”

So the polls for the first round of French voting were accurate down to about one percent, meaning that only an extremely tight race would be likely see a Le Pen win over Macron – put as pointed out earlier, the margin was never close to 1%, or even 10%, as it hovered around 20% or more the entire time. This was vastly different than the polling situation regarding both the June 2016 Brexit vote and the November 2016 Trump-Clinton election, where polls were actually extremely close. As Nate Silver further pointed out:

Before the U.S. election, Trump trailed Hillary Clinton by only about 2 percentage points in the average swing state. In the Brexit vote, the ‘Remain’ campaign’s lead was at least as narrow: about 2 points according to a simple average of polls, or just 0.5 percentage points according to a more complex averaging method. So while Trump’s victory and Brexit were historic events in world history, they were utterly routine occurrences from a polling standpoint; 2- or 3-point polling errors are extremely common.”

Where Trump was just a normal polling error behind Clinton, Le Pen was a gargantuan polling error behind Macron. All of the talk about Le Pen somehow pulling off a Brexit or a Trump were simply not based in reality – the British & American races were pretty tight throughout and were tightening down the homestretch, whereas the French election looked like a blow out from start to finish. Pollsters certainly have a lot to answer for in missing the Brexit & Trump phenomenons by a bit – but any commentators predicting a Le Pen win were never basing that possibility on anything but wishful thinking. While some may have wanted Le Pen to win (and many argued that she would be the preferable candidate), the facts never indicated that it was ever going to happen. Facts don’t care about your feelings, unfortunately.

WHAT THIS ALL MEANS

Many on the Right seemed to see some sort of kinship with Marine Le Pen, based upon her anti-EU and anti-immigration stances, specifically her desire to limit Islamic immigration into France. But French politics is not American politics – there is no limited government, pro-liberty, pro-free markets party in France. Emmanuel Macron certainly didn’t stand for any of those things and neither did Marine Le Pen and neither did the assortment of other candidates who got the boot after the first round. It simply doesn’t exist in France. And though Le Pen was routinely called “Far Right”, this is extremely misleading in an American context, and American conservatives should have been much more hesitant in embracing Le Pen. Jonah Goldberg over at National Review made the distinctions between Le Pen and the American Right pretty clear when he wrote:

As for what constitutes ‘far-right,’ that has come to be defined as a grab bag of bigotry, nativism, and all the bad kinds of nationalism. Le Pen is the youngest daughter of the even more ‘far-right’ anti-Semitic politician Jean-Marie Le Pen, who until recently led the National Front party (FN), which was founded in 1972 by, among others, veterans of the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy government … Le Pen rejects the ‘far-right’ label, preferring a ‘third-way’ approach that has a long intellectual history among nationalists and fascists. She says that the symbiotic issues of immigration and globalization (specifically relating to the European Union) yielded a new politics that ‘no longer put the right and left in opposition, but patriots and globalists’ … Her ‘economic patriotism’ – a mélange of anti-immigration, protectionism, support for civil-service protections, and entitlements (at least for the native-born French) – is an updated variant of old-fashioned national-socialism.”

Le Pen didn’t care about the traditional left-right divide (big government vs. limited government, socialism vs. free markets, and so on), but was clearly much more concerned with the issues of EU globalism vs. French nationalism, advocating at times for policies that are fairly foreign to traditional conservatism inside the United States. The singular issue that did seem to connect her to the Right was her stance on Islamic extremism (and France’s pro-unfettered immigration, pro-open borders policy towards it), a problem that elites in France have ignored for decades:

The topic became radioactive for reasonable politicians, creating an opening for unreasonable ones among the working-class constituencies most affected by immigration. This is precisely what has happened in France. Interviews with Le Pen voters tell this story over and over again. They bemoan the great replacement’ of not only workers but also customs, traditions, and lifestyles brought by waves of immigrants. These resentments are perhaps more acute in France than elsewhere, a country where national identity precedes political and ideological orientations, and where assimilation is narrowly defined. But the same dynamic is playing itself out across Europe and America.”

While many on the American Right didn’t really care that Le Pen was no true conservative (arguing that there were way bigger things at stake than whether she fit such labels), many others have pointed out that her losing out to Macron might not be the worst outcome. Le Pen was no real friend of the United States – her pro-Putin and anti-NATO stances were extremely troubling and her being a pro-abortion socialist didn’t exactly make her some conservative hero – but she did touch on an immigration issue that is roiling Western nations worldwide and fueling anti-elite populist sentiments across the globe. Someone like Le Pen is what you get when your country ignores these problems for far too long. But, as the election results in France showed, sometimes this populism only goes so far. Again, Brexit is not Trump is not Le Pen – and the massive wave that carried ‘Leave’ to a Brexit victory and Trump to a presidential win didn’t make it very far up the French shore.

Why Euro-Nationalism Is Dangerous While Americanism Isn’t

I just spent a week in Europe, including a Eurotunnel hop to France on their election day. I had a beer and played an ancient billiards machine in a small pub in Dunkirk run by a man born in 1945. I spoke to Brits and American ex-pats from various parts of England and came away with a variety of opinions on Brexit, America, and President Trump.

Europeans are very much into discussing Trump, and generally trolling any American who doesn’t display sufficient venom and hatred of him. I’ve been criticized by American liberals in the same way, and of course by Trump Kool-Aid drinkers who think I must have carried a Hillary sign because I recognized the factual negatives of a Trump presidency.

But, short of a nuclear war, which is only barely more perceptible inside the realm of fathomability, Trump represents little more than a blip on the slope produced by the American political equation. But someone like Marine Le Pen represents a much greater threat to Europe than Trump does to America.

It’s not just Le Pen. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, leader of the Syriza (officially “Coalition of the Radical Left”) party; Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders, whose PVV party controls 13 percent of the Dutch House of Representatives and 12 percent of the Dutch Senate;  Turkish President-cum-dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Britain’s Brexit vote all represent a swing toward European nationalism.

With the possible exception of Turkey, European nations are governed by a secular humanist worldview, one in which quality of life, fairness, and cultural distinctions are central to their thinking. In social liberalism, all the EU nations (Turkey having stalled their joining) share the same cultural liberalism and moral relativism. The term “conservative” in Europe has quite a different meaning than it does in America.

What we’re seeing in Europe is actually dangerous. I’m no fan of one-world government globalism, or some utopian panacea to produce Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité forever. But forgive me for pointing out that Europeans, untethered from the requirements of entwined interests, tend to pursue extremely self-interested courses, regardless of the political philosophy or structure of state government applied to each nation.

In other words, Napoleon, Mussolini, Kaiser Wilhelm, Tsar Nicholas II, Stalin, and Hitler were all woven from the same loom, if not cut from the same cloth. Nationalism, socialism, national socialism, communism, monarchy, or the Jacobins–take your pick. They all inexorably fell to the same result: war, death, conquest, and the conquered.

The British have the advantage of an island mentality, never having fully bought into the continental mindset. They also have a functioning, if vestigial, monarchy, heading both the Church and State–a moral anchor of sorts in times of extreme distress. Reference King George VI’s 1939 speech, calling his people to a moral cause that many found politically distasteful.

It is a principle which permits a state, in the selfish pursuit of power, to disregard its treaties and its solemn pledges, which sanctions the use of force or threat of force against the sovereignty and independence of other states.

Such a principle, stripped of all disguise, is surely the mere primitive doctrine that might is right, and if this principle were established through the world, the freedom of our own country and of the whole British Commonwealth of nations would be in danger.

The alignments, royal intermarriages, and mutual defense treaties formed before the last world war have now been replaced by economic alliances and the bureaucratic monstrosity of the EU. But the results have not been what was promised to the little guys who run bars in Dunkirk, or clubs in Paris.

While American conservatives worry about losing the war on marriage, religious freedom, pro-life, and gun rights, Europeans struggle with the dark pull of true xenophobia, racism, blood and soil. And while there’s a small contingent of “alt-right” idiots in America, joined by a fringe of outright bigots who wish to redefine “American” in their own tenebrous guise, in Europe there is a cultural core in danger of losing its own identity.

America is by nature a pluralistic, multi-cultural society linked by shared values. European nations, by nature, are homogenous and culturally linked by history and ancestral claims. It is much more likely that a Europe transformed by nationalist forces will succumb to a domino effect, collapsing much of what the EU–as ghastly as it is–prevented. It prevented the next conquerer from arising and wrecking havoc upon the world.

With England all but out, this leaves the continentals to themselves, and that is the singular reason England probably should have stayed in–for its own long-term good. The seeds of nationalism have been planted for years, and now we’re seeing the stems break ground. Seeds always dig roots first when they germinate.

This year, Geert Wilders and PVV lost in the Netherlands. Marine Le Pen has stepped aside from the far-right National Front (FN) party to distance herself from the image of neo-Nazis. Polls still show her trailing badly behind “centrist” Emmanuel Macron for the May 7 runoff. (In France, a “centrist” is equivalent to a far-left Democrat in the U.S.) Greece is a non-issue unless it defaults on repeated bailouts for its near-bankrupt and unemployed economy.

The tilt toward European nationalism, spurred on by immigrant Muslim communities (which between France and Germany represent nearly 10 million population, or between 5 and 7 percent) that refuse to integrate, and breed violence, will only increase.

America, despite what liberals tell you, eventually becomes the melting pot. We go through spasms of “America first,” populist, anti-immigrant rants, then settle down again. Americanism and the trash it hauls in its wake may be very distasteful, and the stuff of bad jokes and sneering in Europe, but it’s not going to be a danger in terms of conquest. Since President James K. Polk sent Gen. Winfield Scott to siege Chapultepec and conquer Mexico City (assisted by his aide, Captain Robert E. Lee), the United States has been pretty quiet about making war to win resources and territory.

Europe, on the other hand, is crowded and diverse, rooted in history, culture, and claims to land. Should Le Pen win, all eyes will be on France to see if the purges begin. Even with Macron, it’s likely the country will face some crisis to deal with Muslim encroachment on its culture. The same with Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Greece, Austria, and Denmark.

When the nationalist seed keeps producing shoots in Europe, eventually, one of those is going to bud. Brexit is the beginning. The end will be when one continental nation decides to forcibly expel its nonconformists, leading to a skirmish with a country like Turkey. It could go down like the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Or it could go like the Munich Agreement of 1938.

While sophisticate Europeans call Trump supporters “Nazis,” they foolishly cry “peace in our time,” ignoring the very seeds of actual Nazis growing under their own noses. I’ll take Americanism over European nationalism every time.

Brexit: Is PM May Brilliant or Will It All Go Pear-Shaped?

British Prime Minister Theresa May broke her vow not to seek early elections and called a snap national election on June 8, exploiting what’s widely been called a weakness in her opposition.

The Labour Party was caught completely flat-footed, so many think this was a brilliant move to consolidate power and consensus in Parliament over Brexit. Last month, May formally invoked “Article 50” which started a two-year clock for the U.K. to remove itself from the European Union.

Is it brilliant? The Washington Post offers some strong evidence.

The Labour Party has been at war with itself since the election of the far-left Jeremy Corbyn as leader in September 2015. A recent poll showed that, in a head-to-head matchup between May and Corbyn, not even a majority of Labour votes would want Corbyn as their prime minister.

Other parties are similarly weakened, or more so. UKIP, having fulfilled its purpose and without its leader Nigel Farage, may as well fold into May’s Conservative Party, and the Liberal Democrats are a tiny shell of their former selves.

This could either go very well for May, giving her a firm mandate at Westminster, or it could unravel Brexit if voters make this a referendum–a do-over–on Brexit.

Imagine if the U.S. had a parliamentary system like England, where Speaker Paul Ryan could simply call for new elections in 51 days? The liberals would be calling for new elections every six months until they got their way. Hillary Clinton would never go away, and Bernie Sanders would have 100-foot billboards all over the east and west coasts. It would be absolute Bedlam.

I’m flying out across the pond tonight (not for this). I’ll follow this story from England. They can much better explain the fineries of their electoral and legislative system to me than I could ever learn on my own. It’s like trying to learn cricket. If you don’t grow up with the game, don’t even bother.

But in England, snap elections, do-overs, and their own brand of politics is all they know. Hopefully, May has this well thought out. As they say over there, it could definitely go pear-shaped if she doesn’t.

BREAKING: UK Will Host Election June 8th, Conservatives Expected to Dominate

Earlier today, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that her nation will push forward their upcoming general election to June 8th–a move that has been labelled a “snap” election.

Her full remarks on the subject can be found below:

This comes at the heels of the impending U.K. exit from the European Union, which was officially launched its exit on March 29th. If all goes to plan, Great Britain will be fully autonomous by March 2019.

Per initial polling from YouGov, if the general election were held today, the Conservative Party would hold an overwhelming lead with 44 percent of the vote — followed by Labour Party (23%), Liberal Democrat Party(12%), UKIP Party (10%), and other parties (10%).

It’s refreshing to see Great Britain reasserting itself as a leader in Europe. Let’s hope the current May government stays in office so reformers can continue to influence policy there.

 

Britain Filed for Divorce From the E.U. Today

Great Britain has began the formal process to leave the European Union. This came after residents of the country voted for autonomy last June with a vote of  51.9-48.1 percent in favor of the “Leave” campaign. The election boasted a historic 77.2% turnout. Following “Leave” campaign’s success, Prime Minister David Cameron resigned and his fellow Conservative Party member Theresa May assumed the prime minister role.

Today, Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty –which has never been invoked before — will be used to begin Great Britain’s formal divorce from the E.U. This will initiate two years of lengthy negotiations with respect to autonomy and trade–with a formal British exit expected by March 2019. If no formal agreement is reached or agreed to by the remaining EU countries within two years’ time, then Great Britain will be under the duress of the World Trade Organization and have tariffs imposed on all goods the nation sells to the E.U.

Here are the provisions for Article 50 of the aforementioned treaty, which would theoretically penalize any member that decides to leave:

1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

For context as to why the vote took place, I recommend watching “Brexit The Movie”:

Why Brexit? The Brits were tired of taking decrees from Brussels–the epicenter of the E.U. How can a continent-wide entity decide the fate or best represent all 27 countries? It clearly can’t. And we’ll see more countries attempt to defect and similarly regain autonomy.

Plus, for Americans, travel to Britain is expected to become cheaper — an expected 20 percent in savings.

What will other tangible benefits of Brexit be? We are expected to have better U.S.-U.K. trade relations and a renewed friendship that soured under the last administration.

For those asserting Brexit in any way, shape, or form is an endorsement of pro-Kremlin activists should be dismissed. Both the European Union and Putin’s attempt to create a Eurasian Union are terrible arrangements which fail to promote autonomous countries, free market ideals, and limited government. This dichotomy musth be rejected when thinking in terms of Brexit.

Overall, Americans should welcome Brexit. Countries desiring to be autonomous and more freedom-minded should be embraced in the 21st century. Cheers to our friends across the pond!

 

BREAKING: Brexit Hits a Major Snag

CNN is reporting that the U.K.’s Hight Court ruled the government must seek Parliament’s authority to trigger Article 50 of the EU treaty, effectively putting the kibosh on a quick path to Brexit.

The U.K. High Court ruled that lawmakers should vote on whether the government can begin the formal Brexit process by triggering Article 50 of the EU treaty.

Experts say parliament is unlikely to block Brexit outright. But the ruling could mean Brexit is delayed, and lawmakers may get a chance to influence what kind of deal the government negotiates with the EU.

The highest court in the U.K., Britain’s Supreme Court, will likely hear the government’s appeal in December, but this development puts the brakes on a quick implementation timeline for Brexit.

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said he feared voters would be betrayed.

“I now fear that every attempt will be made to block or delay the triggering of Article 50,” he said. “If this is so, they have no idea of the level of public anger they will provoke.”

The voice of the people, apparently, is not sufficient to overcome the all-powerful elites in government, the courts, and the media, who mainly opposed Brexit. By hook or by crook, they seem intent on stopping the process.

DR Radio

Dead Reckoning Radio: Brexit, SCOTUS, and Benghazi

  • Will Britain fall apart after Brexit?
  • What does the SCOTUS decision on Whole Women’s Health mean for pro-lifers?
  • Is the final Benghazi report important?

We talk about this and more in the latest DR Radio episode. Join hosts Jay, Brian, and Hadley for fun and deep conversations. For the full show notes or to subscribe to the podcast feed, visit our website.

Long and Short-Term Consequences of Brexit

The vagaries of European politics have been shaken badly by the Brexit vote. Deep in their hearts, nobody in the EU really thought the Brits would go through with it. Like a husband coming home to his wife greeting him at the door with “I want a divorce,” it’s no longer a threat, but now it’s a reality.

What does that reality mean? Aside from the markets reacting negatively as money managers reposition their assets and currency traders make their plays, the short-term effects are basically nil. The markets will recover and capital will position itself accordingly.

David Cameron will leave as PM and likely Boris Johnson will replace him. The celebrations (and horror from some) will die down. Then the nasty business of disentangling the U.K.’s economy, laws, labor, and politics from the EU will begin.

It will be a slow, arduous process, with minutiae of negotiating points on every possible issue. It will take years (there’s a technical two-year deadline in Article 50, but no real timeline, and negotiations could extend far beyond two years).

Triggering Article 50, formally notifying the intension to withdraw, starts a two-year clock running. After that, the Treaties that govern membership no longer apply to Britain. The terms of exit will be negotiated between Britain’s 27 counterparts, and each will have a veto over the conditions.

It will also be subject to ratification in national parliaments, meaning, for example, that Belgian MPs could stymie the entire process.

Over those 24 months, companies will react faster than governments–as my London-based college friend told me. Companies with business in the EU who maintain offices in England will trim staffs and move to continental-based operations. That means U.K. employees will lose jobs. Brits working on the continent will see their opportunities for advancement start to dry up.

There will be a period of wailing and gnashing of teeth as the reality of divorce sinks in. Divorce sucks, for anyone who’s ever been through one.

But this was a political choice, not an economically rational one. The U.K., in the long run, should be better off divorced from continental politics. The island nation has never really fit in with the polyglot culture across the channel. There’s more Indian culture in England than French or Flemish or Walloon. Britain had her empire, and those Commonwealth ties are stronger than the legal continental strings that Brits just voted to break.

It’s going to be tough for a while, but if Johnson and the other Conservatives who favored leaving the EU do the right thing and open up innovation, capital will flow in. There’s no shortage of smart people in England, and the stiff-upper-lip culture has much to be proud of. The boogeyman of xenophobia will not manifest itself as the fear-mongers in the Remain camp pitched, because Brits are very aware of their place in the world (much more so than Americans).

The big unanswered question is: Will continental EU now finish their move toward a completely socialist, integrated polity, or will Germany be the next country to chafe at its outsized responsibility of playing Atlas? The next immigration crisis may move that to the front of the line faster than the pin-striped lawyers in London and Brussels can dot their i’s and cross their t’s.