Over the weekend liberal Emanuel Macron and nationalist Marine Le Pen finished in the top 2 spots in the French presidential runoff and with their victory went any hope that France might soon return to fiscal/political sanity.
It ain’t gonna happen.
Sadly, conservatives and liberty-minded folks seem to be getting caught up in the misconception that Marine Le Pen might be a continuation of the anti-establishment fervor that has been part of the world trend that has seen the election of Donald Trump, the passage of Brexit, the near victories of nationalists in the Netherlands and Austria, and the shift against the powers-that-be in Germany. And that is partially true, as Le Pen’s name has been uttered in the same breaths as Farage, Trump, and Wilders… but there is a very real sense in which this is simply a mirage.
Before I explain why, let me touch on Emanuel Macron. Establishment types are cheering Macron’s victory and the American media has labeled him a “centrist” which is only true when comparing him to the other French candidates. While Macron wants to cut government spending, he is taking over for a socialist government that forced a 75% income tax on its wealthiest citizens. There were two other candidates further to his left during the broader campaign, but neither Macron or Le Pen could ever really be considered a “centrist.” If they were campaigning here in the USA Macron would be a very liberal Democrat and Le Pen would be a very liberal Democrat who wanted to stop all immigration into the nation. Macron brings hope to the establishment because while he ran a campaign from outside of the major parties, he’s NOT an anti-establishment outsider. In fact, he was a minister in the government of Socialist President Francois Hollande and Macron promises to keep the system running as is with some slight tweaks he hopes will help the nation become fiscally solvent. (They won’t.)
Here in America, Macron’s liberal establishment credibility has made him anathema to conservatives. Meanwhile, Le Pen’s willingness to take on the “globalist” establishment and her vocal opposition to unchecked illegal immigration and the danger it poses to the West has made her the natural candidate of the right. The only problem with that math is that Le Pen is NO conservative. As I mentioned previously, if she were running her campaign here she’d be as far left as Bernie Sanders on everything besides the war on terror and immigration. The National Front (Le Pen’s Party) has long been a haven for socialists and big government nationalists, back in 2012 the American Enterprise Institute warned liberty loving Americans to be wary of Le Pen and the FN:
The FN advocated a reintroduction of the Franc, alongside capital controls to limit ‘speculation,’ and the nationalization of banks.
According to the same document, the party wants to prioritize the employment of French citizens in certain professions, as well mandate that the government use only domestic, French firms, in public procurement tenders. And, unlike the EU’s conservative critics in the Anglosphere, Ms. Le Pen is not worried primarily about market-distorting regulations or subsidies coming from an unaccountable bureaucratic body in Brussels. Her endgame is instead to restore France’s full sovereignty and empower the French government to pursue policies that are incompatible with the existence of open markets in Europe.
The FN’s website calls for the “strategic planning of re-industrialization,” under the auspices of the prime minister, using the insights of leading academics, representatives of business, and of the government, which is “to take place in parallel with the introduction of reasonable border protection against unfair international competition (targeted tariffs and quotas).” Other policy ideas include the regulation of banking fees, unspecific policies aiming to “establish an equilibrium between independent business and large supply chains,” and a ban on financial derivatives.
Moreover, the Foundation for Economic Education delivers a few more important reasons that conservatives should avoid Le Pen:
- Free Speech – Le Pen and her party have spoken in defense of their own free speech but argued that the free speech rights of others be constrained.
- Religious Liberty – Le Pen and her party have argued that all overtly religious symbols be banned from public life because they cause too much strife.
- Trade Policy – Le Pen and the FN are overtly protectionist when it comes to trade and their policies will only make life in France more difficult and less free. “Potential supporters need to recognize what protectionism actually entails: fewer choices, higher prices, fewer jobs, and toxic diplomatic relations.”
- Immigration – Le Pen and the FN are not just against illegal immigration, they seek to close down ALL immigration to their country.
- Entitlements, Spending, and Big Government – Le Pen and the FN have NO plans for government reform. “Marine Le Pen is no change from the big government system that has brought France to its knees over the past decades: she is part of it. The National Front is not planning on reforming entitlements or the overblown public sector. To the contrary, the party suggests lowering the retirement age to 60, forcing banks to lend money to small and medium-sized French enterprises, and employing more public sector workers while also increasing their wages.”
However, you slice it, this is not a pro-freedom series of policies. Marine Le Pen and the National Front stand for National Socialist policies, much like America’s favorite National Socialist Bernie Sanders.
While President Trump may have his warts, he has been a reliable friend of shrinking government, cutting spending, cutting regulations, and returning power to the people.
Marine Le Pen offers no such plans.
Her policies would lead to a bigger, stronger French government and a weaker citizenry. Conservatives and lovers of liberty should stand against such a platform at every turn, even if we happen to agree with her stance against globalism and unchecked illegal immigration. Make no mistake, Marine Le Pen is not our ally in the fight for smaller government and more personal freedom, she actually represents the worst of big government socialism because she cloaks herself in anti-globalist rhetoric.