French elections highlight flaws in U.S. election cycle



Emmanuel Macron beat out far-right candidate Marine Le Pen by a sizable margin.

Jack Wise, Opinion Editor

After the election of Donald Trump, I look at other elections around the world with a much higher regard. It’s widely believed that America’s actions have a global domino effect and there was some déjà-vu as Russia hacked one of the candidates à la Hillary Clinton, but this time around France proved to me that love for humanity and the global community is still real.

On May 7, centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right Marine Le Pen faced off in the French presidential election. There was a lot of speculation before the election that Le Pen would win, and that frightened me because she is anti-immigration and speaks of French culture being composed of old values, disregarding the different cultures that make up the mosaic of modern French culture. I checked the results nervously throughout the day and I had a moment of joy when it was announced Macron won the presidency with 66.1 percent of the vote to Le Pen’s 33.9 percent.

With deeper research, I found that Macron ran his campaign wonderfully – and I think American politicians should take note. Instead of outright denouncing Le Pen supporters, Macron talked directly with her supporters. According to The Guardian, workers were protesting against Macron during a visit to a factory and instead of ignoring them, he talked to them. In the end, they shook hands. Logically it can be concluded that denouncing supporters of the opposition yields no support from the opposed in the long run. Another thing that made his message so appealing to voters was he did not apologize for supporting globalization. Macron speaks to unity of the European Union as people waved blue and yellow-starred flags around him and that is inpsiring. He says so without a hint of doubt. For a politician, I find courage is like a magnet that brings people into political engagement.

Drawing parallels to the election in the United States last year, there are similarities but also drastic differences between the French and American election cycles. Fake news is a hot topic in both countries, but Macron went against the actuality of not reporting the facts, while Donald Trump blindly accused networks that were not running stories about him as “fake news.” Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen rest in the far-right of the political spectrum and when asked by Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes, Le Pen said she wanted to, “make France great again.” Hillary Clinton and Emmanuel Macron are liberal centrists yet the electoral college prohibited Clinton from assuming office even though she had two million more votes. France only utilizes a system based off of the popular vote.

There are many things America could take away from France’s political playbook. The turnout was the lowest since previous elections in France at 79 percent. CNN says that the U.S. had 55 percent of voters turning out for the 2016 election. By halting efforts of states disenfranchising minorities, the United States will have a more representative population involved in the voting process and with the electoral college scrapped once and for all, the people will truly elect future leaders that represent the country.

I would like to thank the French for calling on the U.S. to take another dose of liberté, égalité, et fraternité. In order to progress as a nation, the country must accommodate the diverse peoples of the United States, with liberty and justice for all.