Elections

Ideological Tug-of-War

May 12, 2017

For Le Pen to have won and to govern in a similar vein to Trump—that is, high on rhetoric, low on achievement—would sound the death knell of nationalist ideas. Correlation is not always causation, but the general public doesn’t think systematically about political economy. Too often, the average voter falls for the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

If Trump continues on his present course of making nice with the American neoliberal consensus, all his failures will be attributed to the tenets of national populism. That’s just the nature of politics.

To lose without trying is the worst kind of fate for a political philosophy. “The problem for the establishmentarians is that they’re privately as exhausted by the world that made them winners as everyone else is,” columnist Michael Brendan Dougherty writes. This makes our present epoch ripe for change, if only led by the right person.

For the time being, Marine Le Pen is not that person. Donald Trump is too busy fending off the enemy within to help those without. The Brexit initiative faces many hurdles before it goes from a de jure process to a de facto reality.

Perhaps the populists played their hand too soon. Politics excites negative spirits to win. But statecraft, in order to work, must be resolute enough to beat the opposition with something more than heart. Head is needed too.

The floundering of the nationalist reemergence should have pitchfork-warriors asking, like Black Francis sang, “Where is my mind?

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