Flagged down on his way to the polls in a ritzy part of Paris, a French voter in the presidential showdown had this to say about his support of Emmanuel Macron: “He’s for globalization, for the EU. I’m a citizen of the world, so he gets my vote.”
That offhand remark was a sign of how politics is changing throughout the West. Whether French socialism or British labor, the pro-worker center-left is collapsing in Europe. It was wiped out in the recent Dutch election. The reason is simple: The driving political questions of our time turn on an increasingly stark contrast between nationalism and globalism.
The fact that Marine Le Pen lost does not change that trajectory. The response of the Frenchman on his way to cast his vote distills the political meaning of the election. It featured the leader of a longtime and once-marginal nationalist party against a political chameleon who presented himself as an earnest technocrat. Macron claimed he could fix France and make it flourish in the global system. Or at least do enough to keep the one-world dream alive.
There are similar symptoms of fundamental political change in the United States. Donald Trump’s liabilities were extraordinary, and they should have been fatal. Yet he won the Republican nomination handily. Then he defeated the Clinton machine. All of this happened because our political establishments, left and right, have become decadent.
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