I can not fully express how happy I am the French presidential election is over. That isn’t to say I’m pleased or unhappy with the outcome; I could care less which socialist was elected to be the new captain of a still-sinking ship. What I’m happy about is I won’t have to hear or read any more libertarians blithering on about and praising either Marine Le Pen or Emmanuel Macron.
If Macron winning causes some libertarians to think cooler French heads have prevailed, then I have a bridge to Galt’s Gulch to sell them. Macron is typically described as a “moderate” and “centrist,” yet he will supposedly preserve the status quo, meaning maintain the policies of lame duck President François Hollande, a socialist whose approval ratings rival those of George W. Bush’s outgoing numbers. Yet, minutes after he won, plenty of libertarians were commenting that France has somehow been saved from Le Pen’s jackboots.
Many libertarians championed Le Pen despite her promise to close borders and withdraw from global markets; distrust of commodities speculation; advocacy of expanding entitlements for native French citizens; opposition to freedom of religion for Muslims who don’t shoot up cafes and nightclubs. A friend of freedom Le Pen ain’t, but, hey, at least she wants to leave the EU!
My fellow libertarians who have been so inexplicably invested in the French election: what makes Le Pen offensive and Macron acceptable, and vice versa? They are both socialistic statists, and seem to differ only in their proposed responses to Islamic terrorism, which are about as opposite as can be. Le Pen wants to keep out Muslims who try to emigrate to France, while bestowing upon existing French Muslims second-class status; Macron, following the latest terror attack there, rhetorically threw up his hands, and said, “This imponderable threat, this threat, will be a fact of daily life in the coming years.” How are either Macron or Le Pen acceptable executors of the proper roles of government, which is to protect life, liberty and property? Libertarians by and large decry voting for the lesser of two evils, yet they shelved this for the French election.
Another reason I’m happy the French election is over is that the MSM and liberals can focus on something other than the “far right” Le Pen. They are still literally shaking from the election of a supposed xenophobe to the White House that they now need to obsess over “far right” politicians in other countries to virtue-signal they are not racists. “See, see?!?!? They’re all like that!!!” they huff under their shrines to Ted Kennedy, President Obama, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi, who are all more responsible for initiating and maintaining legal immigration quotas and bureaucracy than they are advancing freedom of movement.
The run up to the election has been one collective social media circle jerk of an anti-tautological argument that got me so angry I almost went full Sylvia Plath; since everything else about Le Pen indicates left-wing positions, when friends on Facebook describe Le Pen as “far right,” I ask them to name one country run by a “far left” government that has open borders. So far, no one has replied to my query.
If the French election has taught us anything, it’s that the left/right paradigm is obsolete. It no longer lends itself to accurate descriptions of political ideologies that way it used to, and applying the American context and understanding of the formulation to European politics is similar to how you need an adapter for power outlets when you travel there (sorry not sorry for what may or may not be a mixed metaphor).
Words usually evolve slowly, but the meanings of certain words commonly employed in political vernacular morph relatively rapidly. To further complicate things, different regions that share a common language can have different meanings for the same word. “Conservative” and “liberal” mean different things around the world, and even among Western democracies and republics. Hell, capitalization can affect definition: “Democrat,” “Republican,” and “Libertarian” don’t mean “democrat,” “republican,” and “libertarian,” respectively, just as “Democrat” and “Republican” are not always synonymous with “liberal/progressive” and “conservative.”
(That these terms are easily confused by individuals with pedestrian knowledge of political ideologies should be especially obvious to we libertarians since we have an unhealthy obsession with fact-checking those on the left and right, and nitpicking what libertarianism is. Many libertarians engage in this ironic exercise of patting themselves on the back for being so principled and consistent, yet indulge this urge to tell anyone who listens what makes them so libertarian. I swear to Thoreau, libertarians are as self-absorbed and needy as vegans [I hope I never meet a libertarian vegan, I don’t want to endure seven hours of what makes that sad, sorry son of a bitch so unique]. If you want to prove you are some ideological stalwart and/or hold the moral high ground, stop constantly refining your positions; it makes you seem unsure of yourself.)
UNITED AIRLINES WATCH 2017 UPDATE:
I’m going to take you back to the subject of French morons to close out this column. The flying PR nightmare that is United Airlines is in the news yet again when a frog named Lucie Bahetoukilae flew to San Francisco instead of France:
According to Bahetoukilae, who speaks only French and allowed her niece to speak on her behalf, the airline changed the flight’s gate at the last minute, and failed to notify the passengers via email. Furthermore, Bahetoukilae claims the airline did not announce the gate change in French, despite the original flight being bound for Paris…
Bahetoukilae, not knowing any better, gave her ticket to the gate agent, who then scanned it and allowed Bahetoukilae to board.
Upon arriving at her row, however, Bahetoukilae found another passenger seated in her spot. Confused, she showed her ticket to a flight attendant, who, instead of noticing the airline’s error, simply sat Bahetoukilae in an empty seat.
Bahetoukilae then embarked on a 7.5-hour flight in the wrong direction. When she arrived in San Francisco, Bahetoukilae then endured an 11-hour layover as United tried to place her on another flight to France. In total, she spent more than 28 hours trying to reach her initial destination.
That she was neither beaten or left to die in a cargo hold counts as stellar customer service by United’s standards.
Look, all seriousness aside, some of the blame for this belongs to Bahetoukilae. She should have known she was on a flight to Frisco instead of Paris when all her fellow female travelers were wearing paisley dresses instead of burkas.
Of course, United has to shoulder most of this responsibility since their employees, through their neglect, allowed Bahetoukilae to board and remain on the flight. But it’s very easy to blame airlines since they are corporations (boo, hiss!) that sell their customers a hassle-laden product and lose sight of the fact that so much of what they do is governed by federal agencies like the FAA and TSA. Would removing government oversight fix every problem with the airline industry? Of course not. But loosening up some of the regulatory strangleholds would help loosen up some of the chokeholds airlines pass on to their passengers.
And that’s the way it is, as far as you know.