Random Thoughts on the Sarko Win

Sarkozy has taken the French presidency and France has dodged a bullet. Not that many in France won't do everything they can to reload, but there is at least a chance that France will finally get some amount of much needed governmental and societal reform.

Sunday's election was the finale to one of the most entertaining electoral events in recent history. Of course nothing compares to America's presidential election of 2000. But beyond that, there hasn't been a more important or exciting political event in recent memory. Now that it is over, here are some random thoughts.

First, for American audiences, France 24 brought the French political process to us directly. France 24 was formed to be the "French CNN" and I believe they have accomplished that goal. Congratulations to them.

Next, Sarko did several things that the Republican candidates should note. Most importantly, he ran on ideas. He wasn't scared to take a stand and not budge. He didn't respond to the ever hostile press by trying to finesse his positions. He spoke and acted as if he believed what he was saying. He had passion and he had purpose. And the people loved it. Straight from the Reagan play book.

On the other hand, Segolene Royal had the unenviable position that many on the left find themselves. Like John Kerry in 2004, she had to cobble together a host of disparate, left leaning interest groups, and attempted to do so by finessing and fudging on the issues. It didn't work against a rock solid Sarko. As I have noted frequently, the leftward oriented parties in Europe and North America will continue to face defeat until they reposition some of the core principles to broaden their appeal to larger middle class populations.

Interestingly, Sarko ran against his own party. He did everything possible to distance himself from the Jacques Chirac - possibly the most unpopular politician in the western world (who is now free to be prosecuted for a variety of crimes). Sarkozy ran in the American tradition of a "Washington outsider". Mitt Romney is trying to do this in America today. He could do worse than to look to Sarko as a model.

The French electorate turned out in droves. Estimates are that 85% of voters showed up at the polls. Contrary to what is often seen in the press, high turnout reflects an unsettled population. In new third world democracies, turnout is often close to 100%. In old, rich and stable democracies like the United States, turnout can run below 50%. France is obviously in a troubled state, and has offered Sarkozy a clear mandate for change.

Women voted for the candidates in very similar proportions as men. There was no "gender gap". Women did not vote for Royal simply because of like chromosomes. This outcome is being spun in the United States as evidence that French women are not sophisticated enough to appreciate the patriarchal aspects of French culture. Having spent a lot of time with French women, I would be more apt to say that women are more sophisticated than American women when it comes to understanding gender roles, and are less likely to be duped by cheap pitches based on gender stereotypes. We in America would be so lucky to have French women considering whether Hillary is qualified to run this country.

Also here in the States, where it's all about us all the time, the press continues to say that a Sarko victory is good for French - American relations. First, relations between the two country's are reasonably good already, where it matters. Second, the first thing that Sarkozy is going to give up when the unions and leftists come down on him will be his relationship with the United States. Like all European politicians, he knows he can afford to play the anti-American card because he knows when push comes to shove, the American's are always there. Don't look for a Sarko-Bush lovefest. Won't happen.

Finally, there are lessons for the Republican Party in this election. The most important are that ideas matter, strong leadership matters, and passion matters. As anyone who reads this blog knows, I am a Romney guy. But my biggest concern about his candidacy is that it lacks passion. When asked why he is running Mitt sounds like a governor, not a president. Romney would do well to go to school on Sarko. It's not about "families", or "keeping us safe", or "jobs". It's about La Patrie.



10:14 PM

It's about time. We'd given up on you...