Nos félicitations, Macron

by Robert Reich

Emmanuel Macron is the next president of France, defeating his far right rival Marine Le Pen by a comfortable 65.1% to 34.9% (according to a usually reliable vote estimate by pollsters Ispos/Sopra Steria for French state TV and radio and Le Monde). At 39, Macron will become France’s youngest president. He has never held elected office, and just over a year ago his political movement En Marche! did not even exist.

Still, the fact that racist nationalist Le Pen could summon more than a third of the French vote is cause for worry about the future. Xenophobia toward Muslims has played a part. More responsible are widening inequality and mounting job insecurity – coupled with a growing sense that the political-economy is rigged in favor or the privileged and out of touch with average working people.

The French haven’t suffered the same degree of economic stresses as have Americans in recent decades – France’s social safety net is still relatively intact – which may explain why they didn’t elect Le Pen while we elected Trump. But France, like most modern political economic systems, is heading in America’s direction under the guise of business “flexibility” and austerity economics.

My humble advice to Macron: Don’t follow America.

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Robert Reich
Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "Common Good." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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