“'Vote for the crook, not the fascist!' So urged the French newspaper Libération on the morning of April 23, 2002. The paper's editors had woken up to a reality that few thought possible. Following the first round of the presidential election, the incumbent president, Jacques Chirac -- long suspected of campaign finance shenanigans -- would meet Jean-Marie Le Pen -- the foul-mouthed leader of the anti-Semitic and authoritarian National Front -- in the second and decisive round of voting two weeks later.”
"The history of the Front National thus points to the real danger the American system now faces. If Trump does face Clinton in the November election, and is decisively defeated, it will spell the end of his political career. Like his French twin, he will go raging into the night...But should his movement find a leader with talents that go beyond his gift of bullying and bluster, it may well have the same seismic effect on our political landscape as Marie Le Pen's FN has had in France: the establishment of an enduring third party with goals antithetical to America's core values.”
What can history teach us? What is the value of studying other nations’ political parties to shed light on our own when they become warped? When we find ourselves looking at our electoral field seeing no good options, what should our goals be for future party reform?
University of Houston History Professor Robert Zaretsky draws a fascinating comparison between the rise of France’s Front-National Party in 2002 to the rise of Mr. Trump. Worth a read, this article is a cautionary tale about not repeating history.
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“America in the Shadow of France, 2002”
by Robert Zaretsky, History Professor, University of Houston Honors College
Real Clear World l March 7, 2016