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THE LATEST: Report from France

Jeff Hall

Posted on May 18, 2017 09:01

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What we can learn from our oldest ally.

My wife insisted it was time, after many years, to take a trip to France.

"France?" I asked.  "Why France?"

I was thinking more along the lines of a warm beach -- Hawaii, perhaps.

I remember traveling to France during my college days, the place seemed very unfriendly at the time.  This was 1973, the Vietnam war was raging, Americans weren't very popular in those days. 

Maybe it was our long hair, beards and other scruffy ways.  But our little traveling group definitely felt like we were on the receiving end of a lot of cold-shoulder treatment.

My, how things have changed! 

We just got back from two weeks in France and I'm delighted to report we had a phenomenally good time, the French could not have been more friendly -- and I see many signs of hope there.

We were there when the election results came in.  Centrist Emmanuel Macron had just won.  It seemed very clear that most French felt very relieved that Marine Le Pen didn't win. 

The French people we bumped into very uniformly did NOT want to see a French version of Brexit or Donald Trump play out.

Interestingly, one Frenchman we spoke to said that BECAUSE Brexit and Donald Trump had just occurred, voters were ready to embrace a centrist, Macron.  They did not want their version of Donald Trump.

This individual said had Brexit and Donald Trump NOT happened, that would have made a Le Pen victory MORE likely.  But because Trump DID happen, France got scared.

People are mad in France, too, and the country sees the same urban/rural split we see.

As French people woke up to the newly-changed political landscape, we detected more and more glimmers of hope, unfolding on a daily basis: Macron is young, he's a centrist, he has business experience, he started his own party -- a poke in the eye of what everyone seems to agree is a very tired establishment.

And now Macron is going out of his way to pick cabinet members from left, right and center.  Half his cabinet is female.  I find this is a very hopeful beginning. 

Some told us they are looking at Macron the same way many in America viewed Obama when he was first elected (remember "hope and change"?). 

People in France seem happier and healthier than Americans.  People are thinner, they eat better, they enjoy their cafe society.  People laugh and talk.  They aren't in as big a rush, they can put work down at the end of the day.  Public transportation is phenomenal. 

The French smoke more than we do; that was maybe the only negative I perceived.

There is much we can learn from the French.  Any smugness we have regarding our alleged superiority feels very outdated -- just like my thinking that France was unfriendly toward Americans. 

Maybe it's time to start thinking ahead: Who will be OUR Macron?

 

Jeff Hall

Posted on May 18, 2017 09:01

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French President Macron talks to Putin, faces media uproar Associated Press - 18 May 2017 16:22-04:00 Copyright...

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