I don’t write about politics often. I stopped being interested by local politics after I dropped out from my politic sciences school back in 2001, with 2 exceptions. The first one was Barack Obama first election, because a black man being elected president of a country having a long story of institutionalised racism was a thing, and this year campaign, because Donald Trump being the Republican nominee rings a very unpleasant bell of deja vu.
If you’re into French politics, you might remember our 2002 presidential election. If you’re not, let me tell you a story.
French presidential election system differs from the American one by many points. To become a candidate, you have to be endorsed by at least 500 elected people, from small villages mayors to senators. That’s a direct election, so you vote for your favorite candidate. If they have more than 50% voices, they win, otherwise you vote a second time for the 2 winners of the first round.
In 2002, everyone was expecting a second round between moderate right President Chirac and his socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. Because in France, you can have a Prime Minister who’s a political opponent of the President. I know this sounds stupid but it happened a couple of times.
During the past 5 years, President Chirac had been a terrible president, but he was an outstanding born to win candidate. Jospin had been a despicable Prime Minister and a terrible candidate who did little if no campaign, being sure Chirac unpopularity would lead him to win without an effort.
Sunday April the 21st 2002, I was working in a lab at my computer engineering school, when I heard people shouting in the corridor. There was a TV set there, and I could see the devastated face of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin learning he didn’t make to the second round. I couldn’t refrain myself from smiling before I understood it meant President Chirac’s opponent would be Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Jean-Marie Le Pen is a right wing, racist, revisionist, populist French politician. He’s well known for saying that gas chamber were “a detail in WWII History”, in other things. And he was one step from being the next French President.
2 weeks later, Chirac was reelected with 82.2% of the votes. But it was too late.
Chirac didn’t win because he was the best candidate but to ensure Le Pen would lose. It was not about Chirac’s victory, but Le Pen defeat. And by reaching the second round for the first time in 36 years, Le Pen had already won.
From a French point of view, there are lots of similarities between our presidential election and that Clinton VS Trump campaign.
I’ve been reading a lot that Trump being elected President would be a shame for America. That’s wrong.
As Le Pen reaching the second round was a day shame for France, the USA have already known their day of shame by nominating Trump as the Republican candidate.
In 2008, the American presidential election was about knowing whether or not America would elect their first black president, and they did. I remember how happy I was. I woke up at 5AM, logged into Seesmic and recorded a video message to tell my American friends how happy I was for them. Whatever happened during Barack Obama double mandates, Tuesday November the 4th made History.
8 years later, America is about to elect their first woman as a President. 2016 November the 8th should be another historical day, but that’s not what History will remember.
History won’t remember this day as the day a woman became President, but as the day people had to vote for or against Donald Trump. From that point of view, the attention, celebrity whore candidate has already won.