Le Front National is Not Like the Republican Party

Back when I used to participate on left-wing sites more than I do today, I used to worry about tone trolling. I was tempted to do a lot of that. Let’s say that I appreciate calling a spade a spade rather than, oh, let’s say, Hitler. When to bother people about excesses in their rhetoric and when to let it slide was always a problem for me. Like many of the people who get accused of tone trolling, I was always worried about the boy who cried wolf. I do worry, and it’s a genuine worry, I don’t mean to troll, that if you insist on calling everyone who disagrees with you a racist then when you are actually confronted by real racism you will have a problem communicating that.

Democrats love to call Republicans racist. However, if we look at the historical origins of the Republican Party, we can see that racism is not integral at all. Republicans often call themselves “the party of Lincoln.” The corresponding phrase for the Democrats used to be “the party of Jefferson.”

The first statewide convention that formed a platform and nominated candidates under the name “Republican” was held near Jackson, Michigan on July 6, 1854. It declared their new party opposed to the expansion of slavery into new territories and selected a statewide slate of candidates.

 

The new party went well beyond the issue of slavery in the territories. It envisioned modernizing the United States—emphasizing giving free western land to farmers (“free soil”) as opposed to letting slave owners buy up the best lands, expanded banking, more railroads, and factories. They vigorously argued that free market labor was superior to slavery and the very foundation of civic virtue and true republicanism—this was the “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men” ideology. (Source: Wikipedia)

Now, that was 150 years ago and one can argue how much of that remains in the Republican Party, but it must be said that there is nothing innately racist about the Republican Party.

The Front National, on the other hand, united several far right political movements in France during the 1970s.

In order to create a broad movement, the ON sought to model the new party (as it earlier had sought to model itself) on the more established Italian Social Movement (MSI), which at the time appeared to establish a broad coalition for the Italian right. (Source: Wikipedia)

The Italian Social Movement was a neo-fascist movement – I don’t mean that in an “everyone who disagrees with me is a fascist sort of way.

In 1946 a group of Fascist soldiers founded the Italian Social Movement to continue the idea of Benito Mussolini. (Source: Wikipedia)

Unsurprisingly, the party has been dogged by accusations of racism, xenophobia and, above all, antisemitism since its inception.

In 2011, longtime party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, stepped down and his daughter became the head of the party. His daughter has tried to make the party more mainstream and has tried to reduce the antisemitism. However, many people doubt whether or not she has been successful in that.

In recent weeks, I’ve seen conservatives in the U.S. express support for Le Pen. I can’t help wondering if the constant accusations of racism have led them to ignore them.

Of course, I blame the establishment parties for the rise of Le Pen. They seem to lack the will to face current problems.

I should have made predictions regarding Trump and Brexit. So, here is my predictions regarding the French elections. I think Le Pen will do well and has a high chance of making it into the run-off election. However, I think there is no way she can win a runoff. Both the left and the center right will vote against her. Really, now that I think about it, it’s a shame a doorknob isn’t running because a doorknob might be a better choice than any of the candidates.

This morning’s Telegraph says, “the world will be watching to see just how far the “populist wave” has travelled.” However I wouldn’t take a Le Pen loss as indication that the populist wave has slowed. The accusations of racism among members of the Front National are far more credible than similar accusations leveled at rank and file Republicans. The slogan “France for the French” has long been associated with the Front National.

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2 comments
  1. Ingersoll was a Republican and if you read what the party stood for in his time, one wonders what changed between then and now

    • fojap said:

      Most of your visitors from the U.S. tend to lean Democratic, so do consider that they are not completely unbiased.

      The big change took place with the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

      The percentage of House Democrats who supported the legislation? 61 percent. House Republicans? 80 percent. In the Senate, 69 percent of Democrats voted yes, compared with 82 percent of Republicans.

      However, the president, Lyndon B. Johnson, was a Democrat and supported it. The Republican candidate in the 1964 election, Barry Goldwater, as against it. Goldwater, it is important to note, had long been a supporter of the NAACP and had supported civil rights in the past. He was against the legislation due to his belief in small government, not because he was racist. But the fact that the head of the Democratic Party supported it and the person who became the head of the Republican Party opposed it realigned the parties on that subject. People who wanted to maintain segregation in the south deserted the Democratic Party.

      Then came Nixon’s “Southern Strategy.” I’ve heard some people argue that this didn’t really exist. But it refers to Republicans trying to appeal to racists in the south. It’s hard to discuss it in detail without getting into more detail about U.S. politics than you’d probably find interesting. (Nixon became president in 1968.) Supposedly Reagan built on this strategy.

      The upshot is that both parties have a fairly checkered history on the subject.

      Other things were going on at the same time that need to be considered. A very big, unrelated, change was the entry of Evangelical Christians into politics when they had previously been apolitical. They tended to support the Republican Party more than the Democratic Party (although that was not as inevitable as it now seems). That changed the nature of the Republican Party greatly. Probably more than the race issue did.

      Also, starting in the 50s you had the rise of “movement conservatism” with people like William H. Buckley. That’s a whole long thing in and of itself. Buckley tried to keep the extreme right out of the conservative movement.

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