Rachel Marsden

It's precisely this attempt to marginalize people who don't adhere to the increasingly prevalent culturally Marxist views that drives them to seek out and support democratic entities (like Le Pen's National Front party) that accord them a proper public voice. That's how it's done in civil societies. Where's the alarmism in that? If dialogue around these issues is quashed or marginalized, the parties championing these concerns will serve as pressure valves and grow in popularity. This partly explains the National Front's record electoral figure -- but it's not the whole story.

It would be a mistake to think that the "far right" in France stands for limited government and a free market. The National Front rails against decentralization, advocates a strong federal government, and complains that European legislation forces competitive trade and prevents the French government from financially assisting companies, thereby inhibiting "economic patriotism."

Sounds more like Russia than the Tea Party, doesn't it? Under the National Front's political tent, one finds a political buffet consisting of far more than just a righteous battle against cultural Marxism and population replacement. There's something for nationalists, socialists, protectionists and anti-elitists -- everything but a significant helping of free market and limited government.

When Le Pen denounces Sarkozy's "ultra-liberalism," she isn't talking about leftism. In Europe, "liberalism" isn't synonymous with "leftism" as it is in America. Rather, it refers to the kind of classical liberalism prevalent in 19th century America and incarnated by the likes of right-libertarian heroes Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek. As a free-market, limited-government conservative who once served as a Republican think-tank director, I'm typically considered a "liberal" in France.

So, how many people within Le Pen's party adhere to politics similar enough to mine that they'll vote for Sarkozy in the final round? Based on various analyses, I'd wager no more than about half, with the rest supporting the Socialist. One might even argue that because former Trotskyite Jean Luc Mélenchon did worse than expected and the Socialist scored precisely as expected, Le Pen's "far right" party scooped up some nanny-state Communists in the first round. (Try reading that last sentence again without your brain exploding.)

Blaise Pascal once said, in adapting a famous Montesquieu quote, "Truth on one side of the Pyrenees is error on the other." It's a fitting adage as Americans try to make sense of the politics at play behind this dramatic French electoral spectacle.

Rachel Marsden

Rachel Marsden is a columnist with Human Events Magazine, and Editor-In-Chief of GrandCentralPolitical News Syndicate.
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