Wed May 9th, 2007 at 06:57:02 PM EST
After Dubya won by a larger margin in 2004, the late and great Molly Ivins quoted a man who said, "Don't worry now, the worse is yet to come." (Luckily, Ivins lived to see us take back America in '06) So it's time to look at the brighter side of the French elections- as well as some of the darker moments, Andy Rooney-style.
The media (I'm not citing editorials), the English speaking ones, at least, were pretty much pro-Sarko, and I don't mean to be bitter. They cite outrageous concerns about Sego, such as she talks much but accomplishes little (So helping cheesemakers in her province and improving the environment doesn't count?) and consistently cite her inexperience, having only listed family and environment minister for her background (frequently leaving out presidency of the Poitou-Charentes region and parliament seat). The top news stories left about her cite the "likely" split-up of the Socialist party, party criticism of her (is it really that serious?), and her failure to gain the woman vote (48% voted for her, however, 64% of women 60 and older voted Sarko). The wikipedia article spend more time on a brother who helped blow up the Rainbow Warrior than her accomplishments as president of Poitou-Charentes region (more specifically, none).
On the positive side, there's still a parliamentary election coming up to block the Sarko agenda, as well as an ample amount of lessons about the campaign. For one, don't appear desperate and eager to provoke fear for people to vote for you days before the election. Now, mind you, her riots statements, and the media headlines, makes it appear like something Dick Cheney or Rudy Gullianni would say, but first you have to understand Royal. She's honest, and she's blunt, she believes, and there's likely, to be riots if there's a Sarko victory- she felt that saying it outright was something that could be advantageous to her. A Cheney or Rudy or Boehner type of statement on terrorist attacks if a Democrat is elected in dishonest on their part, truly a desperate attempt to get votes, and simply not credible (how Republicans can claim to be the security party after ignoring 9-11 warnings and lessons and creating a unnecessary war that introduced terrorism in a country is beyond me). But I think we can all agree that it would have been better if Sego promised to make Bayrou PM if elected instead of talking about riots that day when she was at the radio station.
Furthermore, I feel that her campaign, though maverick at times (who could forget the wishes for the future site?), could use some changes. The "La Presidente" slogan isn't as nice as the "Ensemble" one. I propose, and Socialists have every right to take it, the Tim Kaine-esque motto, "Moving France Forward" instead.
Also, the ghettos and minority neighborhoods are moving at a snail's pace in voter registration. I read in the Christian Science Monitor that in one minority region, turnout was 40%- and that was a significant jump from the previous election. Barack Obama spent his adult years as a community organizer in Chicago, registering people to vote so they could move themselves out of their economic situation and have a voice in government. (In one situation, the community was complaining about a nearby landfill that was polluting the water and the kids. Unfortunately, because they didn't provide much political liablility, they were ignored in talks about the landfill's fate) I mean, look at the Christian evangelicals in the US and how that makes politicians act strange. (In the GOP presidential debate of 10 people, 3 raised their hands when asked if they didn't believe in evolution) Look, if the Socialists want more votes, they need massive volunteers in the ghettos, registering people to vote.
By the way, I would like to thank Eurotrib for providing more background on this interesting French election. As a populist, I hoped, but did not expect, a Sego victory, and I believe she did better than any other Socialist candidate could against Sarko. (Can you imagine the numbers of a Hollande-Sarko fight? Probably 42-58) I mean, why did so many of us pay attention to this election? Yes, French people want change and yes Sarko is interesting, kind of, but quite frankly, Royal excites us and provides a figure of someone who stands for progressive ideals and people-powered politics. Her speeches went a little downhill days before the election, but that didn't mean she lost sight of her populist goals. From her victory speech in the first round ("...who do not want a France dominated by the law of the fittest of the most brutal, and locked down by the power of money and the power concentrated in a few hands that are always the same") to the days when over 50% of decided voters supported her for president ("With me, never again will politics take place without you"), she give me little doubt she will stop fighting for these ideals. After all, she is the president...of Poitou-Charentes.