The America Expat community in Paris has a foot in both worlds and is forever caught in the politics on both sides. Every conversation among friends ends up in a discussion (not a debate — as we seem to mostly agree on most issues) about 1) the upcoming U.S. elections and 2) the current socialist administration in France. Both are frightening and can spark highly emotional conversations.
The upcoming U.S. elections have everyone buzzing, not just the Americans. Donald Trump’s face is plastered on magazines all over Europe. France24.com quoted an article in the journal “Libération”: “Could this lunatic make it to the White House?,” lashing out at him, “calling him a compulsive racist, a misogynist and an egotist.” Europeans love to hate the “loud-mouthed billionaire businessman.” They are fixated on what they also call “The American Nightmare.”
Sure, Europe has it’s fair share of outrageous nut cases in politics such as Silvio Berlusconi (Italy) and Jean-Marie Le Pen (France), but Trump trumps them all. They see him as the epitome of everything they dislike about America and capitalism: excessiveness, vulgarity, ignorance, superficiality, lack of culture, worshiper of money, etc., etc., etc.
The articles in the press are scandalous, some claiming that if he had made his horrendous remarks in France, he would have been faced with prosecution for making public insults and inciting racial hatred. It started long ago, but most noteworthy were his Tweets following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in January: “If the people so violently shot down in Paris had guns, at least they would have had a fighting chance.”
They are calling it “Trumpism” — a brand of “politics-as-entertainment” and fear this could happen to them. This is not good from the perspective of the American Expats who are as angry and embarrassed by the current French socialist government as they are of Donald Trump.
Every time the U.S. behaves as badly and as far right-thinking as Trump, the French go even further left. Further left is as bad as further right. What we end up with are even more socialist policies that eat away at our capitalist cores and what we see as destructive to the French economy and a higher standard of living for all.
Americans, even those who live in France, tend to be entrepreneurial business owners, property owners and investors — who have been successful at their own will (without being the likes of a Trump), and who have also come to recognize the benefits of the socialist ideals…to a point. We like the balance of socialized programs such as health care for all, free higher education and retirement income while having the freedom to ‘work hard, earn more’ (a phrase coined by Sarkozy) — a kind of marriage of both capitalistic and socialist ideals.
Face it, we want our cake and eat it, too. We’re buzzing about the current socialist French government, and for Parisians, more specifically the City Hall of Paris, which has imposed new regulations that are intended to benefit the working class. In the process, these regulations are hurting the business and property owners and ultimately will hurt not only those for whom they were intended, but the city as well. (Don’t get me started on the short-term rental laws or the new rent control laws or the rights the city has given itself to purchase your property at lower than current value, etc., etc., etc.)
The socialist government can’t see this, but we can, because we see it with our capitalistic eyes. We know it will result in a poorer economy benefiting no one. We yearn for a balance that is a win-win for everyone, but we’re in a tug-o-war between gutsy Trumpism and “Monsieur Couille Molle” (a nickname for Hollande equivalent to “Mr. Marshmallow” — meaning having no guts).
Some Expats (and lots of French) are leaving France as a result of the far left tactics, but look at what we might be headed back toward…far right tactics that are even scarier. Could this lunatic REALLY make it to the White House? Help!
I suggest we start an American Expat utopia in some sweet spot of Europe (Provence or Tuscany would be nice) where we can adopt the ideals of both sides in a balance that is a win-win for everyone, without a lunatic or a marshmallow leading the pack. Do you think that’s possible in today’s world? Or are we so ignorant that we continue to elect other idiots to lead us?
We all know the answer. We’re trumped. C’est la vie!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group
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