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Senior Contributor

Opinion from New Yorker

I won't add anything the author says it well


But, hockey aside, I’ve also, as a sometime resident of France, been through this before. It was no surprise last week when Jean-Marie Le Pen, the former leader of France’s far-right National Front, endorsed Donald Trump. (“If I were an American, I would vote Donald Trump,” Le Pen tweeted.) The shared identity of the two political movements was merely being affirmed: extreme right-wing authoritarians whose core ideology is racist and anti-immigrant, coalescing around anti-Muslim rage (in Le Pen’s case, with the previous addition of anti-Semitism), and both strongly “corporatist,” i.e., not at all liberal but also not at all unfriendly to government welfare programs. It looks like the classic fascist double whammy, in plain English.





And then, on the other side, a not entirely irrational argument can be made that Trump is, in his own wild way, a Republican moderate—everyone has been asking for a revival of “Rockefeller” Republicanism, and perhaps this is what liberal Republicanism looks like now. This is what Rockefeller looks like now. It’s the same mix of paternalism, confusion, social welfare, and capitalist condescension. Nelson Rockefeller had a more plausible style and a better art collection—Picassos instead of gilded junk—but it was the same kind, although—an important caveat—Trump’s racial views seem to fit more with the pre-civil-rights-era America of Rockefeller’s youth than with our own time. Against this is the truth that politics is not only about positions; it is also a series of practices. Contempt for the norms and practices of constitutional government undermines the accidents of shared positions. Trump may be marginally saner on Planned Parenthood and health care than many of his fellow-candidates. But marginal sanity is not a platform.

The French Socialists were willing to hold their nose and vote for Chirac. If the Republican conservatives are serious, rather than merely self-serving, you’ll know it by their defections. You will know it if, as may well happen, sometime in October, the Bush clan tacitly or openly endorses Hillary. Sometimes, as the French left learned, the people you can’t stand are better than the people you can’t live with. The French left, by the way, voted with clothespins in their pockets—they were not allowed to take them into the voting booth, since it showed all too clearly, and unconstitutionally, just where they stood. This time, please, clothespins openly and all around.