The Long View 2007-05-08: Sarkozy; the Naughty Vicars; Immigration

Nicolas SarkozyBy European People's Party - EPP Summit October 2010, CC BY 2.0,

Nicolas Sarkozy

By European People's Party - EPP Summit October 2010, CC BY 2.0,

This is an interesting look back at the election of Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France at about the same time that Barack Obama had his first time as President of the United States.

Sarkozy; the Naughty Vicars; Immigration

Surely Amir Taheri goes too far in The New York Post, where he says: In France, Dubya Won Again.

ARE we going to vote for a French George Bush? So asked Marianne, a left-wing Parisian daily, in its cover story about the French presidential election. On Sunday, French voters answered: Yes, they wanted Nicolas Sarkozy, the candidate vilified by his enemies as "l'Americain" and "le copain [buddy] de George W. Bush."

Actually, in some ways Angela Merkel's election as German Chancellor was more like Bush's election in 2000: a squeaker that provided legal authority but no special popular mandate in a country that was evenly divided. What the Sarkozy victory on Sunday demonstrated is that there is no necessary electoral advantage to running against the United States:

At times, the left gave the impression that the election was more of a referendum on relations with America than on France's future. Socialist candidate Ségolène Royal attracted a string of anti-American figures from across Europe, starting with Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, who spoke of his dream of a Socialist axis between Paris and Madrid.

Well, at least they got to enjoy France in the spring.

In any case, the interesting question is whether this is going to turn out to be wishful thinking:

Sarkozy buried Chirac's harebrained quest for a multipolar global system and, instead, called for the major democracies to unite against forces that threaten their security and their way of life.

Come January 2009, maybe the most anti-American of the major Western governments will be in Washington.

* * *

"But what about Senator Clinton?" you ask. She seems to be an altogether more serious figure than Ségolène Royal was, so a comparison between the two may not be helpful. Nonetheless, we must note the range of constituencies that found Sarkozy's law-and-order platform attractive:

PARIS (AP) - Nicolas Sarkozy won the women's vote and fared well among blue-collar workers, even though his rival for the French presidency was a woman and a Socialist.

It was one of the surprising subplots in Sarkozy's resounding election victory over [Ségolène] Royal - and shows his vision of pro-market reforms and scaling back immigration appeals to a wide audience....Sarkozy even tallied nearly 44 percent of the vote in the Seine-Saint-Denis region north of Paris, where a wave of rioting erupted in late 2005 while he was interior minister and infuriated many there by calling troublemakers "scum."...Perhaps most striking was the 52 percent of the women's vote he captured against 48 percent for Royal, which indicated the campaign transcended gender issues and became truly a choice between ideas - the tough-love message of Sarkozy against Royal's more nurturing vision.

It has always been as big a mistake to forget that feminism is an ideology about women; it has never had much to do with what women want or believe. (In that, of course, it resembles the relationship of Marxism to industrial workers.) Senator Clinton seems to be aware of this. She may get her funding from feminist groups, but she long ago learned to present another face to the public. This could work in 2008.

Sadly, it does not seem likely that an American conservative could anytime soon run as the candidate of everyday order, which seems to be what Sarkozy did. The Republican Party, which kept the borders open all through the time it controlled Congress, and which has declined even to pretend to rein in the medical racket, has now become fixed in the public mind as the party of chaos.

* * *

Speaking of open borders, James Kerian has a piece on the First Things site on the strange mutation of the Catholic position on civil order in connection with immigration:

The position of our clergy is, as my local pastor has argued, that “the law is simply not practical.” ...[T]o disregard civil law in the name of defending fundamental human rights is an interesting change of position for an episcopate that has shown such respect for the rule of law in the past....Two rather implausible reasons have been offered to explain this position of the [United States Conference of Catholic Bishops]. Illegal immigrants are overwhelmingly Catholic; some people speculate that there will be some financial benefit to the Church from their continued presence. Alternatively, after the recent publicity over the denial of Communion to certain high profile pro-abortion liberals, some see the immigration issue as an opportunity for the Church to demonstrate its political neutrality.... It seems far more likely that after over three decades of succumbing to cultural pressure, our clergy are simply eager to show their courage in the face of the law on the first safe issue that has presented itself.

We could amuse ourselves for some time by considering how many kinds of mistake the Church in the United States is making on the immigration issue. Let's just consider this one point:

NEW YORK -- For a glimpse into the future of the Roman Catholic Church in America, peek inside St. Benedict's in Queens on a Sunday after the Matsons, Mays and Cassidys have all gone home and Joan Overton has shut down the pipe organ following the sparsely attended 8:30 a.m. Mass. That's when the pews fill up with the Durans, Lopezes and Fernandezes and the spiritual thermometer turns up a notch.

"Everyone on their feet!" cried Gladys Cardenas, a stout and fiery Puerto Rican, as a band struck up behind her. "Come on," she shouted in Spanish. "Get ready to celebrate God!"...American Catholic leaders say the church here has not made a conscious effort to promote charismatic practices. Rather, it has embraced them as a pragmatic response to the growing number of Hispanic Catholics. With one in five Hispanics having left the church over the past 25 years -- many of them to Pentecostal churches -- the newly energized movement could be a saving grace....The Catholic Church has traditionally used its clergy as the conduits of divine interpretation, but increasingly, charismatic Catholics are being energized by lay ministers in small prayer groups and are employing methods such as speaking in tongues as independent and direct spiritual channels.

Look, I have nothing against Pentecostals. I even found merit in the argument of The Next Christendom. Nonetheless, a charismatic ecclesiology is precisely what an episcopal ecclesiology is not. You can't have the two models in the same institution for a long time. If the Catholic Church really tries to go this route, it won't just lose the people; it will lose the buildings.

There is also this: if high immigration does stop, and consequently the situation of immigrants and their children improves across the board, the church where they will choose to worship in their newly elevated state will not be the one where people speak in tongues.

* * *

Immigrants don't particularly like the effects of high immigration either, as perhaps Sarkozy's strong showing in immigrant neighborhoods demonstrates. Mass immigration is an emergency. A society that has decided to have continuous mass immigration has decided to live in a state of perpetual emergency, which means that, increasingly, the only public services are going to be emergency services.

As for equality, or even a common citizenship, Michael Barone has this to say at Opinion Journal:

This is something few would have predicted 20 years ago. Americans are now moving out of, not into, coastal California and South Florida, and in very large numbers they're moving out of our largest metro areas. They're fleeing hip Boston and San Francisco, and after eight decades of moving to Washington they're moving out. The domestic outflow from these metro areas is 3.9 million people, 650,000 a year. High housing costs, high taxes, a distaste in some cases for the burgeoning immigrant populations--these are driving many Americans elsewhere.

The result is that these Coastal Megalopolises are increasingly a two-tiered society, with large affluent populations happily contemplating (at least until recently) their rapidly rising housing values, and a large, mostly immigrant working class working at low wages and struggling to move up the economic ladder. The economic divide in New York and Los Angeles is starting to look like the economic divide in Mexico City and São Paulo.

Actually, I live in just such an area. The divide is real, but it's not a matter of mutually hostile ethnic enclaves, as it was in the classical ethnic neighborhoods of the early 20th century. The answer to inequality is not to soak the rich or expel the poor, but to stop the influx long enough for everything to come right. We've done this before; it's not hard, and history suggests it causes the least bad feeling.

* * *

Finally, here's some refreshingly honest population policy from China:

National Population and Family Planning Commission director Zhang Weiqing said the number of rich people having more than one child is rapidly rising, citing a recent survey by his organisation....[G]owing numbers of pregnant women are risking their own lives and those of their children by seeking back-alley deliveries to avoid fines for having more than one child, Xinhua quoted vice health minister Jiang Zuojun as saying.

"Back-alley deliveries": could a science-fiction writer have coined that term?

Copyright © 2007 by John J. Reilly

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