Will the yellow vests just become weekend pests or will they organize around their obvious political victories and turn French politics towards a concept of the public interest that starts with better lives for most people?
Can the sudden, effective, popular pushback against President Emmanuel Macron cohere into a force sufficient to push him and his parliamentary party into progressive direction? Can it become a movement, with a party and candidate of its own, with a program of economic renovation beyond the re-empowerment and re-enrichment of the executive and shareholder classes? One that actually moves beyond rhetoric to green-up France’s sources and use of energy?
Macron’s abandonment of most of the principles which got him elected, coupled with his transition from fresh face to ancien regime mini-monarch has opened a path for a genuine innovator, with a genuine feel for the real lives of ordinary people, to frame for voters a program of policies aimed at peace and security, better-shared prosperity, and better public services.
Macron himself showed how quickly French voters will unite behind a promise of change: new names with new ideas and a civil approach to implementing them. I’m betting that within the gilets jaunes movement, or effectively tuned in to many of its grievances and goals, there are potential candidates and organizers and a party waiting to be formed.
How fitting if France should become again the cockpit of democratic revolution?
Of course, the Brits should be only a step or two behind them and propelled by an even greater sense of crisis.
As Prime Minister May’s Brexit Agreement slides towards Parliamentary rejection, the only choices left become “no deal” Brexit or no Brexit.
That choice is so defining and its consequences so undeniable that they demand a second referendum of confirmation or rejection. Most polls suggest the chances of a reversal of the 2016 referendum Leave vote seem good.
Why wouldn’t they be? Voters now have a better understanding of the emptiness of many promised benefits and reality of the contracted costs of withdrawal from the EU. Many also now know that they were played: targeted by a well- and in part foreign-financed psy-war campaign of dogwhistles and lies to get them to Leave.
Just as the French yellow vests seem unlikely to settle for just one reversal of President Macron’s many conventional, corporatist policies, a British rejection of Brexit, while vital, is not enough.
That’s why an emphatically non-partisan public campaign for a second Leave/Remain vote must be double-barreled, pairing two chances for the people to be heard.
After the second Brexit referendum, there must be an election of a new government.
Whatever happens from here on out, the UK cannot and will not be the same after the Brexit crisis. The results of the next national election will confirm that.
The propagators of the Brexit crisis, the liars and deniers on the Left and Right, Tories and Labour, UKIP and Lib-Dems have forfeited reputation and respect. And they have collectively created a great opportunity, a perfect moment for creative political thinking, for new parties and candidates, policies and programs to put before the voters.
Don’t wake me if voters don’t punish the name-brand parties and reward new names, faces and most important new initiatives and ideas.
People across Europe and the Americas have been voting like they feel their backs pressed to the wall, lashing out in anger and self-defense. But the inevitable backlashes against Macron and Brexit and Trump can bring those angry individuals together, to see the commonality of their grievances and feel the synergy of collective effort. May they defeat the Neoliberal oligarchy that has ruined our politics and threatens to destroy our planet.
One man’s dream, at least, of a possibly-emerging pathway to liberty, equality, and humanity for France, the UK and the United States.