I won’t vote in the second round of the 2017 French presidential elections.
“After all that drama, you won’t show up?” you may ask.
That’s right. I won’t go vote.
If the polling stations had been set up better, I would have gone and leave the ballot blank, or rather drop an empty envelope in the ballot box to show that I did care about the election but none of the two candidates was an acceptable option to me. But I’m not a masochist and I don’t want to queue for hours just to make a useless point.
I refuse to vote for a candidate or a party I don’t believe in. I do not trust M. Hail Corporate and I hate Mrs. Mein Kampf. It’s an impossible choice.
When the first-round results came out last Sunday, I wasn’t particularly surprised. In the 1990s, when Le Pen (the father) started to win around 10% overall support, everybody was shocked. In 2002, when Le Pen (the father, again) made it to the second round of the presidential election, French were floored and outraged. Fifteen years later, the question is no longer whether the Front National will be in the top two or three parties, but how high exactly its score will be.
21.30% of French are voting for a far-right-wing party promoting hate, racism, xenophobia, extremely backward values and the darkest pages of French history. This is a fact, whether we like it or not.
Now, media and politicians are urging voters, once again, to block Le Pen’s route to power. Like in 2002, the motto is “anyone but her.”
Of course, I don’t want to see her leading the country. But there is an issue we are conveniently avoiding: almost ¼ French voters believe in a hateful party. How do we deal with that? These voters and their ideas aren’t going anywhere. The beast will always be lurking for its chance to seize power.
I’m tired of hypocritical, last-minute desperate calls to “block Le Pen.” It’s disturbing, as if French was schizophrenic—righteous indignation by day, extremist vote by night.
I know not all Front National voters sleep in a Waffen-SS uniform and chat online with their KKK friends across the pond. Some voters feel like they’ve been cheated by “mainstream parties,” that an “unconventional leader” may take a radical approach and “change things.”
At some level, I can understand the rationale. However, I simply cannot understand racism and extremely conservative values. I cannot excuse using “immigrants” and “foreigners” and anyone different as scapegoats. I cannot follow this meaningless rhetoric because the “facts” aren’t “facts” at all but twisted interpretation of stats, news and trends.
I’ve argued with “fachos” (fascists) before. It’s a very frustrating exercise because you are arguing against at worst lies and at best ignorance.
Arguing is useless. I wish everyone could experience what it feels like to be a minority. I wish everyone could travel and discover other cultures. I wish I could tell people that it’s okay to be proud of who you are, that other people are proud of what they are as well, and that it’s not mutually exclusive. I wish I could say that social change is natural and if you don’t feel like embracing it it’s fine as long as you let those who do live their life freely. I wish I could explain that hate, fear and distrust don’t make anyone happier.
Yesterday night, just as I was completely discouraged after reading racist Tweets, this beautiful moment happened.
Mark was working on a colour-by-number book—you’ve probably seen those, each area has a number and a corresponding numbered colour to use.
For those who don’t have kids, colouring within the lines is a surprisingly hard skill to master, so Mark was very proud to show me his work.
“Oh, good job!” I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster with a cold and fever. “You did very well. But look… the face didn’t have a number, you didn’t have to colour it.”
Yeah, I’m a French parent, I point out mistakes, I don’t just shout, “OMG, YOU ARE A GENIUS, SNOWFLAKE!”
Mark looked at me, surprised. “Well, that’s silly,” he stated. “Nobody has white skin. I don’t have white skin, you don’t have white skin, daddy doesn’t have white skin, Zaïd doesn’t have white skin, Lucas doesn’t have white skin and… nope. Nobody has white skin.”
Take that, Front National. Our multicultural four-year-old kid understands the world better than you do.