The voice of the chicken, like the voice of the turtle, is heard in the land and it’s making a fearsome racket, on final approach to the roost. The established order has been turned upside down in a flutter of fine feathers. The unmentionables and the deplorables are suddenly at the village gates.
The elites are driven by fear of invasion from the south, and they never expected to meet such a wall of resistance, not of stone or brick, but a wall of resurgent will. Jeb Bush had a point, though a small one, when he observed that illegal immigration was “an act of love.” But defending home, hearth and the culture is an act of love, too, and as it turns out it’s what comes naturally to the millions on several continents.
Theresa May is determined to lead Britain, no longer with an empire but with fresh memories of empire, out of the European Union to sit once more on its own bottom. Nobody’s any longer laughing at the prospect of France led by Marine Le Pen, who promises to protect la belle France from transformation into a satellite of Islam. In Brazil, a 76-year-old white man is riding a right-wing backlash against leftist profligacy and misrule.
None of these worthies is an incarnation of Donald Trump, or even close to it, but the Donald’s unexpected success in the United States is inspiration, if not model. Peasants everywhere have had enough of tugging at a forelock and saluting the elites in charge.
Brazil is an unlikely candidate to follow the Trump example. “In a big, multiethnic country built by immigrants and slaves,” in the observation of The Washington Post, “a septuagenarian white male leader is riding a right-wing backlash after an era of leftist rule. His much younger spouse is a former model. His five-letter last name starts with a ‘T’ — but it’s Temer, not Trump.”
At first glance Michel Temer is a far piece from Donald Trump. He has no bluster or scattergun insult for anyone who gets in his way. He’s a dull plodder, a career politician and a mechanic of no pretense to magician, with nothing to make a millennial throw a hat in the air. He tweets, though hardly with the volume of the Donald’s hourly export of the contents of his head, and few of the Temer tweets move anybody’s needle.
But like the Donald, he owes success to the frailty of a certain woman, Dilma Rousseff, the first female president who was impeached five months ago for violating rules about drawing up the national budget. Unlike Hillary Clinton, she was not accused of personal corruption, but remnants of the glass ceiling fell on her, anyway. Her party took a drubbing in the October municipal elections, losing 60 percent of the seats it held across Brazil. “It’s an anti-status quo sentiment,” Lucas de Aragao, an analyst in Brasilia, tells The Post. “Just like Brexit and Trump, but it’s not about ideology as much as a lack of results.”
The Brazilian national election won’t be held for another year, but the presidential campaign in France is furiously on the boil now. The French vote April 23, and if, as expected, no one gets a majority, there’s a run-off on May 7. Mme. Le Pen is leading in the polls but the wise heads in Paris say, with fading confidence, that she has no chance in the run-off. The early favorite, Francois Fillon, got caught putting his wife in a cushy, well-paying job, and the scandal — no sex, they’re French — now hangs over the election. The third candidate, Emmanuel Macron, hugs the center, where most road kill dies, and he has little experience.
Mme. Le Pen is drawing the crowds, like Donald Trump did in late October, and they’re big and noisy, answering her promise to protect France from globalism and out-of-control immigration from the majority-Muslim countries of North Africa. When she talks about immigration she’s answered by the chant, “France! France! On est chez nous! (This is our country!)” When she denounces globalism — i.e., the European Union — she is answered by cries of “France first!”
She has made 144 written “commitments,” sort of a “contract with France,” promising to severely restrict immigration, deport illegal aliens and increase taxes on imports and job contracts of foreigners living in France. Like Britain, France would hold a national referendum on whether to leave the EU. If it all sounds familiar, it is.
“Past leaders chose deregulated globalism,” she says. “They said it would be happy. It turned out to be atrocious. Financial globalization and Islamist globalization are helping each other out. Those two ideologies want to bring France to its knees.”
If that sounds familiar, that’s because it’s familiar, too.
• Wesley Pruden is editor in chief emeritus of The Times.
Copyright © 2017 The Washington Times, LLC.