French President Emmanuel Macron has embarked on a “debating tour” of France in response to the uproar surrounding his gas tax increases, decision to impose from the center a “carbon free” economy on France, and the yellow vest demonstrations against first the tax increases and subsequently in broader opposition to that overweening centrality of governance.
And Macron laid bare his basic misunderstanding of his own political environment and of the nature of French sovereignty. He’s already met with 600 mayors in Normandy, and there he laid out his basic tenets.
Macron said he was there to hear the concerns of the French and promised that the questions raised by the citizens would be given consideration.
Given consideration. But no commitment actually to answer those questions satisfactorily to “the citizens.” And this:
We won’t agree on everything, that’s normal, that’s democracy. But at least we’ll show we are a people who are not afraid to talk, exchange, and debate[.]
Talk, exchange, and debate. Chit-chat, not action. We’ll put on this show, though.
And who is this “we” that won’t agree on everything? Disagreement among the citizens is, indeed, the stuff and core of democracy. But government? Government has nothing with which to agree or disagree; that’s a non sequitur. Government has only to obey the instructions of its employers, those citizens.
Or does the French government (not only Macron, and not only the present administration), the head of a legal system one of whose basic tenets is that the burden is on a government-accused man to prove his innocence rather than on the government to prove his guilt, conceive that the people work for the government and not the other way around?
Not even Rousseau went that far.