Biden, Macron and the rise of the ‘bellows’ man

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Forget Machiavelli.

It is no better to be in today’s world of politics feared as loved. It is also not better to be loved. The key to success in the hyperpolarized political culture of the Western world is not to be neither.

Just look at Joe Biden. But the Frenchman Emmanuel Macron. But Mario Draghi. Or even the German Olaf Scholz (WHO?).

These men – who are all gathering at the G20 summit in Rome this weekend – have in common not only their whiteness, but the fact that most voters in their home countries think they are more or less at best. mech.

Biden, though loved by his believers, has the dubious difference that he has the lowest an assessment of the approval of any president at this stage of his term, except Donald Trump. At only 41 percent, Macron assessment it’s even worse – though not bad lately French standards. By comparison, Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, who got his position by appointment, not by election, looks like a man of the people with 47% approval.

Wrong populism. What all the leading lights of Western democracy have in common is that populist right-wingers are under constant fire. This means that their base is not just made up of traditional supporters, but of voters who feel they have no choice.

A few years ago, personality was a coin of the Western political kingdom. And it wasn’t just Trump. Macron, a former pro-EU socialist who promised to reinvent France as we know it, Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom and an Austrian Sebastian Kurz they all came to power, as one man shows.

But smooth populism turned out to have the attraction of a one-night stand. Trump and Kurz are gone. Johnson is still present, but with an approval rating of just 32 per cent, the UK leader is no longer the winning leader of Brexit over the years.

If we take you seriously in 2021, it helps that half of the voters insult you. The fact that Macron is holding on to France has so much to do with his political skills as with the fact that some of his main challengers would best be described as far-right and ultra-far right.

Despite the lack of popularity, it is likely that any Western leader in the G20 will remain in power in the near future. This is largely because the alternative is simply too scary to even think of voters who are not supporters of ‘dyed in wool’. It might even be exciting to embrace a brilliant new thing when the alternative doesn’t cause the end of the world as we know it (think of the appeal of Ronald Reagan in 1980, Tony Blair in 1997, or Macron in 2017).

If the Trump presidency has taught the democracies of the Western world anything, it is the virtue of the establishment. Put this in the current context if the alternative to a predictable, boring safe pair of hands is to be driven by shocks that deny a pandemic. Camp Auschwitz T-shirts,, mech it starts to look quite attractive.

Therefore, despite the constant shrinking of the hands of political analysts regarding the future of democracy, we are not on the threshold of Armageddon.

The meeting in Rome this weekend is reminiscent of that. It was forgotten before it started. Issues on the G20 agenda (vaccination of the developing world and the fight against climate change) are as important as ever. But weighty is what serious leaders do best, so most citizens of the Western world happily ignore such peaks. And no nonsense, drama and free tweets, they can do it safely.

According to Trump, the goal of any straight-thinking Western leader is to be as humble and meek as possible. Model: Angela Merkel.

At first glance, it seems that the German leader, who will take the place of her successor immediately after the composition of the new government, is the exception to the rule. It is boring but very popular.

But the recent outpouring of Merkel’s love only happened when she announced she was leaving. her decision three years ago, in order not to seek a further term, it triggered a wave of nostalgia after Elton John’s endless farewell tour. This was all the more powerful due to the fact that the harvest of her potential successors left something to be desired.

Despite Merkel’s recent mania, any fair assessment of Merkel’s 16-year record should conclude that her accomplishments were rare. Her real achievement was that she concealed this reality by giving the Germans a sense of stability.

Therefore, it would still be wise for today’s leaders to focus on their Machiavelli.

“Everyone sees what you look like,” he wrote, “Few experience what you really are.”


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