“As we begin 2017, the most urgent threat to liberal democracy is not autocracy,” writes William Galston of The Wall Street Journal, “it is illiberal democracy.”
Galston’s diagnosis is not wrong, and his alarm is not misplaced.
Yet why does America’s great export, liberal democracy, which appeared to be the future of the West if not of mankind at the Cold War’s end, now appear to be a church with a shrinking congregation?
Why is liberal democracy losing its appeal?
A front-page story about France’s presidential election, in the same day’s Journal, suggests an answer.
In the final round next May, the French election is likely to come down to a choice of Marine Le Pen or Francois Fillon.
Le Pen is the “let France be France” candidate of the National Front. Fillon is a traditionalist Catholic from northwest France, home to the martyred resistance of the Revolution — the legendary Vendee.
Fillon won practicing and nonpracticing Catholics alike by a landslide, and took 3 in 5 votes of those professing other faiths.
Le Pen wants France to secede from the EU and move closer to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. The five million Arabs and Muslims currently in France, the prospective arrival of millions more, and recent Islamic terrorist atrocities have all propelled her candidacy.
Fillon succeeded in his primary by identifying himself as a man of Catholic beliefs and values and an opponent of same-sex marriage and abortion. He does not repudiate secularism, but believes that the France that was “the eldest daughter of the church” should also be heard.
Together, what do the Le Pen and Fillon candidacies tell us?
France and Europe may be moving inexorably away from a liberal democratic, de-Christianized and militantly secularist America. If we are the future, less and less do France and Europe appear to want that future.
While our elites welcome the Third World immigration that is changing the face of America, France and Europe are recoiling from and reacting against it. The French wish to remain who and what they are, a land predominantly of one language, one culture, one people.
America preaches that all religions are equal and should be treated equally. France does not seem to share that liberal belief. And just as the Middle East seems to want no more churches or Christians, France and Europe appear to want no more mosques or Muslims.
Where America’s elites may celebrate same-sex marriage and “reproductive rights,” more and more Europeans are identifying with the social values of Putin’s Russia. Pro-Putin parties are surging in Europe. Pro-America parties have been facing losses and defections.