From the beginning I’ve been a supporter of Macron and his desire to extend economic globalization. But here’s the problem: The West is experiencing a loss of relative status, due to diminished power and influence. Western societies, including France, are being transformed by immigration beyond what many of their native-born citizens had expected. The rising prominence of terror, migration and security issues have boosted some of the less salubrious sides of the right wing. Add to that mix wage stagnation and the increasingly common view — held by 91 percent in France — that today’s children will not have better lives than their parents. Finally, the decline of organized religion, especially pronounced in Western Europe, has created a spiritual vacuum and a crisis of meaning.
In response, people want something beyond more income redistribution (what the left is offering) or more globalization (what the pre-populist right used to offer). People want ideas and inspiration, and when no good new ideas are put forward, the current default seems to be nationalist ideas, including of the less tolerant variety.
Macron doesn’t have any new ideas or vision, however much you might like the old ideas he has embraced. And so, however promising it might have seemed at first, his tenure has accelerated the collapse of the traditional European liberal order. For some time, his approval ratings in France have been lower than those of U.S. President Donald Trump.