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OPINION: Please France, don't make the same mistake we did in the US

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OPINION: Please France, don't make the same mistake we did in the US
Photo: AFP
13:17 CEST+02:00
A group of Americans living in France who were left dismayed by the success of Donald Trump's "campaign of anger and fear" issue a plea to French voters not to follow the same path in their own presidential election.

As a community of Americans living in France, we are dismayed by the campaign of anger and fear that has elevated Donald Trump to the highest position in our nation.

At present, we find ourselves unable to make sense of a presidency that undermines the very fabric of our democracy. We are even more alarmed, as French residents, to witness the same anger and fear spreading both in France, our adopted home, and in Europe at large.

In the United States, Trump and his administration have thrown the country into violent turmoil.

That is why we are reaching out to you, the French people, ahead of your presidential election.

We see more and more French citizens being influenced by the same kind of far-right propaganda—targeting minorities’ and women’s rights—that we witnessed in the US. We recognize the same deliberate use of fake news to spread alarmist messages and uncertainty, to stir up fear, and to pit citizens against each other instead of helping them find strength in solidarity. 

READ ALSO: Battle begins to stop fake news influencing the French election

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We observe the same feelings of disempowerment and passivity in those who are failing to stand up, to vote, to reject this unprecedented assault on modern democracy and its inevitable and disastrous aftermath.

Donald Trump is building a wall between the US and Mexico. 

In Europe, societal fences are springing up in the wake of Brexit. Here in France, at least one presidential candidate is now proposing that the country secede from Europe and close its borders to the world.

However, France does not need to look very far back in history to see the former East Germany and to understand the implications of getting stuck behind a wall. What we are quickly learning in the US is that closing borders not only hampers good relations with neighbors; it also suffocates trade and jobs.

The new reality unfolding before our eyes is one of reduced trade, higher import taxes, and excessive infrastructure costs—all with no guarantee of job creation.

Similarly, isolating France at a time when it is poised to become the progressive leader of the European Union is a step backward and a threat to the French economy and way of life.

From our perspective, “Made in France” is a stamp of quality. French products are the heart and soul of your rich patrimoine, and French workers are the country’s true and proud heroes. 

Your farmers, your artisans, your engineers, and your doctors are known and respected the world over. We believe the crucial question is not how to “protect” France's citizens behind walls based on fear, but rather how to elevate France to center stage. We need to shine a European spotlight on the richness of this country so that no one is left behind.

READ ALSO: Yes, Marine Le Pen could become French president, here's how

As outsiders looking in, we have nothing but awe and admiration for your extraordinary country, which was built on the universal values of liberté, égalité et fraternité

Please know that we feel compelled to encourage you, the French people, to avoid making the same mistake that we made in the US. In this spirit, we hope you will use your vote to rise above populism and demonstrate that France can be the champion of a better humanity.

Your presence and your voice are sorely needed.

Thank you.

Robin Molbert from Indivisibles France

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