I had high hopes for this presidential election in France. I let myself believe for a while that the humanistic core values of this society would prevail over personal interest.

But I’m afraid, early on this election-day morning, that the majority of the French are going to cast the “what’s in it for me” vote today, just like they do in America. Lower MY taxes. Get those brown people in MY neighborhood under control (or better yet, send them back from whence they came). Why should MY taxes pay for some loser’s unemployment? Just gimme MY iPod. The rest of you can go to hell.

It looks like the winner will be the conservative, Bush-loving Sarkozy. His opponent, Ségolène Royal, is bold and honest. She ran an unconventional campaign in which, rather than standing at podiums across the country and telling people what she would do for them, she held meetings all over the country at which she listened to the concerns of everyday citizens in order to learn what they wanted from her. It was a brave thing she did, but useless. People seem to have a need to be dominated. They’ll vote for daddy’s spanking over mommy’s loving arms today.

In his closing statement during the presidential debate last week, Sarkozy said he wanted a France that was apaisée, suggesting that he would be the one to do the appeasing. In hers, Ségolène said she wanted France to be paisible. Linguistic analysis of their word choice here is the key to their different mentalities. Sarko believes he can inflict order and fix social ills from on high. Ségo was sure the French had it in them to improve their lives by drawing on their own goodwill and working together to better society. She has a lot of faith in people. He has nothing but contempt for them.

I cling to the hope that the French, unlike Americans, will actually notice that this kind of culture saps the human spirit and lowers us. I hope they will revert to the values their society is built on in five years, at the next election. It would be a shame if they ended up like Americans, who won’t even extract their ample asses from their easy chairs to change the channel, much less to take a stand for other human beings.

At 8:00 tonight we’ll have the results. We’ll be on the edge of our seats then. We actually have been for weeks. Our hopes and fears inspired today’s Geeks in Love episode, Election Night:


Ségolène has more supporters than Sarkozy in every age group but the over 65. These people were in their 20s in the late 60s when there were major social changes here just as in the US. What happened to that generation? [Post-election addendum: looks like Sarko also got the 25-34, the ones who are tripling up in one-bedroom apartments and trying to get their careers started...]

Vincent just got back from voting. He took his 13-year-old son along with him. In the next election, he’ll be old enough to vote. It will be his generation that decides what’s important soon. Let’s hope they get it right.