[I wrote this two years ago, but it seems worth reposting. The only thing that has changed is that I think even less of François Hollande. -FM]
So It’s Bastille Day. Although it isn’t technically a celebration of the storming of the Bastille, I still think of it that way. And thus it is the perfect holiday from my standpoint. First, it involves the people attacking the aristocracy. And regardless of what Edmund Burke thought, that’s generally a good thing. Second, it isn’t an American holiday so I don’t have to deal with a disruption to my mail and library access.
The official purpose of Bastille Day is to celebrate Fête de la Fédération. I know what you’re thinking, “The what’s it?” This was a feast held exactly one year after the storming of the Bastille to celebrate the establishment of a constitutional monarchy. But it didn’t last long. France had, what you might call, growing pains. But once constitutional democracy was finally established in France, it held on, unlike in other countries like, I don’t know, America?
François Hollande has been a bit of a disappointment as the president of France. But most of his problems stem from being stuck with the shared European currency. Here in America, we elected Barack Obama and a Democratic majority in the House and a super-majority in the Senate. Combine this with the fact that Obama really was a very conservative guy and you have a prescription for the federal government really getting some stuff done — not just with his own caucus but with the Republicans as well. But instead, getting anything done was very difficult. Add to that, what did get done was excessively watered down. If that kind of thing happened in France, the people would storm the Bastille.
Over the years, I’ve come to think that the idea of the rugged American is just a myth. The true American is a guy who kills himself just to get by, but still loves the inheriting wealthy because he’s too stupid to realize that his father is not George Romney. I’ve long dreamed that the middle class in this country would eventually push back against a government by, for, and of the rich. But now I think as long as the government isn’t actively doing drone attacks on the suburbs, the rich will be just fine. Not that it matters; by that point the entire middle class will consist of one family in Queens.
So let us celebrate a country were the government really has to be concerned that the people will rise up if conditions get bad enough. I’m feeling kind of depressed that Americans only ever revolted in defense of chattel slavery. And many still think they ought to revolt over that — even if they don’t put it that way.
Vive la France!