There are many differences between the French and Americans. Over here, it’s common for conservatives to look down on European nations, reserving greater amounts of agitation for Parisians and their fellow countrymen and women.
You know the jokes. The ones about the white flags. The ones about World War II. The ones about Freedom Fries. Etc. Tensions reached an all-time high about 20 years ago when they wouldn’t join in a war that turned out to be as false as they said it was. No WMDs. And Iraq, as well as the entire Middle East, is more unstable now than at any point in modern history. A lot of good men and women died.
We have differences. And they extend beyond drinking hot brown water and eating snails.
But there’s one area in which we could learn a lot from the nation across the Pond.
They know how to stand up for themselves, and they know their government works for them and not the other way around. The French have always held their politicians accountable. These are the people that invented the guillotine and went on a bloody rampage against the king and queen and nobility a few hundred years ago because of the greed and apathy of the ruling class.
Currently, the French are having nationwide protests because of workers’ rights and governmental lunacy. This is a standard operating procedure for French citizens when they don’t like what their government is doing. And as a result, the French enjoy a much better standard of living than us and have happier lives because they will take nothing less. I saw a video of a garbage truck full of trash being dumped on a politician’s yard because of the politician’s policy stances. The nation is at a standstill because its people will not budge.
Meanwhile, over here in little Louisiana, a state with deep French roots, we’ve got a politician pushing a bill that would triple legislator pay. Being a politician shouldn’t be a career. Politicians shouldn’t be deified and made celebrities and asked for autographs and have rallies celebrating them.
In a society long ago, politicians and actors were treated relatively poorly because they didn’t add much value to society. Somewhere along the way, Americans changed and actors and politicians went from being our servants to our overlords.
We need to be more like the French in our view of elected officials. They shouldn’t talk down to us. They shouldn’t look down on us. They work for us.
The old joke goes politicians are like diapers. They should both be changed often and for the same reasons.
Josh Beavers is a teacher and a writer. He has been recognized five times for excellence in opinion writing by the Louisiana Press Association.