“Ce que je veux, c’est que vous, partout, vous alliez le faire gagner parce que c’est notre projet! Vive la République! Vive la France !” – Emmanuel Macron, December 10
By Ryan Zohar
On December 10, French presidential candidate and former economy minister Emmanuel Macron yelled these words during a rally with 15,000 of his supporters in Paris. The rally was undoubtedly a reflection of Macron’s rising popularity in a presidential contest that has favored right-wing candidate François Fillon to come head to head with far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the second round of voting. Macron, a former member of the Socialist Party himself, represents a needed shift for the center-left in France which is struggling to escape the legacy of François Hollande’s disastrous mandate. In April, he started his movement En Marche ! and in November he announced his candidacy in the upcoming presidential elections.
A breath of fresh air for those frustrated with the perennial domination of the center-left by the the Socialist Party, Macron embraces economic liberalization, European integration, and modernization for the French state.
He seeks to combat the economic stagnation that has characterized the ineptitude of Hollande’s policies. His vision of France seems a far-cry from the rise of far-right populism which is now being seen across Europe, and in some respects across the globe. Macron is the liberal-world order’s challenge to the popularity of Marine Le Pen and her party Front National.
So when Macron appeared before such a massive crowd on December 10th, it undoubtedly sent a message to the rest of the candidates that he must not be ignored, that he is a force to reckon with. And, in many respects, the rally went extremely well. Macron spoke eloquently to his base, which roared in applause each time he delivered a zinger or one-liner that they took as particularly powerful. In Macron’s big finale at the rally, he urged his supporters to go out and help the movement grow, and ultimately to help him win the presidency. “What I want, is that you, everywhere—that you make us win because this is our project!” Macron screeched at the crowd. What was a seen as a climactic ending by his supporters at the rally would go viral in the days to come. In just a few short days, the clip would appear all over social media. It was remixed, edited, and dubbed onto video clips.
Americans who are old enough to remember could likely draw a parallel to the 2004 Democratic Primaries. In the fall of 2003, Howard Dean was the front-runner of the Democratic primaries. He sought to oust president George W. Bush who was in the midst of what Dean saw as a disastrous war in Iraq. Known for riling up crowds, Dean would give impassioned speeches, leading some to brand him the angry-candidate. Fivethirtyeight’s documentary-short on the Dean scream claims that the media pushed a narrative that Dean did not have the temperament to be president. From being top of the polls ahead of the Iowa caucus, he quickly began slipping. He would lose the first battle of the Democratic primary campaign in Iowa. After coming in third in the Iowa caucus, the former governor of Vermont would give a speech trying to boost the spirits of his dejected supporters. The speech would soon become famous, though not for the words that were said. Instead, news clips and comedy sketches would inundate the public with Dean’s last section of the speech. After listing states one after another that Dean promised his supporters they would win, he let out a high-pitched scream. The banshee-like cry was uncharacteristic of Dean who has a deep voice and was in the middle of acknowledging a massive defeat to John Kerry as well as runner-up John Edwards. After the media fallout in the wake of the gaffe, Dean would say that the scream was a result of his voice cracking. And if Macron’s gravelly voice at the end of his rally was any indication, it seems he was close to jumping an octave and hitting a soprano scream as well.
The scream would make its rounds on nightly talk shows and into comedians’ sets. Dean would be lambasted by the likes of Conan O’Brien, Dave Chappelle, and David Letterman, among others. The Dean campaign would later sink in the polls, and he quickly became the primary’s longshot candidate. He would lose in almost all the states he vowed to win in that famous speech. However, according to Nate Silver, Dean was doomed before he let out his famous scream. It was the third-place finish in Iowa that spelled his end; he was toast. Whether or not it was the “Dean Scream” that sank the campaign or if the scream was just a harbinger of what would inevitably have come, the gaffe cemented itself in American political campaigns’ book of don’ts. It seems, however, that the lesson has not yet resonated across the Atlantic. Some in the media are already drawing links between Dean’s political faux pas and Macron’s wild yelling.
The question being asked now is whether the Macron’s yelling will lead him to the same fate as Dean.
For the time being, Macron seems to busy rising in popularity but there is symbolism in such a gaffe from a master of communication.
Despite increasing exposure, Macron has a long road ahead of himself if the polls are to be believed. Macron must march forward, but the memory of the scream will not be leaving him anytime soon. Only time will tell if Macron and his supporters are going to be be able to win in Marseille, and in Lyon, and in Nice, and in Bordeaux. And then go to Paris. To take back l’Élysée. Yeeaargh!!!
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