Trump and Macron: Parallel Paths

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Trump And Macron: Parallel Paths on Friday, May 5, 2017.

Emmanuel Macron’s highly-refined Parisian palate would most likely disdain Donald Trump’s penchant for well-done steaks slathered with ketchup, but the leading candidate in Sunday’s election for the president of France shares many similarities with the president of the United States. Those parallels popped off the page in a profile of M. Macron in the Wall Street Journal last week:

• “very singular person with lots of contacts”

• “friends in high places”

• “shortcut the traditional political path”

• “sweeping aside mainstream candidates and the traditional left-right divide”

• “has long cast himself as an outsider”

• “set his sights on high office early”

• “a willingness to defy convention”

• “he clinch[ed] the $11.8 billion Nestle purchase. The deal [italics mine] made Mr. Macron…a wealthy man”

Of course, the differences between the two men are vast: Mr. Macron is only 39 years old; he studied philosophy; was enrolled at the elite French academy that trains ministers, bankers and presidents; has had government experience (having served in outgoing President Hollande’s administration); and has mastered the arcane regulations of the country’s 3,334-page national labor code.

But there is one other similarity that merits noting: messaging. Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan—on baseball caps, tee shirts, banners, Twitter hashtags, and websites—became the overriding theme of all his campaign proposals. And although now, as president, he is shifting positions on many of his campaign promises, he still defaults to the message that everything he does is in the interest of making America great again. Contrast that with Hillary Clinton’s nebulous, “Stronger Together.”

Emmanuel Macron’s campaign slogan is “En Marche,” or “On the Move.” For a country that has been weighed down by labor disputes, economic concerns, immigration issues, racial conflict, and a series of terrible terrorist attacks, you can see that a message which points a way forward is a ringing peal of optimism for the electorate of France.

Will the focused messaging work for M. Macron? We’ll know on Sunday.

This blog was originally published on Forbes as Trump And Macron: Parallel Paths on Friday, May 5, 2017.

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