No one doubts the strength of the slogan: “Make America Great Again.” Whether you agree with the policies President Trump’s slogan has come to embody, the appeal of greatness is intoxicating.
By changing one word and adding a pronoun, President of France Emmanuel Macron has retooled the slogan beyond the confines of nationalism.
“Make our planet great again,” Macron said at the end of his live response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. After Macron’s response in English aired on Periscope TV and the video was posted on Facebook and Twitter, the engagement poured in.
About six or so hours later, the stream had been viewed about 934,000 times. On Facebook, the post of the video had more than 1.7 million views.
Macron smartly played his move in the social-media-fueled brinkmanship that defined our election. After all, in a social-media age, effective political discourse is done through these channels. Particularly when the subject is the planet and the audience is global.
The message also underscores the stark differences in the messengers.
President Macron and President Trump are almost polar opposites in their political personas.
Macron, a measured, studied bureaucratic wunderkid of 39 vs. Trump, a boisterous, freewheeling covfefe of 70. When it comes to policy, particularly climate policy, the differences are no less obvious.
Despite this, France and the United States are staunch allies, with centuries of shared diplomatic, military and cultural partnership. The strength of the relationship is unlikely to be seriously damaged by the reactionary nationalism of the Trump campaign — with a caveat.
The push-pull of political ideology may play a louder role in the months and years to come.
When they met in Brussels, Macron countered Trump with his white-knuckle grip. He also posted a video earlier this year inviting American scientists and researchers to come to France to work on combating climate change. Smooth diplomat that he is, Macron delivers his message in a cordial, straightforward tone. It's a striking contrast to Trump's bluster.
And Macron's calculated move makes a larger point: Isolationism can't defy scientific reality. Climate policy must be left to those who want to protect both their country and the world.