What we could learn from the Paris protests

Colin Webb, News Editor

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The worst riots in over fifty years have grasped Paris, France for four straight weeks, starting on November 17. Sparked by a proposed fuel tax hike from French president, Emmanuel Macron, a massive opposition organized itself to combat the plan.

The first November 17 “Yellow Jacket” demonstration was organized as a general protest to French president Emmanuel Macron’s proposed gas and diesel tax hike. 280,000 people marched clad in yellow reflective vests—giving them their name—to show their discontent. While the tax was intended to reduce fossil fuel usage throughout the country, the working class and poor of France who cannot afford to live in the cities, and thus rely on automotive transport, would have been disproportionately affected.

Many French workers are living paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes even this isn’t enough. To make matters worse, France’s unemployment stands at an astonishing 9.3%, meaning almost one-in-ten people living in France don’t have a job. In France, gas is already $7.06 per gallon, and Macron’s tax would immediately increase the price by $0.30. The tax was intended to be raised further in the coming years.

Macron has already been accused of being a “President for the rich”, and his proposed tax did nothing but fan the flames of discontent that have always burned within France. As a result of too much pushing from Macron’s administration, the people of France stood up and made their demands heard. Because of this, the Prime Minister of France was forced to put the tax plan on hold.

While France’s protests have been violent, especially in the past, each demonstration consistently brings results. Why is it, then, that such demonstrations are practically locked within the country? Demonstrations like this rarely occur in the United States, despite their very similar histories. Americans, it seems, are more complacent than their European cousins.
According to theglobaleconomy.com, political stability in the United States has been on a sharp decline since 2015. While still nowhere near as low as it was in 2004, it is still lower than it has been in over ten years.

Americans, at least a fair number of them, are evidently not content with the current political situation in the US. The most well-covered political action in recent memory is likely the nationwide “March For Our Lives” movement. Even then, this is only one movement. Americans owe it to themselves to make their voices heard, their demands acknowledged, and their rights respected. Otherwise, the silence we express is an invitation to be trampled upon.
Perhaps there are some things we could learn from the French.

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