"We" and what army?
I appreciate your positive approach, but with all due respect find it rather misplaced, as I don’t believe the US can be compared to France.
Do correct me if I’m wrong, but when Republicans (or any other party for that matter) raise taxes, control prices and wages, and generally speaking inflate the size and reach of the central government, they are quite simply an anomaly — as in so doing, they go against the founding principles of the nation - and the people can, and do indeed, fix many, if not all, these anomalies.
After all, taxes and representation are the real issues that laid the foundations of the USA, and the sparks that ignited the American Revolution.
France however, is exactly America’s dark twin in that respect. The all powerful central state goes back to Louis the XIVth (at least) and the only thing the French Revolution “changed” was to move the centre of power from Versailles to Paris. The “revolutionaries” then proceeded to fully institutionalize and organize the principle of state control and intervention, that remains the pillar of the French republic to this very day - arresting thousands, and cutting the heads who dared get in the way or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time — in effect inventing the doctrine of Terrorism (it’s no coincidence the French Revolution was the inspiration and reference to most of the 20th century Communist ones, starting with the Soviet.)
To this day, this principle has never been challenged by any French politician, and even less so by the French people (those who choose to stay, that is). Within my voter’s lifetime (roughly 20 years), I’ve seen both sides rule the country and talk about “decentralization”, a much vaunted concept by which they mean to share the power with the local institutions. This was cheap talk (Sarkozy isn’t a pioneer, even in that respect) and remains dead letter, and Sarkozy himself doesn’t bother mentioning it anymore (He does take pleasure in being compared to Napoleon Bonaparte however).
In addition to that, bear in mind that, for instance, the French didn’t reject the European Constitution because they saw it as yet more intrusion by the State in their life, but on the contrary denounced it as an Anglo-Saxon ultraliberal scheme (in the classic, European meaning of the term: free market, competition, individual liberties, etc.) whose only purpose was to attack their beloved social model of Marxist theft and redistribution. In short, in their view it’s not that the EU Constitution offered them too much Socialism, but rather not enough.
That’s the French political culture there and then, and unlike you, I actually hope it won’t pick up and dust off again, as every time it did, it brought nothing but more pain and restriction on the people’s liberty, self-responsibility and ultimately prosperity. In fact, I fear this is precisely what Sarkozy is trying to achieve, and I believe his call for reforms’ only goal is not to enable a drastic change of society, but to restore the establishment’s “welfare”, threatened as this neo-aristocratic class feels by the steady decline in State revenue, resulting from the last 30 years’ ghastly economic performance (itself a result of their collectivist and interventionist policies.)
I guess the bottom line is that even if I was wrong and Sarkozy was not the political establishment drone I feel he is, then he would be and remain an anomaly in French political culture — and I believe you underestimate the capacity of said culture not to reform itself. France’s overblown central State is not the result of some misguided and recent political experiment that shall in time be corrected by the voters: It is France’s very nature.
I can’t think of any - quite the opposite actually (and being French, I know something of the “virtues” of appeasement.)
But then, I’ve been educated in public schools too (not that we have a choice here, since the French state forces its monopoly on Education, as in so many other fields)