It’s crazy what’s happening in France. All the protesting! Absolutely mind-blowing. Yes, I’m a poli-sci major, so I probably understand the protest to a much more advanced degree than you. But to put it simply, this protest is at once completely unexpected and extremely expected. I want you all to understand it as well as I do, so I’ll try to explain it. Keep in mind, I AM a poli-sci major (AKA “political science”), so I take into account more factors than the average Joseph.
I, personally, find it difficult to believe that this is happening, considering the French government’s history. Those yellow vests the protesters wear? A huge political statement. Truly — if you knew the context, you’d appreciate how big. Super big. I’ve listened to quite a few political podcasts about it (Newshour, NPR’s Up First, The Weeds, etc.), and because of my deep understanding of the government of France, it’s crazy to think about what it means and understand how severe the statement of the vest is. Words can’t describe it. In fact, I was speaking to some of my friends in France recently (that I made while studying abroad in Paris last winter) about what the yellow vest signifies. So, because you probably don’t have the solid French history and government background that I do, I’m going to sum it up in five simple words: the yellow vest is huge.
Taxes are incredibly important to the people. INCREDIBLY important. For the protesters, that is a serious problem. Actually, that reminds me of one out of the several conversations I had with my professor (from one of my six 5-unit government classes this quarter) about the tax situation in France. Money tends to be of high importance for many French citizens, which is something I had to seriously consider while working as lead head intern for a recent ASSU Senate campaign. Taxes are almost the backbone to this movement and I cannot emphasize enough how important they are.
I’m sure many of you are wondering what everybody keeps asking me: what is the French government going to do about the situation? It’s honestly not clear; they can handle this situation in multiple ways, but it’s not fair to say which way they will pick. As a poli-sci major (ie. “the science of politics” and/or “the politics of science”), it’s hard for me to see this issue on just the surface level and come up with a simple prediction. I encourage you all to take a similar approach. Nuance is, in this case, nearly as big as the vests are.
In conclusion, it makes sense if you still don’t understand the French protest; my takes are generally very nuanced and require a solid understanding of international political systems (considering that I am, in fact, a poli-sci major). Additionally, as a poli-sci major — and, for what it’s worth, a poli-sci minor as well— it’s hard for me to “dumb things down,” primarily because of my in-depth understanding of the current political and governmental climates.
I hope this helps.