When I saw this tweet by Chris Hayes, I was not sure if he really knew what he was talking about or not. If the former, this is brilliant. If the latter, this is dumber than a brick.
Gauche-Lepenisme is an important phenomenon in French politics: many supporters of Le Pen are in fact leftists, former supporters of the French Communist Party, indeed, who got deserted by the Socialists when they moved to the center. In 1986, Francois Mitterand ditched the long political alliance between the Socialists and Communists that was credited with the stability of French party politics during the Fifth Republic and joined with the center right party in the governing coalition. In a sense, this was the first major overt triangulation in the leftist politics in the West and, for Mitterand and the Socialists, a wildly successful one–but also one that left many former Communist supporters on the wayside.
For all the description that Le Pen and his movement gets for being “far right,” FN is actually very much a leftist party when it comes to economic matters. In a political arena where rejection of neoliberal economics is regarded as taboo and the left-right politics is defined largely on social and “international” aspects (i.e. with regards the EU in French context), FN is indeed “far right,” but in fact, its politics are multidimensional by design, and the same has been true with many French voters. It was the absorption of the ex-communist voters, mostly far left on the economic dimension, but presumably all over the place on other matters, that made FN the force it became, not necessarily its ultranationalist ideology, and this came about not because of a vacuum on the rightmost edge of the political spectrum, but the abandonment of the left for the “middle.”
I have been claiming for some time now that this was what happened in United States, at least up to a point, in 1980: abandonment of the economic left by the allegedly “moderate” Democrats willfully ignorant of multidimensional politics generated the Reagan Democrats. This is happening again in 2016, with Trump. So, if the DLC was the American Mitterand, Trump is indeed American Le Pen.