Erik Svane waits for me in front of his apartment in a quiet residential area of the 17th arrondissement. The Chief Media Officer of Republicans in France is a large man, towering at least a head above the average Parisian crisscrossing past him, and so he is easily spotted from a distance. He sports shaded aviator-sunglasses and a black windbreaker pulled over a blood-red shirt. From a first impression he might resemble some no-nonsense biker seen in an American road movie. But whatever half-scary impression he gives off at first vanishes the second I approach him, as he lifts his large, tightened knuckles towards me and greets me with a solid fist-bump.
“And you’re Danish too?” he asks.
As it turns out, Svane and I share a nationality. His Danish father met his American mom at a university in New York. Learning that we share three languages, Svane switches effortlessly between impeccable Parisian French, American-accentuated Danish and singing American English. He is friendly and accommodating, and asks at least as many questions as I do. Besides that, he is an avid joker, demonstrating his wit as I ask him how long he has lived in Paris.
“Oh, not too long. Only about twenty years.”
Before settling in Paris, Svane lived in various places. His father’s job required the family to travel all over the world. But Svane always felt attracted to Paris, and after finishing a history degree in the U.S., he crossed the Atlantic.
“Paris is just such a beautiful city. As someone who started out delivering pizzas, I’ve since made my living working in journalism, writing articles and books as well as bandes dessinées.”
In his apartment large piles of books cover every surface in a peculiar juxtaposition of colorful cartoons and brick-heavy historical volumes. Some are in Danish, some in French, and some in English. The only clue to his American origin is lying on his couch: a small, white pillow with the stars-and-stripes printed across it. But despite its visual absence in his living room, Svane cares deeply about his country, which is now divided like never before. This is a division of which Svane has no problem pinpointing the source:
“America is divided between those who believe in fairy tales and those who believe in facts. The Democrats believe in fairy tales. They believe that every four years they have some knight in shiny armor going against Adolf Hitler. They believe they have some Messiah. Be it Lenin, Stalin, Che Guevara or Barack Obama.”
It is a recurring theme throughout our conversation. The Republicans represent the factual, reasonable side of America. They want lesser bureaucracy, fewer taxes and more individual freedom. Meanwhile the Democratic Party has turned into a cult-like organization inventing fairy-tale problems to paint themselves as heroes.
“These drama queens create or amplify their own crises all the time. We have to go on crusades constantly, whether it’s global warming, #MeToo, against tobacco smoking, against racism, against police killing blacks. The latest Republican in the White House, or the sin of all sins – racism. It never ends.”
Seemingly, Democrats have managed to infiltrate important institutions in American society. Quoting the political pundit Jim Treacher, Svane tells me how the education system and the media have become effective propaganda tools for furthering Democratic fairy tales.
“The left always tries to take over everything. You know what Jim Treacher said about journalism? Journalism is covering the news so that the Democrats don’t look too bad.”
This is apparently something that the first presidential debate, moderated by Fox News anchor Chris Wallace, clearly illustrated.
“Wallace didn’t ask any difficult questions to the Democrats. And then he asked Trump to renounce the far-right and Trump said, ‘Sure, why not.’”
In the debate, President Trump responded with “Stand back, and stand by,” to a request to disavow himself from white supremacists. This response was subsequently criticized by opponents as a deliberately ambiguous answer. But Svane perceived an imbalance in the questions posed to the two presidential candidates.
“Why not ask Biden, Kamala or Pelosi to denounce Antifa and Black Lives Matter? They are the ones who have been creating all the trouble this summer with riots, arson and statue destruction. I’m sure the alt-right is terrible, but they haven’t done much this year as far as I’ve heard of.”
After a little while Svane leaves the table to fetch a black face mask sporting a massive bald eagle. He dons the patriotic mask with a laugh. But despite his mask, Svane sees the coronavirus, which so far has claimed over a million lives worldwide, as another example of Democrat illusions.
“The media is exaggerating the severity of Covid. It turns out that it may not be at all as dangerous as they make it out to be. People are going to be sick for two weeks and then they’ll be fine, just like Donald Trump, Silvio Berlusconi and Boris Johnson. It’s a total mass hysteria we are in.”
The exaggeration of the coronavirus crisis, he says, became even more evident when civil unrest broke out in the U.S. following the death of George Floyd:
“This shows the politicians for the terrible hypocrites they are. Since March we have been told to wear masks, to social distance, to stay inside and suddenly, when there’s a chance to accuse the Republicans of racism they make a 180-degree turn. What happened with the virus, was it a lie all the time? Yes it was, and yes it is.”
Svane fears that the Left’s lies and dishonesty extends itself all the way to the voting booth. Citing widespread voter fraud, Trump has refused to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power. Opponents have accused him of stoking fear, pointing to scientific literature and government reports concluding little evidence of voter fraud.
But Svane is also concerned.
“The Democrats have been committing voter fraud for decades through the mail-in ballots and voter harvest. And then they say, ‘It doesn’t exist,’ and the media repeat that because they are 90 percent Democrats. How do they know it’s not there when it’s hidden? When there’s no research into it?”
What is not hidden, according to Svane, is the Democrats’ attempt to demonize every political opponent—a typical Democrat trait.
“All that Democrats do is demonize their opponents. If it’s not Adolf Hitler, it’s a clown or a Neanderthal. We keep hearing this joke: ‘There was a fire at the White House Library and Bush or Trump or Palin were very upset. Because both books burned and they hadn’t finished coloring one of them.’ It’s a funny joke, but it’s the same every time.”
Confronted with Donald Trump’s name-calling on Twitter, arguably also a form of demonization, Svane draws attention to the Democrats’ flaws.
“Trump might be accused of being impolite but think about the Democrats. Democrats accuse us of being homophobes, fascists and racists. They called racism the DNA of the U.S. It’s a demeaning insult coupled with self-satisfied arrogance.”
Despite the current division in his country, Svane still dreams of going back to the U.S. sometime in the future.
“I have no plan to go back right now, but I would like to at some point. But I wouldn’t know where to move.”
He holds a brief pause.
“Probably not California.”