This past week, I had the privilege of hearing French President Emmanuel Macron’s speech to a joint session of Congress. In my previous meetings with Macron at CES® in Las Vegas and CES Unveiled Paris, I was impressed by his drive, eloquence and, above all, by his vision for France in the coming decades. Wednesday’s speech only confirmed my original impression. Macron is a leader for our times, and President Donald Trump must seize the opportunity to partner with him to forge a new era of global prosperity and stability.
Despite differences in style and age, Macron and Trump are alike in many ways. Both leaders are entrepreneurs and disruptors. And both leaders are tackling the tough reforms to make their countries great. For Macron, this has played out in recent confrontations with rail workers, who are striking in protest of Macron’s new labor reforms — which are desperately needed in France’s stagnant job market. For Trump, it’s been his commitment to deep, substantive changes to our tax system and long overdue regulatory reform.
This makes the two men ideal partners on the global stage — and, in my view, they are the Reagan and Thatcher of our time.At home, Reagan and Thatcher both cut back on choking government rules so entrepreneurs and innovators could drive growth and create jobs — just as Macron has done in France and Trump has done here. And abroad, the Great Communicator and the Iron Lady teamed up to forge a freer, more peaceful world — just as Trump and Macron can do, if they put their minds to it.
We need to stand firm by our historic allies like France in these turbulent times. The world is dividing into two different models of citizenship and governance. Some embrace a liberal democracy, and citizens are given the liberty to select the faith, jobs, education and leaders of their choice. Others are centralized, totalitarian nations that stifle innovation, creativity, and the free flow of information.
Macron’s speech highlighted “attacks on democracy through the rise of illiberalism and the destabilization of our international community by new powers and criminal states.” He went on to advocate for the active involvement of the U.S. on the world stage, asking the U.S. to “preserve and reinvent” multilateralism for a new generation. And his gift to President Trump — an oak tree from Belleau Wood in France, where many U.S. Marines died in combat in World War I a century ago — symbolizes the power and purpose of U.S. and French cooperation.
We need that power and purpose now more than ever.
China is on the other side of this global divide, and it continues to make gains on the West’s lead in innovation. The Chinese government has released a plan to eclipse all other nations in artificial intelligence, announcinga $2 billion research park in Beijing. And, due to unfair trade practices, they’re able to take U.S. trade secrets and intellectual property and profit off of them.
With a threat like this on the horizon, Americans need Macron and Trump to work together. Yes, the two men might hold vastly different opinions on topics such as climate change or health care — but their similarities run far deeper than their differences. A commitment to democracy, prosperity, and liberty are the lifeblood of both our countries — the values for which we have fought, lived, and died together.
My hope is that Macron and Trump will continue to deepen their partnership in the coming years, working together to create a world where innovation can thrive, economies can grow, and freedom can flourish.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, and author of the New York Times best-selling books, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses and The Comeback: How Innovation Will Restore the American Dream. His views are his own. Connect with him on Twitter:@GaryShapiro