At the time -- Sunday night -- that I am writing this column, the Front National looks to be the big winner of this first round of the presidential elections in France.
It is winning politically because it has taken back the voters -- and then some -- Sarkozy "siphoned off" from it in 2007.
It is winning historically by emerging victorious from this famous bet on the "de-demonization" that was to release it from the ghetto where the extreme right has been confined for the past 60 years.
Marine Le Pen, by the way, has won over her diplodocus of a father, whose 2002 record she has pulverized, thus relegating him to the prehistory of her own triumph.
And finally, she is holding France up to ridicule by demonstrating that one out of five voters relates to her half-witted programme, supported by a fetid party and incarnate in a candidate whose entourage is still often made up of the same old faces of the radical right, of the former fascist student group, GUD, of this negationist groupuscule or that gang, led by Gollnisch or by Mégret.
History will decide who is responsible for this shame, this disaster.
It will count up the slate of irresponsibilities of a right that allowed the space separating it from the extreme right (the "Buisson strategy") to crumble, of a left whose radical wing (whether Mélenchon likes it or not), with its populism, has fed this worsening spiral rather than curbing it. And it will designate our own, simple voters, who, by confusing Politics with Showtime, the presidential election with American Idol, the arbitration of the true and the false with a performance whose goal is no longer sound thoughts but to be "good," to rack up "points," or to "gain in the polls," end up no longer capable of distinguishing between what is part of a necessary debate and what breaks the taboos that are its components.
For the time being, we must recognize certain things.
A force has been born whose ambition it is to break the "right above" and to fight with the "elite left" over the "people of the peasants, workers, and modest civil servants."
A tone has come to the fore that, without even mentioning the xenophobia, the racism, the antisemitism expressed whenever these people let themselves go, is of such vulgarity, such hatred, such social and rhetorical violence that, if we do not put a stop to it, it will gradually destroy the entirety of the public space.
And the fact is that the traditional French parties, this Sunday, seem a thousand miles away from perceiving the mortal danger the emergence of this tone represents, for them and for us.
So the leading lights of the UMP fall all over themselves, as soon as it's 8:00 p.m., to remind the FN voters that Madame Le Pen "does not own their votes."
And some socialists go one better by pointing out that these men and women voting, in all conscience, for a candidate advised by quasi-Nazis (and not just when she is waltzing in Vienna!) are "French citizens like the rest of us," simply "blinded" by the social "malaise."
And no one, with the notable exception of centrist François Bayrou, is there to call a spade a spade and to see that this 18 percent represents a danger for the Republic.
Remember when Pierre Mendès-France, during his 1954 inauguration as President of the Council of Ministers, had the courage to tell the communists tempted to support him that he did not want their votes?
Such a position is, naturally, untenable in the context of a presidential election with direct universal suffrage.
But one dreams of candidates who, in the anticipated hand-to-hand combat, would spare us the spectacle of their indecent fishing for votes.
One dreams of a duel that is clean, where each one will fight hard, from the foundation of his own values and his plan for society, but without, for all that, competing in terms of clever tricks, the better to grab his part of the Lepenist electoral stash.
Otherwise put, one dreams of an "anti-pick up" that, far from the idiot theory one senses is returning, about the "bad answers" the FN has provided to the "good questions," would tell those who, in all conscience, have cast their votes for the candidate of a party that is not, indeed, like the others: "There will be no answer to the question you are asking as long as it is drowned in the extremist jargon of said party."
Not, of course, "don't come," but "you're not welcome."
Not, "you who voted for Le Pen in the first round, stay home, abstain, vote blank in the second tour," but "come if you like -- except that you'll find nothing in my discourse that will be a concession to the sect you come from, where the pinnacle of debate (cf. the henceforth indispensable book, Marine Le Pen démasquée, by Caroline Fourest and Fiammetta Venner) seems to be one between the denouncers of the "Islamisation" of France and those of its "Zionisation."
Implicit or explicit, this pact would be the solution of decency and dignity.
And it would be the only manner, for Hollande and Sarkozy, to avert the immediate dangers (how many triangular ones, if we cede here, in the legislative elections coming up?) and those more distant (a corruption of the public spirit unprecedented since the 1930s).
Everything must be done -- and it is possible -- to prevent Marine Le Pen from becoming the arbiter of the second round.