The Donald Trump phenomenon, so utterly bewildering to those who have been following politics for decades, may appear unprecedented in U.S. history—unfortunately, it reflects something larger occurring on a global scale.
Trump, so thoroughly condemned and scrutinized by foreign countries, is not unique to America. While international leaders have been quick to denounce Trump as dangerous and bigoted, there is a noticeable lack of introspection; a similar situation is occurring in numerous countries, particularly within Western Europe.
There is a global rise of a right wing, gaining strength and momentum as millions continue to feel economically disadvantaged, unsure of how they arrived at such a position.
The most glaring example of this is the chaos in the United Kingdom—the fact that U.K. residents voted decisively in favor of leaving the European Union speaks to a xenophobia that has at least somewhat permeated the nation.
Nigel Farage, the leader of the Leave campaign, espoused rhetoric quite similar to Trump’s beliefs that have resonated with many white, working-class Americans.
“We literally have lost our sovereignty, lost our borders, lost our ability to regulate. The problem you’ve got in the U.S. is illegal immigration. Our problem is legal immigration to half a billion people,” Farage recently said, sounding alarmingly comparable to the language Trump favors.
Farage and the U.K. Independence Party’s popularity are not entirely unanticipated; during the past 20 years, over 5 million immigrants have settled in Britain as permanent residents. This is in comparison to the U.S.—the largest recipient of immigrants in the world—which has accrued approximately 11.3 million immigrants since 2000.
For a nation not originally built on immigrants, the U.K. inadvertently became a mixed cultural hub of its own; in response, its staunch nationalists felt the need to assert their independence once they experienced an economic downturn (that, in reality, was unrelated to immigration).
This shift in government power mirrors other countries such as Spain. During Spain’s most recent June elections, the conservative party (Partido Popular) emerged with a solid victory, while the socialist party (PSOE) ended up with “its worst electoral results since…1977.”
In an analogy to the U.S., the PP could be equivalent to the Republicans, the PSOE to the establishment Democrats led by Hillary Clinton, and the Unidos Podemos, a far-left wing group, to the progressives who rallied under Bernie Sanders.
“The results heighten the political crisis in Spain…[the newest coalition of parties] will be dedicated to imposing even more savage attacks against the working class,” the World Socialist Web Site wrote. The Irish Times noted that, “Conservativism in Spain has shown itself in these elections to remain significantly stronger than the forces for change.”
The right wing in Germany has become equally emphatic. According to The Huffington Post, there has been a 42 percent increase in violent, right-wing attacks after Germany brought in more than a million immigrants and migrants in the past year.
“Interior Minister Thomas De Maiziere said Germany was seeing a rise in both far-right and far-left extremism and a growing willingness among activists from both sides to use violence.
‘It is worrying that anti-immigration incitement is creeping into the heart of our society,’ he said.”
The discontent from both ends of the spectrum echoes both Trump supporters and progressives in the U.S. that have fought against an establishment candidate such as Clinton.
These acts of hostility occurring in Germany are similarly found in Britain and the U.S.—daily accounts of racism spewed toward immigrants, specifically Latinos and Muslims in America, are not just one country’s dilemma. This has become a global issue, a generational shift in mindset spurred on by leaders such as Trump and Farage.
Economic dissatisfaction is at the heart of this issue. Those in the working class increasingly feel that they are being left behind, and the easiest solution is to attribute this to the increase of immigrants in any given nation, a strategy Trump and his counterparts have perfected.
The left has also fueled a movement with a very different solution to the same problem, pushing for systemic, governmental change. Unfortunately, while the right has clearly gained traction, the left has been unable to do so, likely because its solution involves a long, uphill battle that cannot quickly remedy the inherent problems.
For Americans, it’s not just Trump we should be concerned about: It is more worrisome that he is simply part of a global rise in right-wing ideology that appears to be gaining power and influence in various countries.
Trump’s ideas must be fought not just locally, but internationally—Brexit has proven how far right-wing extremists are willing to go.
Banner Image Credit: Twitter,@TheRoot