Nationalism is not dead
Letter to the Editor | Friday, November 18, 2016
On Nov. 8, the American people took to the polls to let their voices be heard in our most vocal of democratic processes. And vocal they sure were. Donald Trump won in a surprising upset when compared to the polling data that had him losing handily. If the pundits and news sources were to be believed, Hillary Clinton was to be our new president and there wasn’t a chance that Trump would come even close. Well, so much for that. I am not here to tell you what we did right or wrong, but rather I want to write about what this election decision means in the context of the world at large. More specifically, I think this election going for Trump finally affirms something that I have been thinking about global politics since March 16, 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. Once again, there is a wave of populist nationalism spreading across the world, and we in the United States can no longer say we are immune to it.
The signs of this wave are out there longing to be seen if we just take the time to find them. First, as I have mentioned already, we had Crimea. Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, proved in an illegal annexation that the revanchist desire to restore Soviet Union borders is indeed still alive. Russia isn’t alone; recent German local elections had an increase in Neo-Nazi voting blocs, threatening to increase representation in the German legislature. The United Kingdom just had its Brexit referendum, led by another nationalist group, that won the vote. This was made possible due to an intense turnout in rural precincts, just as Trump was able to do. Finally, in France, Marine Le Pen threatens to usher in another nationalistic coalition into French governance next year.
If you still think the popular, populist message of nationalism is still dead in the world, look again. It is all around us, and with the prospect of another casualty to its ideological grip happening here in the United States, it is time for us to open our eyes. Watching the election coverage, I couldn’t help but look back to history, when in 1933, in order to appease growing nationalist sentiment, President Paul von Hindenburg made Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany. Is this an attempt to tie Adolf Hitler to Donald Trump? No, in fact I think Donald Trump offers some tangible benefits to our nation, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t approach this new regime with caution. Just because an election is over and a winner decided, it doesn’t mean we allow those winners to disestablish the country we have spent over 200 years building.
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The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.