Extremism in politics takes a world stage


While Donald Trump has been consistently making headlines with his promises of conservative reform to the U.S. government, countries around the world have also been reeling from the effects of extremism in politics.

Most notably, Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, has been infamously leading his country in a sort of civil war against drug dealers and users. Since taking office last June, over 6,000 people have been killed by police operations and vigilante citizens.

At a press conference last month, Duterte professed that he’ll continue the campaign despite criticism within and outside the country.

“My campaign on drugs will not end until the end of my term six years from now when every drug pusher is [killed],” he said, following the statement with a throat cutting gesture.

Not only does Duterte support the killings of drug dealers and users in society, he’s also stood by his claim that he himself murdered up to three suspects in a hostage case while mayor of Davao City.

This particular example of extremist leadership, although likely the harshest instance in the world, is not even close to the only one. In the Netherlands, conservative politician Geert Wilders represents the rising xenophobia in Europe generated by the refugee crisis in the Middle East. Comparing Mosques to Nazi Temples, the Quran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and promising to “De-Islamise” Holland, Wilders has been living up to his nickname of “The Dutch Trump.”

Nearby in France, the National Front party, a conservative, populist party with a past of xenophobia and anti-Semitism, is on the rise. Its leading candidate in this year’s Presidential race is Marine Le Pen, who is trying to distance herself from her party’s past, but is still relatively anti-Islam, anti-immigration, and anti-European Union.

While frustrating and seemingly unbelievable to liberal voters and politicians, this worldwide rise of conservative extremism has roots in the very ideas liberals stand by. Extremist conservatives cite their views, which are often criticized as radical and offensive, as a response to liberal dominance in politics.

The most precise example of this is the Tea Party in the United States. While President Obama’s time in office resulted in a dominant liberal presence in the U.S. government, conservatives were almost forced to radicalize their views in order to gain more solid momentum. Since moderate views can often be too weak to work, an extremist position from the Tea Party and other conservative groups in the U.S. paved much of the way for Donald Trump’s presidency.

This fact rings true around the world: if conservatives feel silenced by liberal pressures in politics, then eventually, the only feasible response will be extremism of their values.