By Marcelle Meyer
Over the past year, the world has buzzed with discussion of the rise of right-wing populism, stretching from the United States and across much of Europe. Brexit, followed by Donald Trump’s election and the rising popularity of figures like Marine Le Pen, signal a strong international movement toward a form of populism that champions nationalism and rests heavily on giving a voice to the “common man.” Anti-immigration, national sovereignty, and protectionist economic policy have become progressively more appealing to populations that feel that they are losing jobs and safety in the name of global cooperation.
The rise of right-wing populism was a well-orchestrated political phenomenon. It is also its own demise.
The recent failure of the American Health Care Act has undoubtedly crippled Republican efforts to overhaul the Affordable Care Act as well as future reforms, like tax restructuring and approval of the President’s Supreme Court nominee. Paul Ryan, President Trump and Republicans who supported the bill are all facing the backlash of its very public defeat. However, this is not the only thing ruining the Republican reputation this year, and America is not the only country feeling the negative effects of right-wing populist movements.
It is no secret in America that the Republican Party is divided on many fronts, with many Republican congressmen declaring opposition to actions taken by leadership. Additionally, other places that have embraced a form of right-wing populism are experiencing their own political downturn, as the global community looks skeptically on a British removal from the European Union that is expected to severely harm Britain economically and further divide the ironically named United Kingdom, where Scotland voted to stay in the Union. What happens now?
The rise of right-wing populism is the rise of voices that feel they have not been heard; it has given a voice to those who have long thought that the establishment had pushed them out of the process. It was an opportunity for many usually less-politically active people to come forward. The election of Donald Trump alone suggests this. But the same thing that brought this movement together is destined to tear it down, as the policies they once advocated for turn into everything that the party advocated against—money and jobs taken from blue-collar workers, politicians with conflicts of interest and corrupt political ties, and a lagging economy because of inevitable retaliatory tariffs.
Regardless of political affiliation or beliefs, there is undoubtedly a strong political voice that brought modern American politics to the place they are today. That same strong political voice can only become more disillusioned and disappointed as the champions of their values fall on opposing side of the issue. It will not be long before the same ideas that created Donald Trump and Marine Le Pen bring them back into the political shadows.