Populism and populist leaders have been rising in popularity across the nation to the surprise of many people around the world. Those who have studied right-wing movements, such as guest lecturer Dr. Reinhard Heinisch, have come to understand that no country is immune to populism; no matter its development or its history, its susceptibility does not change. Populism calls into question the principles of liberal democracy and works to break rules in the mainstream. Associated with ideas of nationalism, and nativism, it champions “forgotten/ignored people” of a certain state. Different parties have different contexts that bring in different ideas that may include nativism, ethnocentrism, racism, antisemitism, religiocentrism, heterocentrism, islamophobia, anti-EU, and other forms of discrimination that inspire ideas focusing on a certain “right people” and blaming a scapegoat.
The lecture was eye opening to the news I have been hearing about elections in Europe. While I feel that I would have gotten more out of the lecture if I had more prior knowledge on current events, it was easy to relate the subject to our own domestic issues in the United States surrounded the controversial President Donald Trump. The rise of populism really capitalizes on the great divide that we see in world perspectives today. It is so easy to surround yourself with like-minded people and not understand those with different opinions. So many issues such as climate change, have become so bipartisan because of this. I believe that compromise is what we should strive for in the future. How this can be achieved and how quickly, I have no idea. I do not believe that populism is a movement that will quickly diminish. By what we have seen in the world, and the strength of these parties, I believe that this is something that needs to be checked, understood, and we desperately need to find a true compromise.