Columnists’ opinions are their own and may not necessarily represent the views of The Chronicle.
When talking about the wars in America’s past, my AP US History teacher would always tell the class that the next war was coming. He would always say it in a joking tone, but as the year went on and the political heat around the world began to build more and more, the joke began to weigh heavier on my heart.
One of the biggest dangers occurring in the US is the decline of the moderate mindset. Being a moderate is becoming more and more rare in this country as many people turn to the extreme sides of the two political parties. In a study posted by the Pew Research Center, 37% of Republicans are consistently conservative and 36% of Democrats are consistently liberal. This might not seem like a lot, but the number has grown significantly since 1994 when those statistics were at 23% and 21%. If we start to lose the moderate mindset, the turn towards only extreme political stances will be much more likely.
Another big problem contributing to the political atmosphere present in our world right now is the rise in nationalism. Nationalism is being dedicated and loyal to one’s own country; being “patriotic”. However, as seen in any political stance, there is an extreme side to nationalism. Extreme forms of nationalism are often marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries, leading to policies creating separatism by and within countries.
When I wake up and see on the news people marching for what the country was 157 years ago, see the head of our country lightly calling another leader “Rocket Man”, and hear people blatantly saying that they “want World War III so (we) can kill all of those non-Americans”, it sends a chill down my spine. It feels as if history is plainly repeating itself and none of the people in charge can see it.
Before both World War I and World War II, there was a noticeable rise in Nationalism around the world. For WWI these feelings of nationalism were present in most European countries involved including Germany, Austria-Hungary, Great Britain, and France. A better known example of the rise in nationalism was the rise of the Nazi party in Germany before WWII. Nationalism was a big reason behind many Germans joining the party.
In both of these cases, populations began to think that their countries were better and more advanced than others. In the case of WWII, these beliefs ended up becoming turned towards specific groups within Germany, resulting in the murder of 6,000,000 people of one group alone.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be patriotic or love your country. But being so excessively patriotic that you begin to view your country above all others and start to become ignorant of what’s reality and what’s really taking place around the world, that’s when things start to get dangerous.
Whenever a majority starts to form opinions of superiority over other countries, only bad things can follow. These intense conflicts often come simultaneously with the rise in nationalism, countries often being at odds with one another. The men in big suits will start conflicts for the little men to fight and die, all to prove that one country is better than another.
After studying war and the point-blank causes of them, it’s starting to feel as if we are watching the next major conflict unravel in front of our eyes. Sometimes it’s worst being a teenager in this situation because I feel like there is little I can do. We are people in the position of living in a free world where our voices can be heard. This makes it all the more necessary to speak out as we see this rise in an extreme side of the nationalistic voice.
Statistics from Pew Research Center: