Political extremism has taken the world by storm. We started it.

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By Vihaan Majumdar

January 6th, 2021. It’s a day that will live in infamy. It is the first time in over a hundred years that American democracy has truly been in danger. Thousands of supporters of former president Trump storm the Capitol building insinuating the false pretense that then-president-elect Joe Biden had been illegitimately elected, ransacking the place and horrifying a nation and the world. Ignore the effect this had on the country. This was an event heard around the world.

We’ve all heard of “the white man’s burden”, the belief among colonizers that it was their duty to impose European culture on the inhabitants of their colonies. Well we never acknowledge it, but the USA has a burden of its own, and that is to set an example, because love it or not, whatever we do, the world follows. We may love the influence. When President Trump won in 2016, 2018 saw a wave of conservative populists elected or reelected to their offices. Similarly, Trump’s loss in 2020 saw numerous other countries turn to more liberal options in 2022, and the wave of conservatives went as soon as they came and were replaced with a younger, more liberal, generation of politicians. Now this is not the only example. But it is a great one. The USA and China control the majority of the world’s economy, and with more countries choosing to ally with the US, we are probably the most powerful country in the world. So what do we do with all our power and influence? We make a fool of ourselves. The famous quote is“with great power comes great responsibility” (thanks Uncle Ben). Sadly, we have not been responsible. At all.

The Capitol Riot is one thing. The buildup and the response really show that the US is a sheer disappointment when it comes to how a country should function. Politicians and public figures latched on to the lies spread by the previous president because it earned them political points. Think about that for one second. Being a serial liar, threatening the foundations of the country as we know it, and his support is large and strong that other figures needed to agree with him to keep their jobs. Many more, I’m sure, legitimately believe the election was stolen. Then the mess after the riot. Some Republicans chose to go forward with their objections to the certification of the election. They prevented the creation of a bipartisan investigative committee, then did everything in their power to discredit the House Select Committee. Lies were repeated, conspiracies were spread, and leaders sat there with no shame whatsoever.

Our leaders’ lies have been emboldening others for so long. In 2017 there were sex traffickers who used Trump’s own words in an attempt to discredit a CNN report that revealed what they were doing.

Well, cut to it with the Brazil election, pretty much an exact repeat of the 2020 one. An old, well known liberal defeats a firebrand conservative in a fiery election that has polarized the nation. Guess what came after. A riot at a bunch of government buildings.

This country started this trend. All over the world we are seeing political extremists emboldened and taking direct, often violent action.
The US and its leaders are responsible. It’s time that we stop acting like we’re not.