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The rise of extremist leaders: Not just a U.S. problem

By Andry Switzer, Guest Columnist

Donald Trump has said some unnerving things.

"Mr. Ebola could sort that out in three months."

"It's time to tally up people of Jewish ancestry who live here ..."

Thankfully, these are not some of them.

The first is a quote by Jean Marie Le Pen, the founder of the French National Front Party, speaking about how Ebola could be employed to reduce the influx of migrants into Europe. The second is by Marton Gyongyosi, a senior official in Hungary's Jobbik party, speaking on the necessity of keeping Hungary's Jewish population under surveillance.


The point of bringing up these quotes is not to say extreme nationalism exists just as much in Europe as it does in the United States. The point is to reaffirm to voters who are just as afraid of Donald Trump as I am that the problem facing our country is not unique to the United States alone. The world has faced "Trump-ish" problems before, and the world will continue to face "Trump-ish" problems in the future.

Neither of the politicians addressed above were presidents, but corruption still does exist at the top. What about Joseph Estrada, Slobodan Milosevic, Silvio Berlusconi or Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva? These men assumed the presidencies of the Philippines, Yugoslavia and Serbia, Italy and Brazil, respectively. They are not exactly household names, but their abuses of presidential prerogatives and harsh rhetoric toward opposition are nonetheless frightening.

Donald Trump, however, would be a household name. He already is. And he is because he is running for president of the country that is capable of doing the most good in the world.

A "Trump-ish" leader can, unfortunately, happen anywhere. But it shouldn't happen here. The country capable of doing the most good in the world should be held to a higher standard.

With that in mind, it is important not to cower in indignancy or fall victim to questioning how Donald Trump was ever able to gain the momentum that propelled him to prominence. His rise is not unique enough to lament, but his election certainly would be.

But Trump's rise, however, is just that - only a rise. It has shed light on divisions that are real within our country. People are angry and upset, and Trump is offering them relief, albeit relief that amounts to empty promises.

I do feel embarrassed about Donald Trump, but this is no reason to feel regret over his rise. He has run a very efficient campaign, and many of his voters are steadfast in their commitment to assuring he assumes the presidency.

But the general election is still eight months away. Opposition to Trump can grow, has grown and should continue to grow.

Ohio is holding its presidential primary today. This would be a great time for that opposition to continue to manifest itself.