Radicalism in the United States

Radical Movements in the America – from KKK to Bernie Sanders

Radicalism has always been an inseparable part of the American society and culture. When we talk about radicalism in the United States, people automatically think of right-wing racists movements such as the notorious Ku Klux Klan. However, left-wing radicals have also had their say in America’s recent history. In fact, some of the most important changes that occurred in American society (e.g. equal rights to females, the end of slavery) started from radical and unconventional ideologies.

 Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders

In 2016 elections, Bernie Sanders represented a new wave of radicalism in American politics. Socio-economic inequality came to the fore in the most explicit way. It was probably the first time that a social democrat was running for presidency. Sanders’ surprising popularity among voters at the ages of 18-24 may indicate a growing opposition to traditional capitalism in America.

There is a direct connection between the growing support for socialism in the country and other “radical ideas” such as the struggle against police maltreatment of Afro-American or movements fighting against the deportation of immigrants.

Donald Trump is the manifestation of radical thought. Although his world view is far from that of American social democracy, we can say for certain that he is not a hardcore conservative and surely does not represent the mainstream thought of the Republican Party. He comes with his own set of values and beliefs, some of which are unpalatable to the most extreme rightists.

A lesson to learn

We have to remember that changes come slowly; that is a lesson that all American radical movements learned. It took more than 100 years for Abolitionism in the United States to accomplish the goal of ending slavery. The women’s suffrage movement began in the middle of the 19th century. Women voted only after 1920 thanks to the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It takes time till radical ideas are socially internalized and become a part of our mainstream thought.

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