SANTIAGO -- The American presidential campaign is in full swing, and has grown increasingly intense as the weeks go by. For those Latin Americans following the process closely, the campaign triggers a real sense of déjà vu. Not because this contest resembles past elections in the United States, but because it recalls the dangerous ideology-driven politics that were once so commonplace in Latin America. Never before have politics been so rough, so hate-driven, observers in Washington have remarked.
For the first time in the history of the U.S. Congress, the most liberal representative of the Republican Party is more conservative than the most right-wing Democrat. The result is a political system that appears headed toward a new era that is both uncertain and unstable. The radicalization of the Republicans, a process thats being fed by fanatical conservatives in the media, is giving rise to words and actions that are simply uncompromising.
So far the response from the other side of the political spectrum has been slow, tepid and even incredulous. The appearance of Occupy Wall Street, however, shows that those whove been ridiculed by the right as being soft, cowardly and socialist can also be driven toward a more radical position. This, in turn, accentuates a polarization that is making the country ungovernable.
For years Americans feared the Latinamericanization of their country, as immigrants from the Spanish-speaking south moved to the United States in droves. But those immigrants embraced the values of the country that received them. Whats paradoxical is that that the real Latinamericanization taking place in the United States has to do with how its political elites are making a dangerous and harmful turn toward the kind of ideological fanaticism that used to dominate politics south of the Rio Grande.
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