OPINION

The dangerous side of the USA

Europeans have always seen two Americas: one that they understand and feel familiar with and another that frightens them. The former is represented by New York and San Francisco, the two coasts, and the latter by the Bible Belt in the middle, the South, and other pockets seen as extremely conservative and reactionary.

It is the elite from the two coasts that has pulled the strings behind the leadership in the post-World War II years. It has given great importance to higher education, it opened up the country to the rest of the world and it understood the significance of being a quiet force. It didn?t really matter who served as president because a progressive status quo was at work in the background and the pendulum swung between an enlightened right and a liberal center-left (by American standards).

Over the past few years, however, this has all changed.

An extremely conservative and fanatical portion of the population has gained a political voice, with extremely dangerous consequences for the future of the superpower. These are people who we cannot really fathom, people who think that gun possession is an inalienable right and whose entire mind-set is forged through the Bible. These are people who support the most extreme elements in Israel because they believe this will precipitate the second coming of Christ.

For as long as these forces remained on the fringes of politics, the system worked. Now that they have acquired an ideological and political voice, it has hit a rut.

The Republican Party once was a champion of extroverted diplomacy and responsible fiscal management. Now it is hostage to lobbies that believe that raising taxes, even when it is so evidently necessary, is the devil?s work. If these forces are allowed to gain the upper hand, the United States will see its status among world powers plummet much faster than rationally anticipated. It is clear that if primitive and claustrophobic people gain control of the world?s most creative and mature superpower, its demise will be swift, and values that have prevailed across the world for the past 65 years will be demolished.

The only comfort is that America has experienced similar situations in the past and has been able to come out on top, such as by electing its first African American president after getting rid of the unconscionable George W. Bush.