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October 5, 2016

The Status of the Presidential Campaign ―Consummation of the Ailing of the US Democracy

For me, a Japanese, it is painful to watch the on-going presidential campaign in the US; the foundation of the democracy, which is the very source of US power abroad, is seriously damaged.

Hillary Clinton tries too much to cater to "all" forces in the society, the middle class, minorities, LGBT, religious movements and so on and so forth. But the US society is one of the largest puzzles in the world, which cannot be solved by one policy. This deprives her speeches of power and candor. And she does not have charisma enough to make up for it.

Another dilemma of her is that she receives large chunk of political funding from the Wall Street, which makes her difficult to propose effective economic policy. For example if she wants to prevent another financial collapse, anti-speculation measures should be strengthened, and if she wants to ensure more rights for the middle class, she would have to curb the excessive greed in the financial sector; all go against the interest of the Wall Street.

Because of this dilemma Clinton lost the support of the "have-not" white people, who either support Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. Now we have an odd picture in which Clinton is a "republican" candidate from the Democrats and Trump is a "democratic (populist)" candidate from the Republicans.

Donald Trump is an extraordinary candidate. Saying that he will make the US great again, he destroys the very foundation of the US greatness. We foreigners admire the US not because of its military power but because of its robust democracy and presence of conditions for minorities and new-comers.

Trump's words are not so much about positive values as about negative emotions like anger and hatred. His words work well on the minds of the people who suffer in the wake of the Lehman Brothers financial crisis. Those people easily agree with his allegation that the "establishment" is to blame for everything, and that Trump is a savior-outsider. The more he gets criticized by the establishment (I include the media), the more he becomes a hero.

In order to prevent a deadly collapse of the American democracy one has to address the causes in depth of the current quagmire. The first is about economy. One has to cure the most fundamental reason of the current woes of the US economy.

Protectionism, closure of the market for foreign commodities, would not be a right remedy, because in today's economy manufacturing industry does not need large number of workers and the majority of jobs are created around "how to use things as platform of making profit". Apple does not "produce" iPad and iPhone in the US, but these new devices have sustained several hundreds of thousand jobs in development of super gadgets, production of applications and distribution.

Another important task for the US society would be revamping of democracy. We would have to address the following questions: is it reasonable to keep depending upon one-sole-leader-model for governing today's highly complex and often multi-national society? Is "state" still needed for today's developed society? Are we not sticking too much to the West European state model developed in the 18th century, when the state mechanism was used to collect tax and to build large armed forces?

The US has the longest history in the world as a democratic republican state. It has the right to adjust the system to prevent populism and demagogy from replacing democracy. Just imagine that the US has just now acquired independence from Great Britain. What kind of constitution would the Founding Fathers work out for today's US?

I as a Japanese on-looker do hope that the new American president will make the world more cooperative and cohesive instead of dividing it.


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