zoom RSS 米大統領選 政治不信が招く非主流派躍進

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The Yomiuri Shimbun
Outsider candidates dominate U.S. presidential race amid public distrust
米大統領選 政治不信が招く非主流派躍進

Candidates outside the mainstream who are rebelling against the establishment have been gaining ground in the race for the Democratic and Republican nominations for president of the United States. The final election will be held in November.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a strongly left-wing, self-described “democratic socialist,” won the Democratic Party’s primary in New Hampshire over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This marked a difficult start for Clinton, the favored candidate for the party’s nomination, despite her narrow win in the Iowa caucuses.

Real estate tycoon Donald Trump, who has no prior political career, emerged victorious in the Republican Party’s primary in New Hampshire. In Iowa, Trump placed second behind Ted Cruz, a nonmainstream conservative hard-liner.

Indecisive politics continue due to partisan confrontation in Washington. The decline of American influence in the international community is evident. The emergence of these nonmainstream candidates, it may be said, reflects the people’s distrust of and discontent with such developments.

If candidates prevail in early-stage primaries that draw significant media attention, they will be able to gather more campaign funds and support due to the psychological effect of jumping on the bandwagon. The whirlwind set off by the candidates who are standing outside the center of politics will not cease for some time.

Conservatives and liberals have become further polarized under the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama. No national consensus can be found regarding the reform of the medical insurance system, the strengthening of gun control and the process for accepting immigrants.

National consensus illusive

The standard of living for middle- and low-income earners has not improved as their job opportunities decreased due to the transfer of factories to China and other countries, as well as the inflow of immigrants. A sense of unfairness toward the rich has spread among the people.

Of concern is the emergence of a populism that serves to incite amid such a deadlock.

Trump has called for “making America great again” and openly expressed his hostile feelings toward China and Mexico, among other countries. He has even gone so far as to argue for forcible deportation of illegal immigrants and an entry ban on Muslims. Trump is also opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade framework and is calling for huge tax cuts.

Sanders, a champion of “antiestablishment” policies whose signature campaign promise is the correction of economic inequality, has obtained overwhelming support from the young and other voters by proposing to make tuition free at public universities, and dissolve major financial institutions.

But the campaign promises of Trump and Sanders are nothing but extreme arguments with little chance of being realized.

It is hard to understand why Clinton, who had pushed for the TPP pact as a member of the Obama administration, has changed tack to oppose it. Even if it is a temporary strategy for the campaign, we are left with the undeniable impression that she has been drawn into a swirl of populism.

If the candidates only deny the existing political and economic systems and compete to make radical and inward-looking arguments, neither national reconciliation nor the recovery of America’s credibility can be realized. We want to see constructive debate that will contribute to repairing social rifts.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 12, 2016)

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