Trump’s Overwhelming Victory: Has Democracy Become Obsolete in the United States?

Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s return to power has been moving closer to reality. The U.S. presidential election in November is more important than ever in terms of determining the course of U.S. democracy and international order.

Trump has solidified his position as the sole contender in the race for the Republican Party’s nomination for the presidential election. He won a convincing victory on “Super Tuesday,” a day when a number of primary elections and caucuses are held, and significantly widened the gap between himself and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

Trump has not admitted to his defeat in the previous presidential election. Although he is being criminally prosecuted in four cases, including the occupation of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters, he has claimed political persecution by the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden, and has publicly stated he will retaliate if he returns to the presidency.

Respect for election results, the peaceful transition of power and the rule of law are the very foundation of democratic politics. However, Trump behaves in a way that denies these principles, and sees all forces that oppose him as his enemies.

There is no doubt that public dissatisfaction over immigration issues and high prices is the driving force behind Trump’s popularity. Even if there are policy problems, Trump’s method of inflaming voters’ anger by unilaterally assigning everything to the failures of the current administration in an attempt to expand his support lacks fairness.

Many of his Republican rivals, perhaps fearing backlash from Trump’s enthusiastic supporters, have avoided fighting him and withdrawn from the campaign. For his part, Trump has avoided debates with the other candidates and there were almost no policy discussions.

This presidential election seems to indicate that U.S. democracy itself is in crisis. If Trump’s trials result in a guilty verdict, the turmoil will inevitably further increase.

Trump’s influence has also extended to international politics. In response to Trump’s assertions, many Republican members of the House of Representatives have refused to approve a budget for additional military assistance to Ukraine, and U.S. aid is tapering off.

There is a wide gap between Trump, who is negative about international cooperation and alliances, and Biden, who believes the United States has a responsibility to protect international order. U.S. voters also appear to be split down the middle.

If the presidential election once again becomes a showdown between Biden and Trump, division among the people and political instability will continue, regardless of who wins.

The image of the United States, which has led the world by championing democracy and international contributions, is fading away. Japan, Europe and other advanced nations will have to play a greater role. Japan needs to start considering what it can do from now on.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 7, 2024)