Incendiary language by a presidential candidate invites divisiveness in U.S.
Primary elections were held in five U.S. states, including Florida, as candidates from the Republican and Democratic parties chase the nomination to contest the presidential election in November. More than 60 percent of Republican Party delegates have been decided. The party’s race has passed the halfway mark.
Real estate mogul Donald Trump maintained the lead for the Republican nomination. Hard-line conservative Sen. Ted Cruz remains behind in second place. While Trump has kept his dominance in the race, some forecasts suggest he will fall short of the majority of delegates needed to assure him the nomination. It is too early to tell what will happen.
Mainstream candidate Sen. Marco Rubio lost in his home state of Florida and announced his withdrawal from the race. John Kasich picked up his first victory in Ohio, where he is the governor. Some pundits believe “anti-Trump” votes flocked to him.
This likely reflected widening efforts among mainstream Republicans to cooperate to halt Trump’s momentum. They have been concerned by Trump’s frequent off-color remarks.
Some prominent figures responsible for policies within the Republican Party have even suggested a preference for former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is increasingly likely to be the Democratic nominee.
Disturbingly, violent incidents have been occurring at Trump’s rallies. As a black audience member who had criticized Trump was being led from a venue, he was punched by a white man in the crowd. Trump himself has ordered protesters to be removed, and lashed out with comments such as they “should have been roughed up.”
A Trump campaign rally was even canceled due to the impact of protest activities by African-Americans and Latinos.
Japan under fire
The main cause of these confrontations has been Trump’s “pledges,” which could be interpreted as racial discrimination. These include his call to deport all illegal immigrants living in the United States, and to ban all Muslims from entering the country.
There are a myriad of problems with Trump’s method of boosting his support by branding opposition forces as the enemy to stir up confrontation. People from a diverse variety of races, religions and beliefs coexist in the United States. His comments are fueling feuds between these groups and deepening divisiveness in U.S. society.
The senior leadership of the Republican Party bears a heavy responsibility for these developments. Within the party, a conservative hard-line element, which seeks to minimize the role of the government by largely reducing tax for the wealthy and cutting social security spending, is gaining strength. The mainstream element has been unable to stop this movement, and what is effectively a split inside the party has been left as it is.
By painting himself as an outsider, Trump has exploited this confusion and broadened his support among the moderate element of the party and political independents. He has suggested policies including limiting the scope of tax cuts for the wealthy to make his candidacy more acceptable to middle-income earners.
Regarding the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty, Trump has declared it is unfair that the pact unilaterally obliges the United States to defend Japan and also calls on Japan to accept more of the burden. On the North Korea’s nuclear issue, he stated Washington does not need to lead.
For Japan, Trump-mania cannot be simply overlooked.
(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 17, 2016)