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As the US presidential campaigns enter their final phase, we are delighted to welcome two expert observers and analysts David Runciman and Hitoshi Tanaka to join Japan Society chairman Bill Emmott to discuss the future of democracy in the USA and what this means for its allies, in particular the UK and Japan.
The United States can claim to be the oldest constitutional democracy in the world, at least among large countries, and in the postwar years has claimed, as President Ronald Reagan said, to be “a beacon on the hill”. Since 2000, with presidential elections being won by losers in the popular vote, with an increasingly polarised and bitterly fought-out politics, with campaign finance limits struck down by the Supreme Court, with candidates claiming “the system is rigged”, with renewed efforts at voter suppression, and with the Trump administration’s assault on previous conventions, the claim looks more and more threadbare. When members of a militia group are arrested for plotting to kidnap the Governor of Michigan, and other militias are on the rise across the country, can even America’s stability be taken for granted?
Regardless of the outcome of November’s election, what is the real state of US democracy, and how might it look in four years’ time? What could a new administration and new Congress, if they are elected, be expected to do to repair damage done? What are the implications for the UK and Japan, two of its staunchest allies, and what impact will changes in the United States have on our own systems and policies?
Professor David Runciman is professor of politics in the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge, and its head from 2014-2018. His research interests are twentieth century political thought, particularly ideas of democracy and crisis, and the role of technology in contemporary politics. He hosts the weekly Talking Politics podcast, and is the author of the influential The Confidence Trap: A History of Democracy in Crisis from World War I to the Present (Princeton University Press, 2014) with his most recent book being How Democracy Ends (Profile Books, 2019)
Hitoshi Tanaka is the chairman of the Institute for International Strategy at the Japan Research Institute, Ltd. since 2010 and a senior fellow at the nongovernmental Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE). Prior to joining JCIE in September 2005, he served for three years as Japan's Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs where he was a top advisor to Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on a broad range of issues, including relations with North Korea, China, Russia and the United States. His publications include 日本外交の挑戦 [The Challenges for Japan's Diplomacy] (Kadokawa Shoten, 2015), Reimagining Japan (McKinsey, 2011), and プロフェッショナルの交渉力 [The Logic of Strategic Negotiation] (Kodansha Ltd, 2009).
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