Political and Social Divide in the United States and Challenges for Democracy

Kazuhiro Maeshima


It has been over two and a half years since the Biden administration took office on January 20, 2021. Although the Democrats fared better than expected in midterm elections last November, the divide of American society is unlikely to be overcome. The United States is encountering many difficulties in the international scene, such as the Ukraine war and tensions in the Taiwan Strait. The impact on diplomacy and the global order of the political and social divide in the hegemonic United States is immeasurable.

This paper first discusses the political polarization that is the divide of American society. Then, it provides an outlook for possible trends and changes in policy management that this polarization will bring about.

Political Polarization

Political polarization refers to the phenomenon in which public opinion is widely divided between two ideologies, conservatism and liberalism. Characteristically, conservatives and liberals are not only segregated, but they are also gradually strengthening their consolidation (ideological convergence) within each camp. As a result, conservatives are increasingly supporting the Republican Party, while liberals are monolithically united in their support for the Democratic Party. Political polarization has been gradually proceeding over the past 40 years and, in the last few years, has struck a symmetric left-right balance between the two camps.

One of the foremost reasons for the polarization is the shift toward a society more receptive to multiculturalism in the 1960s and 1970s. Multiculturalist movements include the racial integration policies represented by the civil rights movement in the 1960s; the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) movement from the 1970s to 1980s; the movement in defense of women's abortion rights (the pro-choice movement) from the 1960s to the present; and the recognition of same-sex marriage since 1990. While a certain number of citizens have been willing to support these issues that strongly reflect the social-liberal line, there has been a harsher reactionary backlash from conservatives. Furthermore, public opinion is also widely divided on the issue of the welfare state under a strong government leadership based on income redistribution (the economic-liberal line), which has lasted since the New Deal policies around World War II. Whereas liberals eagerly support it, conservatives strongly oppose it; an increasing number of citizens seek the "small government" that has obtained popular support since the "Reagan Revolution."

With these changes in public opinion as background, support for political parties has changed since the late 1970s. This move toward party realignment coincided with political polarization. The South had been a Democratic stronghold since before the Civil War. Even within the Democratic Party, conservative-leaning members were found in the South, forming a conservative group known as "Southern Democrats" distinct from the liberal Democrats in the East. Since the 1980s, however, the Republican Party, which had come to close terms join forces with Christian conservatives, won over conservative public opinion in the South, increased its congressional seats, and dominated state governments. In this way, the Republicanization of the South, replacing the "Southern Democrats," proceeded apace. As the moderate Republicans in the East gradually retired, the political landscape divided between "Democrats = liberals = Based in the Northeast and California" and "Republicans = conservatives = Based in the Midwest and the South."

In addition to the rise of multiculturalism, many other elements account for polarization. Among them is the redistricting of constituencies for the House of Representatives elections. The political party with the majority in each state legislature is responsible for redistricting based on the census taken every ten years. Unfortunately, in many cases, this party may skew the allocation of electoral districts in their favor. When constituencies are gerrymandered, lawmakers with similar political beliefs are grouped, which can contribute to a rise in political polarization.

The Continued Divided Government

To begin with, however, even if the conflict between the Democratic and Republican parties intensifies, if either of them dominates, everything should proceed smoothly from the passage of legislation to policy management.

When one party has a majority in the House and Senate and the president also comes from that party, this is called a "unified government." Furthermore, if that party wins 60 or more seats in the Senate to prevent a filibuster by the opposition, it will gain an additional advantage.

The past 40 years of polarization coincide with a period in which "divided government" became the norm, in which the president's party and the majority party in either the House or the Senate are not the same. Some argued that the reason for the continued divided government was the practice of split-ticket voting to eliminate the harms of partisanship, in which some congressional districts chose a presidential candidate and a congressional candidate each from different parties so that neither party could gain an advantage. However, since the recent polarization between the two neck-and-neck parties has made it hard for either party to secure an overwhelming advantage, the president's party and the congressional majority party, as a result, may happen to be different in many governments.

This type of divided government, in which the president's party and the majority party in the House or Senate are different, has appeared frequently in US history. What is different from the past, however, is that while the current political polarization has alienated Democrats and Republicans, they are in such tight rivalry that it is hard for them to compromise across party lines in Congress. Therefore, under a divided government, deliberations in Congress always come to a halt. The combination of political polarization and the continued divided government intensifies the confrontation between the two parties. Legislation makes no progress, leading to "gridlock in policy formulation." Likewise, in Japan, a "twisted Diet," where different political parties dominate each of the two houses, often causes significant delays in the passing of legislation and policy management. A divided government in the United States complicates the situation more than in Japan because it involves the two houses and the president.

Uncompromising Politics Brought about by Strong Intra-Party Cohesion

What is more troublesome in this connection is that concurrently with the polarization of Congress between Democrats and Republicans or left and right, intra-party cohesion has become intense. Since the US partisan confrontation is similar in appearance to the parliamentary party system in Japan and other countries, it may help to imagine it by summing up, "In the United States, too, the party conflict between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party intensifies; the two sides are now locked in a close rivalry." What should be noted here, however, is that, as mentioned above, American political parties are characterized by their openness and loose party discipline, but their nature is changing due to political polarization. For example, their once-weak party discipline has gradually become strong: until the 1970s, a little over 50% of Democratic or Republican legislators were united in voting for or against major legislation in Congress. Conversely, half of the Republican or Democratic members voted the same as their rival party members. The party unity vote rate has risen to over 90% in these years. This mounting peer pressure within the parties has never existed in the once-moderate American political parties. American political culture is gradually becoming similar to countries with parliamentary systems like Europe and Japan.

In recent years, the relatively close number of congressional seats occupied by Democrats and Republicans has brought about a situation in which the two parties clash so violently that they could not concede at all. It now seems fanciful that Democrats and Republicans tended to follow a center-right line, and compromise between the two parties was relatively easy.

With no compromise made, Congress stalls. The number of bills enacted into public law has also significantly declined over the past few years. The enacted bills numbered only 283 in the 112th Congress (January 2011-January 2013) and 296 in the 113th Congress (January 2013-January 2015) during the divided government of the Obama administration; these figures are the worst and the second worst since the Civil War. The 114th Congress (January 2015 to January 2017) during the last two years of the Obama administration passed 329 bills, but less than 460 in the 110th Congress (January 2007 to January 2009) in the penultimate two years of the G. W. Bush administration, also under a divided government.

In the 115th Congress (January 2017 to January 2019) during the unified government in the first two years of the Trump administration, the number of bills enacted into public law increased to 442, whereas in the 116th Congress (January 2019 to January 2021) under the divided government of the same administration, the enacted bills decreased to 344. The 117th Congress (January 2021 to January 2023) under the unified government in the first two years of the Biden administration passed merely 362 bills because the difference in the number of congressional seats held by the two parties was slight. 1

"Divided Government plus Narrow Party Margins" amid Political Polarization

As of summer 2023, the US political situation is chaotic due to "divided government and narrow party margins" amid political polarization. The current divided government with different majorities in the upper and lower houses will continue until January 2025, when the results of the presidential and congressional elections in the fall of 2024 will be put into effect. Due to this situation, any domestic policies involving major changes will not be implemented, resulting in political stagnation.

Given the composition of the current 118th Congress (January 2023 to January 2025) based on the results of last year's midterm elections, political stagnation is evident. While Democrats maintained the majority in the Senate with 51 seats (including three Independents), the Republicans won a close victory in the House of Representatives (222 Republicans and 213 Democrats) and regained the majority.

In the previous 117th Congress (January 2021 to January 2023), Democrats gained the majority in both the House and Senate by a narrow margin, and a "unified government" came into being, in which the president's party was the same as the majority party in the House and Senate. Yet, in the 118th Congress, the government has returned to a "divided government." For the two years leading up to the next congressional elections, Congress will be gridlocked; the policies that the Biden administration wants to promote, such as those related to income redistribution and climate change, will come to a halt. Only 12 bills became law between January and August 7, 2023. 2 Ordinarily, the number of passed bills increases after the first six months from the start of the session, but the number of bills passed to date is unprecedentedly small. Among them is the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, passed on June 3, to deal with the debt ceiling.

Another bill worth attention here is the "United States-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade First Agreement Implementation Act," which stipulates a new trade framework between the United States and Taiwan. It was enacted on August 7. The act aims to strengthen US-Taiwan relations in five areas: customs administration and trade facilitation, good regulatory practices, services domestic regulation, anti-corruption, and small and medium-sized enterprises. The act also requires sending a draft trade agreement to Congress. It is accompanied by a statement on signing by the President, "In cases where the requirements of section 7 of the Act would impermissibly infringe upon my constitutional authority to negotiate with a foreign partner, my Administration will treat them as non-binding." The Biden administration holds the position that "if legislation does not deal with tariff reductions, there is no need to amend domestic laws or obtain congressional approval." Republicans in Congress opposed it, insisting on the necessity of congressional approval because the US Constitution grants Congress the authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations.

The close battle in the Senate since the formation of the Biden administration has affected the vice president's assignments. In the previous 117th Congress, Democrats (including two Independents: Sanders and King) and Republicans were tied at 50 seats each. In the past two years, Democrats had a hard time in persuading Kyrsten Sinema (Arizona) and Joe Manchin (West Virginia), who hold a conservative position due in part to the peculiarities of their constituencies. In the event of a 50-50 tie on a bill, Vice President Harris, who serves as Senate president, must vote; this means that for this reason, she must always stay in Washington. In other words, Vice President Harris cannot plan trips abroad.

As a result of the midterm elections, Democrats gained one seat for a total of 51 seats in the Senate in the current 118th Congress. This situation was expected to ease the burden of Harris. But after the election results were finalized, Arizona Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, who had held a conservative position due to the peculiarities of her constituency, declared as an independent. Sinema, with her reelection in mind, was concerned that she could not win the 2024 Democratic primary because many Arizona voters wanted to remove Sinema from being a candidate. Having become an independent, she seems to have thought that she would have a better chance in a three-way race with a Republican and a Democratic candidate. As Sinema chose to cooperate with Democrats instead of Republicans, the number of Democrats in the Senate increased to 51. Yet, given Sinema's equivocal stance, the situation remains similar to one during the past two years. Unlike in Japan, there is no party discipline in Congress, but amid political polarization, Democrats can expect no support from Republicans as they could in the past. Consequently, although Democrats have become the majority party in the Senate, Vice President Harris will continue to be unable to be absent from Washington. The structural problem of the vice president's difficulty in traveling abroad has not changed at all.

From the Offensive to the Defensive on the Part of Republicans

In the House of Representatives, where Republicans have regained the majority, they take the offensive in many instances. They had been preparing to impeach President Biden and his cabinet members over presidential conflicts of interest related to Hunter Biden's business in Ukraine and China; the issue of illegal immigrants; and the poor withdrawal from Afghanistan. The US forces stationed in Afghanistan for 20 years withdrew in August 2021. President Biden's hasty decision led to chaos in Afghanistan; the Afghan capital, Kabul, fell to the hands of the Taliban. Republicans argue that the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was made by the previous Trump administration, but the Biden administration is responsible for the chaos brought about by the hasty withdrawal.

Presidential impeachment is a system to prosecute the president in the Senate on condition of the support of a majority in the House of Representatives. An impeachment appeal is possible if Republican representatives unite in the House. Yet, the impeachment would be sure to be blocked by the Senate, which conducts an impeachment trial. In the Senate, the support of two-thirds of Senators is a prerequisite to this end. However, there is no way that impeachment will pass the Senate, where both parties have 50 seats each. Nevertheless, the House Republican leadership attempts to use the impeachment of President Biden as a PR stunt for Republican supporters.

On Trump's Impeachment

In response to the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, Democrats in the House of Representatives led a strict pursuit in the previous 117th Congress. The House Select Committee on the Attack on the US Capitol held its final meeting on December 19, 2022, and recommended that former President Trump should be criminally prosecuted as the primary instigator of the riot for four charges, including inciting rebellion. But the pursuit in the 117th Congress ended there, and instead it is the Department of Justice that is preparing for the prosecution of Trump.

In the current 118th Congress, however, the tide is changing. Republicans deem this move by the Department of Justice to be "the Biden administration's weaponization of the judiciary," setting up a special committee. They oppose all the prosecutions against Trump: a prosecution by the State of New York in April 2023 for alleged violations of state law by hush money payments during the 2016 election; the DOJ's prosecution in June 2023 for allegedly handling classified documents; and a prosecution in early August 2023 for inciting an attack on Congress. At the time of each prosecution, support for Trump rose sharply in the Republican nomination race for the 2024 presidential election; donations for Trump also increased.

Furthermore, in mid-August, Trump was charged by the State of Georgia with "election meddling" by making phone calls to press state officials to "find" the votes needed to overturn the last Presidential election results. Yet, as of this writing, there is no sign that Trump's popularity will wane.

Why is Trump so popular? About 70% of Republican supporters still believe in Trump's "2020 election denial" that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Trump by Democrats through fraud. According to a July 2023 CNN/SSRN survey, 69% of Republican supporters and independents leaning Republican endorsed Trump's "2020 election denial." The survey shows that the rate was 71% in the wake of the January 2021 congressional attack. On the other hand, 4% each of Democrat supporters and independent Democratic leaners endorsed the "2020 election denial," while 96% said Biden was legitimately elected. Political polarization is going alongside information "filter bubbles," and Republicans still enthusiastically support Trump. 3 The view that "Trump is an outdated name" is wrong.

Last November's midterm elections attracted wide attention as many Republican "2020 election deniers" suffered disastrous defeats. They were candidates who literally denied the 2020 election, loudly claiming that Democrats had stolen the election by cheating. The possibility of a Trump re-run in 2024 emerged just before the midterm elections, alarming Democrats into "preventing Trump or the 2020 election deniers from rising." Since the denier candidates lost the elections, some argued that the election denial claims lost momentum. Yet, we must note that the election deniers had maintained advantages until immediately before the elections.

Meanwhile, Democrat supporters demonstrate strong opposition to Trump. In last year's midterm elections, feelings of hatred toward Trump were a tailwind for Democrats. Trump's speech on November 7, 2022, the day before the midterm elections, in which he suggested a re-run for president in 2024, is believed to have mitigated the defeat of Democrats, which may otherwise have been disastrous. Democrat supporters may have gone to the polls, saying, "We must by any means impede Trump's reelection; he sent conservative justices to the Supreme Court to steal abortion rights." This was perhaps what can be called a reverse Trump effect. Since the timing was just before the midterm elections, the move was not reflected in the advance polls. The foremost bone of contention in the 2022 midterm elections was abortion rights on the Democratic side and inflation control on the Republican side; they fought "different battles."

It would not be exaggerating to say that it was a rage at Trump that overturned the predicted Republican red wave of victories. Each of the elections since Trump was elected president has registered an extremely high voter turnout in US history. In the 2020 presidential election, nearly two-thirds (66%) of the eligible voting population went to the polls, marking the highest turnout for a national election since 1900. The 2018 election had the highest turnout (49%) for a midterm election since 1914. Voter turnout for the 2022 election was a slightly lower 46%, which, however, was higher than turnouts for all midterm elections since 1970. Voter turnout in 2016 was 60%; 36% in 2014 (midterm elections); 58% in 2012; 41% in 2010 (midterm elections), and 62% in 2008, when Obama was elected president. 4

Trump's overly hasty announcement of his re-run on November 15 of last year has actually unleashed the 2024 presidential election campaign. The name "Trump" is a mantra in the 2024 election to draw the anger of Democrats. Unless unexpected trouble happens, it is almost certain that Biden will be the Democrat presidential nominee as "the man who beat Trump."

Policy Implications of the Divide: Climate Change Actions

There is a broad difference between the policy direction of the Biden administration and that of the Republican Party. Republicans point to the "incompetence" of the Biden administration and seek to overturn almost every policy that the Biden administration has implemented to date.

One marked difference between the Biden administration and the Republican Party, in terms of domestic policy, is climate change actions. The Republican side is emphasizing "Anti-ESG investment" in the run-up to the 2024 elections; this is very different from the Biden administration's commitment to climate change actions. Conservatives strongly oppose ESG and SDGs, regarding the acronyms as "liberal slogans." The words have little recognition in the United States. There is a big difference from Japan, which is advancing SDG initiatives as a nation.

The "Anti-ESG investment" constitutes an epicenter of the next culture war. As a pet project of Governor DeSantis, an anti-ESG law was passed by the Florida legislature in May of this year. A Republican-led "Anti-ESG investment" bill, supported by some conservatives in the Democratic Party, passed Congress in March. Yet, President Biden used his veto power to kill the bill.

Climate change actions are a foreign policy issue. The current administration led by President Biden has made climate change actions a top priority, in contrast to the previous administration under Trump. It is promoting dialogue with China to seek compromise, creating a forum for exchange on differences in views of climate change. Even if the Biden administration reached an agreement on climate change actions with China, the situation would be bound to change with the inauguration of a Republican administration.

Domestic Divide and US Diplomacy

Diplomacy is relatively free from congressional restrictions because it is the exclusive domain of the president. Due to a divided government resulting in stagnant domestic politics, the Biden administration may redirect its policy focus toward security and diplomacy, as the president has more authority in those areas.

The past presidents, under divided governments formed in the wake of midterm elections, were inclined to focus on diplomacy and security, leaving stagnant domestic politics. President Biden will pursue and promote the foreign policy line he laid down.

That said, the domestic divide has a significant impact on the Biden administration's foreign policy. The intensifying conflict between the Democratic and Republican parties not only contributes to the domestic political stalemate but also affects US foreign policy, which was, in the past, generally implemented under bipartisan cooperation. For example, while many Democratic supporters view Biden's foreign policy as "pragmatic," many Republican supporters view it as "weak-kneed." There is very little shared understanding between the two sides. With political polarization as background, sharp discrepancies emerge in Congress and public opinion over such issues as climate change actions, the Ukraine war, and the debt ceiling that is bound to have a major impact on the global economy. The Biden administration is hindered by such discord and irreconcilability. During a relatively long time following World War II, there was a "Cold War Consensus," in which Congress accepted the president's foreign policy and tried to avoid confrontation as much as possible. That is now a story from the past.

The Biden administration is discouraging Iran from developing its nuclear capabilities. At the same time, however, it remains committed to, difficult as it may, a nuclear agreement with the country. The Republican Congress entertains a profound distrust of Iran. Should any atomic accord with Iran be discussed in Congress, the Biden administration will face more opposition than the Obama administration when the latter signed the Iran nuclear agreement in 2015. Even if the Biden administration could persuade Iran to return to nuclear agreement talks, Congress would not lend an ear.

The Future of Support for Ukraine

A US foreign policy agenda that will be most affected by the domestic divide is US support for Ukraine. Foreign policy is less subject to congressional restrictions. Nonetheless, since Congress has budgetary authority, a foreign policy that involves, for example, large amounts of aid is dependent on Congress.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States has already provided Ukraine with massive economic and military aid, the funding of which has received overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of Congress. "Ukraine fatigue" is not serious at this moment.

To continue and enhance its support for Ukraine, the Biden administration will improve cooperation with NATO members and intensify economic sanctions through further cooperation with G7 countries. It also aims to have many neutral states join sanctions against Russia. The administration is taking the lead in creating a framework of support for Ukraine involving the countries known as the Global South.

On the other hand, a semblance of "America First-ism" is becoming increasingly noticeable among Republican supporters. According to the July 2023 CNN/SSRN survey, an overall majority of 55% of respondents said that "the US Congress should not approve additional funds for Ukraine aid." Still, there were partisan differences—71% of Republican supporters and 38% of Democrat supporters.

When asked, "Has the United States already provided enough aid to Ukraine?", 51% of respondents "say that the US has already done enough to help Ukraine while 48% say it should do more." "[Another CNN/SSRN] poll conducted in the early days of the Russian invasion in late February 2022 found 62% who felt the US should have been doing more." 5 New House Speaker McCarthy's remarks on continued support for Ukraine, which had been a point of discussion since last year's midterm elections, caused some commotion. In an interview with the emerging online media outlet Punchbowl News, McCarthy noted, "I think when people find themselves in a recession, they will not give Ukraine carte blanche. They just won't do it." "Ukraine is important, but at the same time it can't be the only thing they do and it can't be a blank check."

Meanwhile, some Democrats are also cautious about assisting Ukraine. Last October, the progressive caucus within the Democratic Party sent a letter to the Biden administration stating, "[W]e urge you to pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire." There was a backlash from Democrats to this letter, including strong criticism from Speaker Pelosi. The missive was soon retracted. There are cautious opinions about providing massive aid for Ukraine, given the possibility of a future economic downturn in the United States. The Republican and Democratic sides may make a political issue of the Ukraine aid if the US economy continues to slow down.

Trump, the frontrunner in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, declared that if elected, he could end the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in one day and that he would block aid to Ukraine. The second runner-up, DeSantis, also stated that the Ukraine war issue is a territorial dispute that is not a top national security interest of the United States. He is negative about support for Ukraine. If the Republican Party takes power next year, the Biden administration's support for Ukraine to date will be replaced by something quite different. On climate change and the Ukraine issue, the direction of the Republican side would be widely different from that of the Biden administration.

US-China Relations

The Indo-Pacific policy is an area where the Biden administration and the Republican side hold similar views. The reason behind this is the shared perception of the Chinese threat, which is a bipartisan concern. As the ongoing decoupling (de-risking) of China from various supply chains of goods, such as semiconductors, mineral resources, and high-tech equipment, will continue in the foreseeable future, the US demand for Japan's cooperation must increase under the name of economic security.

The US-China confrontation will continue to intensify. There are various points of contention, including trade, security, and human rights. Democrats and Republicans tend to demonstrate a tough bipartisan stance in their policy toward China.

The US-China relationship is a longstanding rivalry. While the two superpowers are economically interdependent, they also pose security threats to each other. This dynamic has led to a "frenemy" status, where they are both friends and enemies at the same time. Consequently, it is of vital importance for the United States to continue talks to improve communication and to check any move by China to change the status quo.

Meanwhile, in the United States, US-China decoupling (de-risking) is underway. In particular, cutting-edge semiconductors are the primary target of decoupling, and the move to exclude China from the advanced chip industry will remain a goal for US allies as well, including Japan, for years to come.

During the US-China summit held on the heels of the midterm elections, President Biden addressed Taiwan to President Xi Jinping. He emphasized that the United States wishes to avoid conflict but firmly stated that China cannot change the current state of affairs through force. Congress has a more progressive stance on Taiwan policy compared to the administration. However, the authority to implement diplomatic measures lies with President Biden. As long as China does not cross the line, the approach of preventing any confrontation will remain unchanged.

Challenges for Democracy

In the current divided America, policy management is quite difficult. What matters is not "American public opinion" but "which public opinion." There is an ongoing conflict between conservatives and liberals that allows no debate. Moreover, because of "political polarization and narrow party margins," the two sides are always in a state of confrontation; any major policy change is always met with fierce denial from the opposing side.

The instant a "divided government" is formed, things become stuck. Politics "hardly" stops at the water's edge. The current divide is detrimental to national power. Because this divide is also a cultural conflict, it will take time to mend.

The current divide is sometimes referred to as "as bad as the situation on the eve of the American Civil War." The American Civil War was the worst in American history; it claimed a greater death toll than World War II, the Vietnam War, or the American War of Independence. It was literally a "civil war" within the United States.

"Is the United States heading for a ‘civil war' once again?" When I ask this question to my American friends, they wave it off laughing and say, "No, it is not." The Civil War was a historical event contemporaneous with the Meiji Restoration in Japan. They say it is fanciful to expect such a crisis to occur again.

Barbara Walter, a political scientist who has researched the causes of civil wars worldwide, has thoroughly analyzed this question. 6 Studying civil wars in Iraq, Northern Ireland, India, and the Philippines, she analyzed the triggers, escalation, and shared conditions among them.

Based on such findings, she concludes that various indicators of functioning democracy are declining rapidly and that the possibility of the United States heading for a civil war cannot be ruled out. What is the reason? According to Walter, the United States is no longer a "democracy" but an "anocracy"—a political system that is not fully democratic nor fully autocratic. The implications of this downgrading are serious. The rule of law, supposed to be upheld in a democracy, appears to be shaken; freedom of speech and accountability of politicians have become ambiguous, and the government's ability to govern has declined. The "anocracy" is more intractable than despotism because it represents a middle ground that has been experienced by other nations that have undergone civil war.

How then to prevent a full-scale civil war? Walter prepares an answer based on the scholarly research she has amassed until now. Her prescription for avoiding civil war includes the spread of fairer elections (the prevention of gerrymandering), democratic education, the prevention of spreading terrorism, and vigilance against extremism. Regulations for social media are also essential as they amplify and intensify modern conflicts. However, carrying out those prescriptions can be quite challenging. For example, it is difficult to regulate social media under the "freedom of expression." Given these circumstances, the current state of affairs in the United States is of concern.

(Professor, Sophia University)
(Translation by Tsutomu Inuzuka)

current topics