2021-07-03: 对美国民主的真正威胁

Elections 选举

The real risk to America’s democracy 对美国民主的真正威胁

Partisan election administration is a greater worry than voter suppression 党派选举管理比选民压制更令人担忧

Jul 3rd 2021

HAVING CAMPAIGNED for the presidency on a promise to rejuvenate democracy around the world, Joe Biden finds himself in a battle to defend it at home. In June, 200 prominent American scholars of democracy signed a letter warning that changes to state laws are “transforming several states into political systems that no longer meet the minimum conditions for free and fair elections”. Another longtime student of American democracy, the Republican leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said in January that if an election could be overturned by fact-free allegations from the losing side, “Our democracy would enter a death spiral.” Yet that is just what his party is facilitating.

拜登竞选总统时,曾承诺要在世界范围内重振民主,如今却在自己国内陷入了一场捍卫民主的战斗。6月,200位知名民主学者签署了一封联名信,警告说对州法律的变革正“把多个州转变成不再满足自由公正选举最起码条件的政治体制”。另一位长期研究美国民主的人,参议院共和党领袖米奇·麦康奈尔(Mitch McConnell)在一月份曾说过, “如果败选一方不顾事实的指控可以推翻选举结果的话,那么我们的民主会坠入死亡漩涡。” 然而在这件事上,其政党却恰恰在推波助澜。

For Democrats the threat to elections is about who can cast votes. They decry changes to laws on identification, postal ballots and so on, which they call “the new Jim Crow”. Although there is no excuse for restricting such things as Sunday voting, which is popular with African-American churches, their fears are overblown. Under the old Jim Crow, only 2% of African-Americans were registered to vote in some southern states. By contrast, political scientists are unsure whether today’s schemes will affect turnout at all.

对于民主党,对选举造成威胁的是谁可以投票的问题。他们强烈谴责在身份识别、邮寄选票等方面对法律所作的修改,称其为新的《吉姆·克劳法》。虽说没有理由对诸如周日投票(广受非裔美国教堂的欢迎)等进行限制,民主党人却有些过于担忧了。按老的《吉姆·克劳法》规定,只在某些南方州中,仅2%的非裔美国人是可以登记投票的。相比之下,政治学家并不确定,当下的方案会否对投票率产生任何影响。

Instead the real threat comes after votes have been cast. In Arizona, for example, the legislature wants to limit the independence of the chief elections officer; a state representative introduced a law letting the legislature overturn the results of a presidential election, and then started campaigning to oversee elections herself. In Georgia the state legislature can now replace the leadership of county election boards. Texas is considering a bill that makes it easier to prosecute election officials. Across the country, the officials who administer elections in states where Republicans hold sway have been attacked for upholding the election results. Many are at risk of being replaced.

相反,真正的威胁则存在于投票之后。比如,在亚利桑那州,州议会欲限制首席选举专员的独立性;有一位州代表提议立法,允许州议会推翻总统选举结果,然后她更发起宣传,要亲自监督选举。在佐治亚州,州议会现在可以取代县选举委员会来领导选举。德克萨斯州正考虑通过一项法案,使起诉选举官员更加容易。全美范围内,在共和党人占据主导地位的州,管理选举的官员都因维持投票结果而遭到攻击。许多人极有可能会被取而代之。

These might seem like distant, bureaucratic changes. In fact they raise the chances of a contested election that the courts cannot sort out. They weaken America’s voting system in ways that will outlast the hysteria over the 2020 result.

以上种种变革也许看似无伤大雅,官僚味十足。事实上,它们增加了选举充满争议的可能性,就连法院都无法解决这些争议。它们削弱了美国的选举制度,其所采取的方法会在2020年选举结果引发的暴乱之后延续下去。

The inspiration behind this is Donald Trump, who continues to use every chance he has to insist that the election was stolen. Though it is hard to know how seriously to take him, Mr Trump is already holding campaign rallies for 2024 (to win the White House for the third time in a row, naturally).

特朗普是这背后的灵感来源,他继续利用一切机会,坚称选举结果被盗。尽管很难确定要不要把他当回事,特朗普已开始为2024年的选举举行竞选集会了(当然是为了连续第三次入主白宫)

Claiming to be winning while actually losing might seem a joke. Yet most Republican voters take it literally. Two in three think that Mr Biden did not win November’s election and just short of half think the result should have been overturned. That leaves Trump-sceptics among the Republican elite in a familiar dilemma. Caught between their primary voters and loyalty to the constitution, most have concluded that, unless the Capitol is under siege, the best course of action is simply to stay silent.

实际上败选但宣称胜选,这看似个笑话。但大多数共和党选民却是句句当真的。有三分之二的人认为拜登并未赢得11月的选举,近一半人认为选举结果本应被推翻。这使得共和党精英中的特朗普怀疑论者陷入了一种似曾相识的两难境地。被夹杂在初选选民和忠于宪法之间,大多人都已决定,除非国会山被围,否则最佳行动方案就是保持沉默。

Yet the threats from Mr Trump and the threat to the constitution operate on different time-scales. Mr Trump may or may not run again. By contrast, the changes to state election machinery being made by Republican legislators will be in place in 2024 and beyond for a candidate of either party to exploit. To understand why this is so troubling, consider three fail-safe mechanisms built into American elections.

然而,来自特朗普的威胁,以及对宪法的威胁,各自运转的时间有所不同。特朗普有可能、也不一定再度竞选。另一方面,由共和党立法者对州选举机制所作的修改将于2024年生效,此后可供任何一方党派的候选人利用。为了理解这一点为何令人深感不安,让我们来考察一下深植于美国选举中的三个故障安全机制。

The first is the principle that the loser concedes. Mr Trump ditched that one in 2020. The second is the integrity of local election officials, no matter what their partisan allegiances. Despite coming under great pressure to do otherwise last year, they stood firm. As a reward, their powers have been stripped away or new felonies created that may be used to browbeat them. Many Republican officials who certified the election results have been censured by their local party committees and have also received death threats. Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, was notable in 2020 for his willingness to stand up to Mr Trump when he was directly asked to “find” the votes needed to overturn the results. Georgia’s state legislature has responded by taking away some of his authority.

首先是失败者认输原则。特朗普在2020年完全抛弃了这一原则。第二是无论效忠任何党派,地方选举官都要做到刚正不阿。去年,尽管承受了巨大的压力,他们还是保持了坚定的立场。作为“奖励”,他们的权力被剥夺,或被指控犯了莫须有的重罪,受到恐吓。很多共和党官员因核证了选举结果而遭到地方党委审查,还曾收到过死亡威胁。佐治亚州共和党州务卿布拉德·拉芬斯伯格(Brad Raffensperger)因在被直接要求“找到”所需选票以推翻选举结果时,敢于挺身反对特朗普,而在2020年名声大震。佐治亚州议会对此的回应是:剥夺其部分权力。

That leaves the third fail-safe—the courts. These too performed well under stress, and they probably would do so the next time round. Yet to put the primary responsibility for making elections legitimate onto the judicial branch in election after election risks overloading it and, ultimately, breaking it. How long would it be before a Supreme Court decision were ignored?

那就只剩第三个故障安全机制了——法院。他们在压力之下同样表现出色,而且下一次也很可能会一如既往。但是,选举一轮接一轮,把使选举合法化的重要责任推给司法部门,恐会使其负荷过重而最终崩溃。还有多久,最高法院的裁决就会被置之不理?

Catastrophising about democracy in America has been common on parts of the right: remember “the Flight 93 Election” in 2016, which called on patriots to storm the cockpit to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency? It has since spread to the left and centre, too. Talk of democracy in peril raises the spectre of a country under an autocrat of the type renounced on the Fourth of July 1776. The greater risk is that the chaos following the 2020 election becomes normal. By recent standards 2020 was not that close. Imagine a contest so tight that no national consensus could settle on who was ahead. America would be, to quote Mr McConnell again, on “a poisonous path where only the winners of an election actually accept the result”.

唱衰美国民主在部分右派中很常见:还记得2016年的“93号航班选举”吗?它号召爱国者攻进驾驶舱,别让希拉里·克林顿成为总统。自那以后,这一心理也蔓延到了左派和中间派之中。大谈特谈民主危在旦夕,会让人觉得国家正处于独裁者(和1776年7月4日被摒弃的独裁者是同一类)统治之下,因而引发恐惧之情。更大的风险是,2020年选举后发生的暴乱会成为家常便饭。根据最新标准,2020年的计票结果并不算接近。让我们想象一下,若竞争势均力敌,全国无法达成共识决定谁更领先一步。那样的话,再次引用麦康奈尔所言,美国将走上“一条有毒的道路,只有赢家才会真正接受选举结果。”

My party, right or wrong 我的党,对或错

Republican Party elites are in a bind of their own making. Under pressure from Mr Trump and his allies, state legislatures are making changes that will weaken American democracy. The solution is for leaders to uphold the norm that election administrators are above party. However, they have indulged the lie of a stolen election to such an extent that affirming the fraud has become an essential qualification for administering the next vote.

共和党精英作茧自缚,进退两难。在特朗普及其盟友的压力下,州议会对法律做出的修改,将削弱美国民主。对领导者而言,解决方案在于坚守选举管理者高于政党的准则。然而,他们对“选举被盗”的谎言完全听之任之,以至于只有先申明“大选存在舞弊”,才能获得管理下届选举的资格。

The silent non-Trump faction of the Republican Party may hope that all this will blow over and that those sounding the alarm about democracy are exaggerating. They may believe they can play a greater role in safeguarding America so long as they stay on good terms with their base. Yet that logic has proved faulty since Mr Trump’s inauguration in 2016. Meanwhile, the composition of their party is changing around them. It would be safer for the constitution, and more in keeping with the flag-waving spirit of the Fourth of July, for Republicans to speak out now before speaking out becomes even harder. ■

共和党内沉默的非特朗普派也许希望这一切都将烟消云散,而那些有关民主的警告都是夸大其词。他们也许相信,只要和自己的基本盘选民保持良好关系,就能在捍卫美国方面发挥更大的作用。但是,自2016年特朗普就职以来,这个逻辑已被证明是有问题的。与此同时,其政党构成也在发生变化。共和党人应趁现在畅所欲言(以后恐更难发声),这对宪法来说更加安全,也更符合国庆日的爱国主义精神。

(译者注:在民主政治学当中,基本盘(英语:base)特指一群选民,基本盘选民只投票给自己长期支持的政党或这个政党的候选人。)

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