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纽约时报双语:处在崩溃边缘的美国民主制度

处在崩溃边缘的美国民主制度
I’m a Democracy Expert. I Never Thought We’d Be So Close to a Breakdown.
LARRY DIAMOND
2020年11月3日
纽约时报双语:处在崩溃边缘的美国民主制度

As this Tuesday’s consequential election nears, my fellow democracy experts and I have often been asked: What is the right historical analogy to America’s current crisis? The truth is, there is no precedent. We have never seen such a longstanding democracy in such a rich country break down before — never. But it could happen this year.

随着本周二重大选举临近,我和我的民主问题专家同行们经常被问到这样一个问题:历史上,美国当前的危机有没有合适的类比?事实是,没有这样的先例。我们从未见过存在如此之久的民主制度在一个如此富裕的国家崩溃——从来都没有。但这可能会在今年发生。

The vulnerability of our democracy today doesn’t come in the form that many feared when Donald Trump was elected in 2016. The good news is that two of the three pillars of American democracy — liberty and the rule of law — endure, even if they have been battered. But the third pillar — free and fair elections — is under far more direct threat than my fellow democracy experts predicted.

如今我们民主制度的脆弱性,并不是2016年唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)当选时许多人担心的那个样子。好消息是,美国民主制度的三大支柱中,有两个——自由和法治——经受住了考验,哪怕它们也遭受了重创。但第三大支柱——自由公平的选举——所面临的威胁,比我的民主问题专家同行们预测的要严重得多。

Despite liberals’ worries, the United States has not descended into fascism. The president has repeatedly called to “lock up” or arrest his political rivals, but the Justice Department — however compromised its leadership at the top — has not complied.

尽管自由派忧心忡忡,但美国并没有陷入法西斯主义。总统多次呼吁“关起”或逮捕他的政治对手,但司法部从未遵从——不管其高层如何妥协。

Mr. Trump has relentlessly denounced the news media as the “enemy of the people,” but America’s vibrant free press continues to expose one White House scandal after another. And civil society organizations remain free to advocate for civil rights, the environment and other causes. Liberty remains essentially intact.

特朗普无休止地谴责新闻媒体是“人民公敌”,但美国充满活力的自由媒体仍一个接一个地继续揭露白宫丑闻。而公民社会组织仍然可以自由地倡导公民权利、环境保护和其他事业。自由在本质上仍然完好无损。

Mr. Trump has inflicted more damage to the rule of law. He has impugned the integrity of judges who have ruled against him. He has demanded loyalty to himself — not the law or the Constitution — from F.B.I. directors, intelligence officials, military commanders and his attorneys general. He has replaced five inspectors general investigating wrongdoing in his administration, withheld his tax returns, pardoned his political allies convicted of felonies, and normalized lying and inflammatory tweets as modes of presidential communication. And recently he issued an executive order undermining the political neutrality and career protections of thousands of senior civil servants.

特朗普对法治造成了更大破坏。他质疑对其做出不利裁决的法官的公正。他要求联邦调查局(FBI)局长、情报官员、军事指挥官和他的司法部长忠于自己,而不是忠于法律或宪法。他撤换了五名调查其政府不法行为的督察长,不公开自己的纳税申报表,赦免了被判重罪的政治盟友,并将谎言和煽动性推文当作总统正常的沟通模式。最近,他又发布了一项行政命令,破坏了成千上万高级公务员的政治中立和职业保护。

Yet the judiciary has retained considerable independence. In June, Mr. Trump’s first two Supreme Court nominees, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, joined a 7-2 majority ruling that the president wasn’t immune from a New York state subpoena for his financial documents. So far, the F.B.I. director Christopher Wray has quietly but professionally parried Mr. Trump’s demands for “loyalty” and defended the agency’s autonomy.

但司法机构仍保持着相当大的独立性。6月,特朗普提名的前两名最高法院法官人选尼尔·戈萨奇(Neil Gorsuch)和布雷特·卡瓦诺(Brett Kavanaugh)投下赞成票,最后以7比2的多数投票裁定,总统不能豁免纽约州因其财务文件发出的传票。到目前为止,FBI局长克里斯托弗·雷(Christopher Wray)低调但专业地回避了特朗普对“忠诚”的要求,捍卫了该机构的自主权。

As a result, Mr. Trump has not (yet) become a true autocrat. Illiberal populists such as Viktor Orban in Hungary and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey have gradually strangled their democracies by following an authoritarian playbook: control the courts by appointing subservient judges; conquer the independent media by corrupting or threatening its owners; intimidate business leaders into ceasing support of the political opposition; terrorize civil society groups into muffling their dissents; and assert personal political control over law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

因此,特朗普(还)没有变成一个真正的独裁者。像匈牙利的维克托·欧尔班(Viktor Orban)和土耳其的雷杰普·塔伊普·埃尔多安(Recep Tayyip Erdogan)那样的反自由民粹主义者已经逐渐扼杀了自己国家的民主,他们遵循了同样的威权主义策略:通过任命顺从的法官来控制法院;通过腐蚀或威胁其所有者以征服独立媒体;胁迫商业领袖,让他们停止支持政治上的反对势力;恐吓公民社会团体,压制他们的异见;并主张对执法和情报机构进行个人政治控制。

Mr. Trump hasn’t gotten very far in implementing that playbook, though he might well have more success if he is re-elected on Tuesday.

在实施这些策略上,特朗普并没有取得太大进展,但如果他周二成功连任,可能就会取得更大的成果。

But the third pillar of our democracy — the one we have most taken for granted — is most at risk: free and fair elections. The danger emanates from a singular combination of events, the worst pandemic in a century and the most undemocratic president in our history.

但我们民主制度的第三大支柱——最被我们视为理所当然的一个——面临的危险最大:那就是自由公平的选举。这一危险源自于各种事件、百年来最严重的大流行和我们历史上最没民主精神的总统的罕有组合。

With Democrats accounting for a much larger share of mail-in ballots than Republicans, Mr. Trump has repeatedly challenged the legitimacy of these votes. If he is leading even narrowly on Tuesday night, he could claim victory based only on the votes so far counted — even though Joe Biden might well be on course to win when all valid votes are counted. Worse, he might pressure the Republican legislatures in battleground states, like Pennsylvania and Florida, to award him their state’s electors, even if the formal vote-counting machinery ultimately declares a Biden victory in the state. Then it would fall to the courts and Congress (under the terms of the inscrutable, badly written Electoral Count Act of 1887) to determine who had won in the disputed states.

由于民主党在邮寄选票中的得票率远高于共和党,特朗普一再质疑这些选票的合法性。如果他在周二晚哪怕只取得了微弱的领先优势,他都会仅靠已清点的选票来宣布胜利——尽管在所有有效选票清点完毕后,乔·拜登(Joe Biden)很可能会获胜。更糟糕的是,他可能会向宾夕法尼亚州和佛罗里达州等摇摆州的共和党立法机构施压,要求他们将选举人票投给自己,即使正式计票机制最终宣布拜登在该州获胜。然后,就得由法院和国会(根据难以理解且写得很糟糕的《1887年选举人票统计法》)来决定谁赢下了这些争议州。

Such a scenario would be far more dire and polarizing than even the Bush v. Gore nightmare of 2000, with an incumbent president threatening fire and brimstone if the election were not handed to him, while signaling violent right-wing extremists to “stand by” but perhaps no longer “stand down.” Many on the left would no longer be willing to let the presidency (in their eyes) be stolen from them again, and far-left groups might revel in the chance to worsen the crisis. The potential for violence would be alarming.

这样的场面甚至会比2000年布什诉戈尔案(Bush v. Gore)的噩梦更可怕和极端,因为这位现任总统威胁说,如果不把大选胜利交到他手上,就是忤逆天意,同时暗示暴力的右翼极端分子“袖手旁观”,但可能不用再“后退”了。许多左派也不愿意再让总统职位(在他们眼中)被偷走,而极左团体可能会乐于见到使危机恶化的契机。暴力冲突的可能性令人担忧。

The integrity of the election is further challenged by the rising pace of voter suppression. In 2013, the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, throwing out the formula requiring nine states (and other localities) with a history of racist voter suppression to obtain federal permission before changing their voting requirements. Since then, these and other Republican-controlled states have imposed legal and administrative changes that have made voting more difficult for Black Americans, Hispanics, young people and city dwellers — all heavily Democratic constituencies.

选举的公正性因压制选民行为日益加剧而受到进一步挑战。2013年,美国最高法院废除了《投票权法案》(Voting Rights Act),取消了要求九个曾经有过因种族主义压制选民历史的州(以及其他地区)在改变投票要求之前必须获得联邦政府批准的规定。从那时起,这些州和其他共和党控制的州实施了法律和行政改革,使得美国黑人、西班牙裔、年轻人和城市居民的投票变得更加困难,而这些人群都是民主党的重要票仓。

It would be undemocratic enough for the loser of the national popular vote to again be elected (for the third time in the past seven presidential elections) by winning the Electoral College. But if Mr. Trump were to win re-election by narrowly prevailing in two or three states through extensive disqualification of mail-in ballots or through voter suppression, the legitimacy of the 2020 election could be questioned far more intensely than those of 2000 or 2016. And if Mr. Trump failed to win the Electoral College but was nonetheless declared president thanks to partisan electors, it would signify a grave breakdown of American democracy — even if people remained free to speak, write and publish as they pleased.

如果在全国普选中失败的人再次通过赢得选举团投票当选(这是过去七次总统选举中的第三次),那将是不够民主的。但是,如果特朗普想通过大范围取消邮寄选票资格,或通过选民压制,在两三个州以微弱优势赢得连任,2020年大选的合法性可能会受到比2000年或2016年大选更强烈的质疑。如果特朗普没能在选举团投票中获胜,但由于党派选民的支持而被宣布为总统,这将意味着美国民主的严重崩溃——即使人们仍然可以随心所欲地自由言论、写作和出版。

The very age of American democracy is part of the problem. The United States was the first country to become a democracy, emerging over a vast, dispersed and diverse set of colonies that feared the prospect of the “tyranny of the majority.” Hence, our constitutional system lacks some immunities against an electoral debacle that are common in newer democracies.

美国民主已经上了年纪,这正是问题的一部分。美国是第一个实行民主制的国家,它是在一系列广袤、分散、多样化的殖民地上产生的,这些殖民地担心出现“多数的暴政”。因此,我们的宪法体系缺乏一些在较新的民主国家中常见的防止选举失败的豁免权。

For example, even though Mexico is a federal system like the United States, it has a strong, politically independent National Electoral Institute that administers its federal elections. The Election Commission of India has even more far-reaching and constitutionally protected authority to administer elections across that enormous country. Elections thus remain a crucial pillar of Indian democracy, even as the country’s populist prime minister, Narendra Modi, assaults press freedom, civil society and the rule of law. Other newer democracies, from South Africa to Taiwan, have strong national systems of election administration staffed and led by nonpartisan professionals.

例如,尽管墨西哥像美国一样是联邦制国家,但它有一个强大的、政治上独立的国家选举机构来管理联邦选举。在幅员辽阔的印度,选举委员会在管理选举方面的权力更为深远,并受到宪法保护。因此,选举仍是印度民主的重要支柱,即便该国奉行民粹主义的总理纳伦德拉·莫迪(Narendra Modi)攻击新闻自由、公民社会和法治。从南非到台湾,其他较新的民主国家都有强大的国家选举管理系统,由无党派专业人士组成和领导。

The American system is a mishmash of state and local authorities. Most are staffed by dedicated professionals, but state legislatures and elected secretaries of state can introduce partisanship, casting doubt on its impartiality. No other advanced democracy falls so short of contemporary democratic standards of fairness, neutrality and rationality in its system of administering national elections.

美国的选举体系是州和地方政府的大杂烩。大都由专门的专业人员组成,但是州立法机构和选举产生的州务卿会引入党派偏见,令人对其公正性产生怀疑。在先进的民主国家中,只有美国管理全国选举的体系如此不符合当代民主的公平、中立和理性标准。

More recent democratic countries have adopted constitutional provisions to strengthen checks and balances. Like many newer democracies, Latvia has established a strong independent anti-corruption bureau, which has investigative, preventive and educational functions and a substantial budget and staff. It even oversees political and campaign finance. South Africa has the independent Office of the Public Protector to perform a similar role.

较近期的民主国家通过了加强制衡的宪法条款。像许多较新的民主国家一样,拉脱维亚建立了一个独立、强大的反腐败局,它具有调查、预防和教育职能,并拥有大量的预算和工作人员。它甚至监督政治和竞选资金。南非设有独立的公共保护者办公室(Office of the Public Protector),发挥着类似的作用。

The United States has no comparable standing authority to investigate national-level corruption, and Congress largely investigates and punishes itself.

在调查国家级腐败方面,美国没有类似的常设权力机构,而国会主要是自行查处自己。

Newer democracies also take measures to depoliticize the constitutional court. No other democracy gives life tenure to such a powerful position as constitutional court justice. They either face term limits (12 years in Germany and South Africa; eight in Taiwan) or age limits (70 years in Australia, Israel and South Korea; 75 in Canada), or both. Germany depoliticizes nominations to its constitutional court by requiring broad parliamentary consensus. In other democracies, a broader committee nominates Supreme Court justices. In Israel this involves not just the executive branch but the parliament, some of the existing justices and the bar association.

较新的民主国家还采取措施,使宪法法院去政治化。其他任何民主国家都没有为宪法法院法官这样的权力职位赋予终身任期。它们要么有任期限制(在德国和南非是12年,台湾是8年);要么有年龄限制(澳大利亚、以色列和韩国为70岁,加拿大是75岁),或者两者兼有。德国要求议会达成广泛共识,从而使宪法法院的提名非政治化。在其他民主国家,最高法院大法官由一个范围更广的委员会提名。在以色列,这个问题不仅涉及行政部门,还涉及议会,以及一些常设的法官和律师协会。

Many of these ideas simply didn’t occur to America’s founders, who were framing a modern democracy for the first time, for a largely rural society with more limited levels of education, communication and life expectancy. The result is that American democracy lacks national checks on executive corruption and national guarantees of electoral integrity that have become routine in other democracies around the world. And nominations to our Supreme Court have become far more politicized than in many peer democracies.

美国的开国元勋们根本没有产生这些想法,他们当时是第一次为一个教育水平、通讯联络和预期寿命都很有限的农村社会构建现代民主社会。其结果是,美国的民主制度缺乏对行政腐败的全国性制衡和对选举诚信的全国性保障,而这些制衡和保障在世界其他民主国家已成为常态。与其他民主国家相比,我们最高法院的提名也更加政治化。

Throughout most of our history, America’s democratic norms have been strong enough and the outcomes have been clear enough to avoid catastrophic conflict over a national election. But several times (most notably with the Hayes vs. Tilden presidential election of 1876), we approached the precipice — and only avoided falling off through luck and painful compromises.

在我们历史上的大部分时间里,美国的民主规范足够强大,结果也足够明确,从而避免了因全国性选举而发生灾难性冲突。但有几次(最著名的是1876年海耶斯[Hayes]对蒂尔登[Tilden]的总统选举),我们已经接近悬崖——只是因为运气以及痛苦的妥协才没有掉下去。

Today, we are far closer to a breakdown than most democracy experts, myself included, would have dared anticipate just a few years ago. Even if we are spared the worst, it is long past time to renew the mechanisms of our democracy, learn from other democracies around the world and again make our republic a shining city on a hill.

今天,与包括我自己在内的大多数民主专家在几年前敢于预测的情况相比,我们更接近崩溃。即使我们能够幸免于最坏的情况,我们也早就应该更新我们的民主机制,向世界各地其他民主国家学习,使我们的共和国再次成为山巅上的光辉之城。

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