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There Was a Loser Last Night. It Was America.

We still do not know who is the winner of the presidential election. But we do know who is the loser: the United States of America.


We have just experienced four years of the most divisive and dishonest presidency in American history, which attacked the twin pillars of our democracy — truth and trust. Donald Trump has not spent a single day of his term trying to be president of all the people, and he has broken rules and trashed norms in ways that no other president ever dared — right up to Tuesday night, when he falsely claimed election fraud and summoned the Supreme Court to step in and stop the voting, as if such a thing were even remotely possible.

我们刚刚经历了美国历史上最分裂、最不诚实的四年总统任期,民主制度的两大支柱——事实与信任——遭到了攻击。唐纳德·特朗普(Donald Trump)在任内没有花过一天时间努力成为一个所有人的总统,他以其他总统想都不敢想的方式打破了规则、破坏了规范——直到周二晚上还是如此,他谎称选举存在舞弊,要求最高法院介入并停止投票,就好像这种事真有那么一点点可能似的。

“Frankly, we did win this election,” Trump declared, while millions of ballots remained to be counted in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Arizona and Nevada.


“We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Trump added, without explaining how or on what basis. “We want all voting to stop.”


We want all voting to stop? Really?


But if Joe Biden wins — and we may not know for days — it may be by just a sliver of votes in several key battleground states. Although he’ll likely win the popular vote, there will be no landslide, no overwhelming majority telling Trump and those around him that enough was enough: Be gone with you and never bring that kind of politics of division back to this country again.

如果乔·拜登(Joe Biden)获胜——我们可能几天内都不会知道结果——靠的可能只是几个关键摇摆州的微弱优势。尽管他很可能赢得普选,但不会有压倒性的胜利,不会有绝对的多数票告诉特朗普和他身边的人,大家已经受够了:你们走吧,永远不要再把这种分裂政治带回这个国家。

“Whatever the final vote, it is already clear that the number of Americans saying, ‘Enough is enough’ was not enough,” said Dov Seidman, an expert on leadership and author of the book “How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything.”

“无论最终投票结果如何,已经很清楚的是,说自己‘受够了’的美国人还不够多,”多夫·塞德曼(Dov Seidman)说,他是领导力方面的专家,著有《为何我们如何做事最重要》(How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything)一书。

“There was no blue political wave,” he noted. “But, more importantly, there was no moral wave. There was no widespread rejection of the kind of leadership that divides us, especially in a pandemic.”


We are a country with multiple compound fractures, and so we simply cannot do anything ambitious anymore — like put a man on the moon — because ambitious things have to be done together. We can’t even come together to all wear masks in a pandemic, when health experts tell us it would absolutely save lives. It would be so simple, so easy and so patriotic to say, “I protect you and you protect me.” And yet, we can’t do it.


This election, if anything, highlighted the fault lines. The president, using many different dog whistles during the campaign, presented himself as the leader of America’s shrinking white majority. It is impossible to explain his continued support, despite his unprecedented poisonous behavior in office, without reference to two numbers:


The U.S. Census Bureau projects that by the middle of this year, nonwhites will constitute a majority of the nation’s 74 million children. And it is estimated that by sometime in the 2040s, whites will make up 49 percent of the U.S. population, and Latinos, Blacks, Asians and multiracial populations 51 percent.

美国人口普查局(U.S. Census Bureau)预计,到今年年中,非白人将占到美国7400万儿童的大多数。它还预计,到本世纪40年代的某个时候,白人将占美国人口的49%,拉美裔、黑人、亚裔和多种族人口将占51%。

Among many whites, particularly white working-class males without college degrees, there is clearly a discomfort with the fact, and even a resistance to it, that our nation is in a steady process of becoming “minority white.” They see Trump as a bulwark against the social, cultural and economic implications of that change.


What many Democrats see as a good trend — a country reckoning with structural racism and learning to embrace and celebrate increasing diversity — many white people see as a fundamental cultural threat.


And that is fueling another lethal trend that this election only reinforced.


“Many Republican senators and congressional representatives — like Lindsey Graham in South Carolina and John Cornyn in Texas — won by hugging Trump,” said Gautam Mukunda, author of “Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter.” “That means that Trumpism is the future of the G.O.P.

“许多共和党参议员和国会众议员——比如南卡罗来纳州的林赛·格雷厄姆(Lindsey Graham)和得克萨斯州的约翰·科宁(John Cornyn)——都是靠着拥抱特朗普而获胜的,”《不可或缺——当领导人真正很重要的时候》(Indispensable: When Leaders Really Matter)一书的作者高塔姆·穆昆达(Gautam Mukunda)说。“这意味着特朗普主义是共和党的未来。

“The tactically unique thing about Trumpism is that it never even tries to get the support of the majority of Americans. So the G.O.P. will continue with the strategy of using every legal, but democratically deeply harmful, way to control power even though most Americans vote against them — like the way they just crammed through two Supreme Court justices.”


That means all the stresses on the American system of government will continue to grow, Mukunda added, because in our antiquated electoral system, Republicans theoretically can control both the White House and the Senate despite the desires of a large majority of the American people. “No system can survive that kind of stress,” he concluded. “It will break at some point.”


Nothing has happened, even if Biden wins, that suggests Republicans will fundamentally rethink this political strategy that they perfected under Trump.


But Democrats have a lot to rethink, said Michael Sandel, a professor at Harvard and author of “The Tyranny of Merit: What’s Become of the Common Good.”

但哈佛大学教授、《唯才是举的暴政——公共利益的现状》(The Tyranny of Merit: What’s gone of The Common Good)一书的作者迈克尔·桑德尔(Michael Sandel)表示,民主党人有很多东西需要反思。

“Even though Joe Biden emphasized his working-class roots and sympathies,” Sandel told me, “the Democratic Party continues to be more identified with professional elites and college-educated voters than with the blue-collar voters who once constituted its base. Even so epochal an event as a pandemic, bungled by Trump, did not change this.

“尽管乔·拜登(Joe Biden)强调了他的工人阶级出身和同情心,”桑德尔对我说,“但民主党仍然更认同专业精英和受过大学教育的选民,而不是曾经构成其基础的蓝领选民。即使特朗普在大流行这样划时代的事件中搞砸了,这一点也没有改变。”

“Democrats need to ask themselves: Why do many working people embrace a plutocrat-populist whose policies do little to help them? Democrats need to address the sense of humiliation felt by working people who feel the economy has left them behind and that credentialed elites look down on them.”


Again, while Biden made small inroads with working-class voters, there seems to be no huge shift. Maybe because many working-class Trump voters not only feel looked down upon, but they also resent what they see as cultural censorship from liberal elites, coming out of college campuses.


As Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, wrote in an Oct. 26 essay, “Trump is, for better or worse, the foremost symbol of resistance to the overwhelming woke cultural tide that has swept along the media, academia, corporate America, Hollywood, professional sports, the big foundations, and almost everything in between.”

《国家评论》(National Review)的主编里奇·洛里(Rich Lowry) 在10月26日的一篇文章中写道,“无论好坏,特朗普都是抵抗席卷媒体、学术界、美国企业、好莱坞、职业体育、大基金会,以及几乎所有领域之内压倒性的觉醒文化潮流的最重要象征。”

“To put it in blunt terms,” he continued, “for many people, he’s the only middle finger available — to brandish against the people who’ve assumed they have the whip hand in American culture. This may not be a very good reason to vote for a president, and it doesn’t excuse Trump’s abysmal conduct and maladministration.”


I confess that the hardest conversations I had Tuesday night were with my daughters. I so badly want to tell them that all is going to be OK, that we’ve been through bad patches as a country before. And I hope that will turn out to be the case — that whoever wins this election will draw the right conclusion that we simply cannot go on tearing one another apart.


But I could not, in all honesty, tell them that with any confidence. I am certain “the better angels of our nature” are still out there. But our politics and our political system right now are not inspiring them to emerge at the scale and speed that we so desperately need.

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