英文

Editorial:Trump's attempt to force party members to show loyalty

【明報專訊】Before the inauguration of the President of the US, which will take place on January 20, there are still some routine procedures to be completed to confirm the winners. In the middle of last month, electors in each state cast their electoral votes for the two candidates according to their local vote counts, and on Wednesday (January 6) a joint meeting of the House and Senate will count all the electoral votes and Vice President Mike Pence, who will preside over the meeting, will officially announce the winner. It is no longer in doubt that Biden will take office, but for the past month or so, the Trump camp has still been trying to exploit loopholes in the routine procedure and has resorted to ''tricks'' to subvert the democratic election results.

Trump's right-wing populist operations have made him widely supported by conservative whites. Trump is proud of his ability to attract votes, and although he is about to step down, he still wants to maintain his political influence and to take advantage of the populists to call the shots in the Republican Party. This way he can avoid being purged for abusing his power during his term of office and look ahead to the 2024 election. He can also turn his political capital into a source of personal wealth, and to make a fortune through paid speeches and so on. Trump's many unconscionable moves after the election are actually a test of Republican dignitaries' political loyalty and an attempt to maintain control of the party. Asking party members to publicly agree to his claim of ''election fraud'' is just one of them.

The political horse-trading in Washington has become more and more confusing lately, and sometimes it is not clear who are on the same side. For example, the National Defence Authorisation Act, a bill that has been a sure-fire piece of legislation for decades, passed the House and Senate by large margins across party lines. But Trump, citing a host of specious ''reasons'', exercised his veto power. Ultimately the Republican-controlled Senate overrode the president's decision by an overwhelming margin to ensure the bill, which has to do with national security, will take effect.

In response to Trump's allegations of ''election fraud'', Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other prominent Republicans have largely kept Trump at arm's length, stressing the need for fair elections without explicitly endorsing the fraud claim. Trump has long complained that they have not done enough to overturn the election for him, but some of his recent ''loyalty tests'' have reached the point where he is acting arbitrarily, ignoring the national interest and forcing the Republican Party to bend the knee to him. It is inevitable that some people have refused to co-operate.

Under a democratic system, political parties need to strive for political power in order to achieve development. But they also need to know the political art of compromise, and some policy positions will inevitably be adjusted as times change. The Republican Party of the US during the era of Abraham Lincoln in the 19th century was very different from the Republican Party of the 20th century. However, in order for a political party to stand on its own, it must grow a spine and cannot just go with the flow all the time. The current Republican Party is being corroded by the sugar-coated poison of right-wing populism, and opportunists are in charge, each with their own agenda. The way this century-old brand moves forward will have a significant impact on the political ecology of American democracy.

明報社評 2021.01.04:特朗普逼黨人「表忠」 投機政客阿諛奉承

美國總統就職典禮將於1月20日舉行,在此之前,尚有一些確認當選人的例行程序要完成。上月中,各州選舉人已根據當地點票結果,給兩位候選人投下選舉人票;及至本周三(1月6日),美國參眾兩院聯席會議將清點所有選舉人票,並由主持會議的副總統彭斯正式宣布當選者。拜登上台已無懸念,然而過去個多月,特朗普陣營仍想在例行程序鑽空子,「出術」顛覆民主選舉結果。

特朗普的右翼民粹操作,令他廣獲保守白人支持。特朗普自恃吸票能力,雖然下台在即,仍想維持政治影響力,在共和黨「挾民粹令諸侯」,退可避免因為任內濫權被清算、進可問鼎2024年大選,又或將政治資本化為個人財源,透過收費演說等大撈一票。大選落敗後,特朗普很多不合情理的舉措,實際都是考驗共和黨政要忠誠,企圖延續對該黨的控制,要求黨人公開附和「選舉舞弊」,不過是其中之一。

最近華府政治合縱連橫愈發錯亂,有時也說不清誰跟誰是同道。以《國防授權法》為例,這項數十年來例必過關的法案,早前獲參眾兩院跨黨派大比數通過,未料特朗普卻搬出一堆似是而非的「理由」,行使否決權,最終要由共和黨控制的參議院,以壓倒多數推翻總統的決定,確保這項關乎國家安全的法案生效。

對於特朗普的「選舉舞弊」指控,彭斯跟參議院多數黨領袖麥康奈爾等共和黨內有名望之人,大抵都是虛與委蛇,強調選舉要公平,卻沒有明確附和舞弊之說,特朗普早已投訴他們未有落力為他翻盤,可是近期他的一些「表忠測試」,已到了有權任性、罔顧國家利益、強迫共和黨向他屈膝的地步,有人拒絕配合亦屬必然。

民主制度下,政黨謀發展,需要爭取政治權力,也要懂得妥協這門政治藝術,隨着時勢變化,一些政策立場難免會調整,19世紀林肯時代的美國共和黨,便跟20世紀的共和黨很不一樣,然而一個政黨要自立於天地,必須有基本風骨,不能一味隨波逐流、西瓜靠大邊。當下的共和黨,正被右翼民粹主義的糖衣毒藥蠶食,機會主義者當道,各懷鬼胎,這間百年老店如何前行,將對美國民主政治生態有重大影響。

■/ Glossary 生字 /

subvert /səbˈvɜːt/:to try to destroy the authority of a political, religious, etc. system by attacking it secretly or indirectly

call the shots:to be in the position of being able to make the decisions that will influence a situation

spine /spaɪn/:courage or determination

■英語社評聲檔:link.mingpao.com/53000.htm

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