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How Donald Trump needs to exit the White House


By Daniel W. Drezner December 4

There are many ways that Donald Trump can cease being president. One path is far superior to all others.


Speculation about how long Donald Trump will last as president has been rampant since the spring. By summer it was quite clear that: a) Trump was not going to grow up in office; and b) the best staffing in the world would not be able to make him even a mediocre president. Yes, constitutional checks and balances are still working, but that is cold comfort when so many officials and analysts are talking so casually about war with North Korea.


The past week seemed to spark anew frenzied cries that the president is seriously unwell and therefore something must be done. The president’s reported conviction that it wasn’t him on the Access Hollywood tape bordered on the delusional. The plea deal with Michael Flynn reminded everyone of the legal threats that have been tapping, as of Robert Mueller gently rapping, rapping at Trump’s chamber door. The Senate passed a garbage tax bill, even as the president’s Gallup poll numbers plummeted. The White House’s orchestrated leaks about Rex Tillerson’s departure, clearly designed to shame him into stepping down, seemed redundant. At this point, nothing can shame Tillerson more than the job he has done as secretary of state.

上周似乎引发了新一轮疯狂的呼吁,总统极其不适当,因此必须要做一些事。总统确信走进好莱坞录像带上不是他的报告近乎妄想症。迈克尔·弗林(Michael Flynn)的认罪协议提醒所有人,法律威胁已经被利用了,自从罗伯特·穆勒(Robert Mueller)轻敲,敲打在特朗普的房门。参议院通过了垃圾税法案,总统的盖洛普民调数据仍然直线下降。白宫精心策划的泄露蒂勒森(Rex Tillerson)的离职显然是多余的,显然是为了让他感到羞辱而辞职。在这点上,除了蒂勒森作为国务卿所做的工作之外,没有什么能让他感觉耻辱了。

So it is no surprise that some hope the Mueller investigation will bring Trump down, or that the president will eat himself into a coronary. It is certainly possible that these things will happen. As someone who has vehemently opposed Trump for years, however, I hope they do not.


To be clear, it is not that I believe the Mueller investigation to be a fruitless endeavor. In a little over six months, the special counsel has managed to indict Trump’s former campaign manager and reach a plea deal with Trump’s first national security adviser. The more malfeasance Mueller and his team exposes, the better. He has done a far better job of draining the swamp than the president of the United States.


Still, if Trump is forced out by constitutional-but-unprecedented means, I fear the repercussions. Consider the 25th Amendment. As Ezra Klein observes — in a Vox article making the case for impeachment, no less — removing Trump this way would lead to all kinds of blowback:

不过,如果特朗普被宪法以前所未有的方式逼下台,我担心会产生反弹。考虑到第25修正案。正如Ezra Klein在Vox的一篇文章中评述,应造成弹劾而不是较轻的。这样让特朗普下台会导致各种违背初衷的后果:

Imagine that Vice President Mike Pence and the Cabinet did compel Trump to undergo psychiatric uation. And imagine the psychiatrist did return a diagnosis of some kind, be it early-stage dementia or narcissistic personality disorder (plenty of psychiatrists stand ready to diagnose Trump with all manner of mental ailments, so this is not far-fetched). The vote is taken, and Trump is removed from office.


To many of Trump’s supporters — and perhaps many of his opponents — this would look like nothing less than a coup; the swamp swallowing the man who sought to drain it. Imagine the Breitbart headlines, the Fox News chyrons. And would they truly be wrong?

对于许多特朗普的支持者来说--也许还有许多他的反对者--这看起来像是一场政变;沼泽吞噬了试图排干它的人。想象一下 Breitbart 的头条新闻,福克斯新闻杂志。他们真的错了吗?

Of course, this also undercuts Klein’s argument for a lower threshold for impeachment. If Trump was removed from office that way, the political blowback would probably be the same. Regardless, in contrast to the 25th Amendment, impeaching and removing Trump from office remains a true hypothetical. In this polarized age, the only way Trump would be removed from office is if Democrats win 67 seats in the Senate. That is not going to happen anytime soon.


For Trump to lose properly, it has to be at the ballot box. Trump has to run for reelection and be repudiated by American voters. He has to lose the popular vote again, get trounced in the electoral college, and see his party pay the consequences of backing the most ignorant, illiberal president in modern American history.


Jacob T. Levy knows a lot about constitutional democracy, and over at the Niskanen Center’s blog he makes a powerful case of the need for a political over a legal solution to Trump’s failures as a leader:

Jacob T. Levy非常了解宪政民主,而在Niskanen中心的博客上,他提出了强有力的情况下,需要通过政治途径优于法律解决特朗普作为领导人的失败:

Law aims at certainty, the definitive and correct protection of those who hold rights against those who would violate or undermine them. Politics offers no such certainties. Even at its best it is a domain of contestable judgments that never stop being contested. There is no final settlement; there is always another election. Liberals worry about majoritarianism, and think law can, as politics cannot, protect individuals and minorities from it. We imagine that constitutional settlements can tame politics, confining it within the boundaries of law, ensuring that it complies with justice and respects rights. But they can’t. …


The current administration shows why the defense of freedom and of the liberal society can’t be an exclusively legal concern. Rules can be manipulated and danced around by the powerful. Legal proceedings are much slower than changes in political circumstances. And executive power is in its nature somewhat lawless. John Locke described executive prerogative as necessary in any system that separated the executive and legislative powers, and defined it as the “power to act according to discretion, for the public good, without the prescription of the law, and sometimes even against it.”…

现在的政府显示了为什么捍卫自由和自由社会不能完全是法律问题。规则可以由强大的人操纵和舞弊。法律诉讼比政治环境的变化慢得多。行政权力在本质上是无法可依。John Locke在任何分离行政和立法权力的制度中都描述了行政特权都是必要的,并将其定义为“根据自由裁量权,为了公共利益,不经法律规定,有时甚至违反它。”...

If the independent executive cannot be successfully bound by law, then there is nothing else for it but politics. I’ve argued several times in this space that we need to understand the defense of the liberal society as a political project, one that is dependent on political resources from motivations for popular mobilization to organizational capacity to institutional counterbalances. (See also Michelle Schwarze’s fine essay.) The liberal order of free and open commerce, of religious liberty and freedom of speech and the press, and of rule-of-law constraints on state arbitrariness and violence requires strong political foundations; while law is a crucial part of that order, it can’t pull itself up by its own bootstraps. The liberal society needs an electorate, and elected officials, who are willing and able to stand up for it.

如果独立行政不能成功的依法治理,那么除了政治之外别无他法。我曾在这个领域辩论过多次,我们需要把自由社会的防卫理解为一个政治项目,它依赖于政治资源,从民众动员的动机到组织能力到机构平衡(另见Michelle Schwarze的优秀论文)。自由开放的商业、宗教自、言论和新闻自由的自由秩序以及法治对国家专断和暴力的限制,需要强有力的政治基础,虽然法律是这一秩序的重要组成部分,但它不能靠自己的努力而振作起来。自由社会需要选民和民选官员,他们愿意并且能够支持它。

The absolute best way for Trump and Trumpism to be repudiated is through democratic and not merely legal means. If Doug Jones defeats Roy Moore in Alabama despite a presidential endorsement, that represents a blow to Trump in the same way he was humiliated by the Virginia state elections last month. If the GOP loses badly in the midterms despite a healthy economy, that is an even bigger repudiation of the head of the Republican Party. And if Trump loses bigly in his quest for reelection in 2020, such a resounding defeat might shock the GOP into repudiating white identity politics.

否定特朗普和特朗普主义最好的方式绝对是通过民主而不仅仅是法律手段。如果道格·琼斯(Doug Jones)在阿拉巴马州击败罗伊·摩尔(Ray Moore),尽管总统认可,这仍对特朗普是一个打击,就像他上个月被弗吉尼亚州选举羞辱一样。如果共和党在健康的经济下仍在中期选举中惨败,将是对共和党领袖的更大否定。而如果特朗普在2020年寻求连任失败,这样一个巨大的打击可能会冲击共和党而否定白人身份政治。

Electing Trump once was a fluke involving a fractured GOP, an unpopular Democrat nominee, and the Democrats having won the previous two terms. Electing Trump twice would be national suicide. If the United States has any chance at regaining its bearings as the greatest constitutional democracy in the world, the populist in chief must be revealed as genuinely unpopular. And it has to happen at the ballot box.