Is This the Trump Tipping Point?



Doug Mills/The New York Times

You never want to say that you’ve reached a tipping point with this administration. Donald J. Trump has proved to be the Nosferatu of American politics: heartless, partial to Slavs, beneath grace and thus far impervious to destruction.


Even when I read my colleague Jonathan Martin’s fine piece on Saturday, about how some high-profile Republicans refuse to vote for Trump or are struggling with publicly lending him their support, I thought: yes, but. They’re just a handful. They’re the usual suspects. Too few of them have coattails.

甚至在我读到同事乔纳森·马丁(Jonathan Martin)上周六发表的妙文,讲述一些知名的共和党人如何拒绝把票投给特朗普,或者只是在勉强公开挺他,我心里想的是:是的,但是。他们只是少数。而且这些人都是意料之中的。其中,真正有影响力的人没有几个。

Yet something right now really is different. I think.


Before diving into the more entrancing developments, I’ll start with the obvious: Trump’s old tactics, once so reliable, are starting to fail him, utterly.


It was a winning strategy to crow about a border wall with Mexico, but it’s a loser — and a sign of pure cowardice — to build one around your own White House. He once basked in the reflected glow of “his generals”; now those generals are laying waste to him, with James Mattis, his former defense secretary, explicitly condemning Trump’s immature and divisive leadership, and John Kelly, the president’s former chief of staff, saying yep, sounds about right.

吹嘘美墨边境隔离墙是一个成功的策略,但在你自己的白宫周围修墙则是一个失败的策略,而且是十足懦弱的标志。他曾经沉浸在“麾下将领”反射出来的光芒里;现在,这些将军们把他毁得够呛,前国防部长詹姆斯·马蒂斯(James Mattis)公开谴责其不成熟、带来分裂的领导风格,他的前幕僚长约翰·凯利(John Kelly)说,没错,就是这样的。

Maybe there was a time when religious conservatives would have applauded a photo of Trump standing in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bible in hand. But using pepper balls and flash-bang grenades to clear anguished protesters out of the way backfired. The Episcopal bishop of Washington reacted in horror; Trump’s support among white Catholics slipped 11 points between April and May.


Maybe there was a time when stigmatizing all progressive protesters as invading marauders would have worked — bigotry, it gets the job done — but not now. His proposal to suppress the tumult with the military was greeted with disapproval by his current secretary of defense, Mark Esper, and disgust by Mattis; the Black Lives Matter movement now polls at an all-time high, with 66 percent of Americans disapproving of how Trump has handled the response to George Floyd’s death.

或许有那么一段时间,将所有进步派的抗议者污蔑为入侵掳掠的人会奏效,能达到目的,但现在不行了。现任国防部长马克·埃斯珀(Mark Esper)反对他动用军队平息骚乱的提议,而马蒂斯对此也感到厌恶;现在,“黑人的命也是命”运动的民调支持率创下历史新高,有66%的美国人不认同特朗普对弗洛伊德之死的反应。

Trump is flailing like an overturned turtle. A historic health crisis, an economic crisis and a social crisis all at once — it’s far too much for a reality TV star to handle, no more manageable than it’d be for him to land an airplane. What this moment may have revealed, ironically enough, is that only in a time of stability and outrageous decadence could the United States have had the luxury of picking such a dark and divisive candidate with the intellectual firepower of a water gun. When Trump asked voters “What have you got to lose?” most never dreamed that the answer could be: Everything.


But now for the subterranean tremors that most beguile me — a suggestion that something deeper is afoot.


Trump, right now, is trying to stoke white fears about protests in the street. But he’s having little luck. On Wednesday, Lara Putnam, the chairman of the history department at the University of Pittsburgh, tweeted a modest but persuasive thread highlighting the easy victory by Summer Lee, a progressive African-American woman elected to the Pennsylvania statehouse in 2018, in the Democratic primary on Tuesday.

特朗普现在正试图激起白人对街头抗议的恐惧。但他的运气不太好。周三,匹兹堡大学(University of Pittsburgh)历史系主任拉拉·帕特南(Lara Putnam)在Twitter上发了一组语气温和但很有说服力的推文,凸显了2018年当选为宾夕法尼亚州议会议员的进步派非裔美国女性萨默·李(Summer Lee)在周二民主党初选中的获胜有多么轻松。

“Based on the history of the district — and the range of voters I’ve talked to there myself — it seemed entirely plausible that there would be white backlash against her in this moment,” Putnam told me.


If ever there were a moment for a backlash, she pointed out, this would have been it: Images of social unrest were all over Pittsburgh television the weekend before the primary, and Lee had been an outspoken proponent of the protesters. Voters could have selected her primary opponent, a moderate white borough councilman who had the backing of the county’s most powerful Democrat — and its Democratic Party.


Instead, voters doubled down. Lee was already winning on Election Day — we now know this, based on mail-in ballots — and as the ballot counting continued, she pulled even further ahead. Her victory suggested that the white suburban women and retirees in her district were unswayed by Trump’s demonizing and dog-whistling.


In these protests, it is possible we are seeing the rumblings of a new Democratic coalition. On Saturday, Putnam and two of her colleagues wrote that the scale and geographic diversity of these demonstrations were without American precedent.


We already know that Trump’s support among white women is sliding in the polls, both with college degrees and without; it’s probably not an accident that the first Senate Republican to endorse Mattis’ views of Trump was Lisa Murkowski, a white woman from Alaska. (And perhaps, as Jonathan Martin’s piece hinted, other Republican senators will start to follow, and refrain from giving him their support.) As Barack Obama pointed out in his recent town hall, “a far more representative cross-section of America” is out protesting in the streets than in the 1960s.

我们已经知道,根据民调,特朗普在白人女性中的支持率正在下滑,无论她们有没有大学学历;第一位支持马蒂斯对特朗普的评语的共和党参议员是来自阿拉斯加州的白人女性丽莎·穆考斯基(Lisa Murkowski),这可能不是巧合。(也许,正如乔纳森·马丁的文章所暗示的那样,其他共和党参议员也会效仿,不再支持他。)而贝拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)在最近的市政厅讲话中所指出的那样,相比1960年代,目前这群走上街头的美国人“在群落组成上的代表性强了许多”。

At a time of genuine crisis, Americans aren’t pining for Darth Vader. They’re pining for a healer. It’s healing words of empathy that have thus far won the day. Trump may have been fumbling with his Bible, but it was Nancy Pelosi who read aloud from Ecclesiastes, and it was Joe Biden who said in a heartfelt, 24-minute speech that he wished the president would open it every once in a while.

在真正的危机时刻,美国人并不渴望达斯·维德(Darth Vader)。他们渴望一个治愈者。迄今为止,是充满同理心的治愈性话语赢得了胜利。特朗普的圣经把戏是搞砸了,然而南希·佩洛西大声诵读了《传道书》,而乔·拜登(Joe Biden)在他那段诚恳的24分钟演讲里说,他希望总统能够偶尔打开这本书看看。

It’s probably too much to hope for. But for the first time in three years, change is not.