Revving up the bases
Auditions down south and tactical debates up north, as activists on both sides plot a course for the coming election
Fired up, ready to blog
A DEMOCRAT sits in the Oval Office, preparing to run for re-election. Barack Obama is a formidable campaigner and fund-raiser. In 2008 his campaign raised a record $745m; this time his haul may exceed $1 billion. Gearing up to oppose him are a squabbling bunch of Republicans, united in relative obscurity save for the front-runner, Mitt Romney. By rights the left-leaning Netroots Nation gathering should have been jubilant, and the Republican Leadership Conference (RLC) doleful and panicky.
一位民主党人坐镇椭圆办公室，准备竞选连任。巴拉克•奥巴马是一个可畏的活动家和筹款人。2008年，他的竞选活动筹集到创纪录的7.45亿美元；而这次，这一数字可能超过10亿美元。准备迎战的是一群内讧的共和党人，暂时以隐约的领跑者米特•罗姆尼（Mitt Romney）为首。按理说，这时左倾的草根网民大会（Netroots Nation）应该喜气洋洋，而共和党领袖大会（Republican Leadership Conference，RLC）则愁闷惊慌。
But that would overlook the left’s capacity to rain on its own parade. Despite the big Democratic reforms of the past few years, the left—or at least the roughly 2,400 lefty bloggers who attended Netroots Nation—often sees the Obama administration as hesitant and incrementalist. Joan McCarter, who moderated a panel called “What to Do When the President is Just Not That Into You” (the title comes from a popular romance/self-help book), said that Mr Obama has been “not necessarily as progressive as we hoped he would be”.
然而这种想法忽视了左派的内部分歧。尽管民主党在过去几年进行了重大改革，但左派（或至少参加草根网民大会的近2400名左派博主）常常认为奥巴马政府不够果决，是渐进主义者。琼•麦卡特（Joan McCarter），一个名为“当总统其实没那么在乎你时该做什么”（What to Do When the President is Just Not That Into You，标题来自一本流行浪漫/励志图书）的座谈小组的主持者，表示奥巴马先生“没有我们所希望的那么进步”。
But progressives may also have been more docile than Mr Obama had reason to expect, and a running question at the conference was whether activists should defend or put pressure on the president. Recommending pressure was Dan Choi, a former army linguist who was discharged in 2010 after coming out as gay. He had become the country’s most prominent advocate for a repeal of the military “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and that same year was arrested after handcuffing himself to the White House fence. “We were drama queens, and we were damn proud of it, and our message was, ‘We’re going to get crazier’,” Mr Choi explained. The policy was repealed some months later, although the repeal has not yet been implemented.
然而进步分子（progressive）的失望可能还不是奥巴马先生最该担心的。大会上一个被重复提到的问题就是积极分子是否应维护总统还是向其加压。提倡加压的是丹•崔（Dan Choi），一个前军方语言学家，在同性恋身份曝光后于2010年遭解雇，随后成为军队“不要问，不要说”（Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell）政策废除运动全国最知名的倡导者，并于同年在将自己铐于白宫栅栏后遭逮捕。崔先生解释说，“我们是挑刺者，我们也确实因此而自豪，我们的口号是‘让我们更疯狂一点’”。“不要问，不要说”政策虽于数月之后被废除，但废除令至今仍未得到真正落实。
Defenders of the more cautious approach—and there were many—may be motivated less by love than by fear. Mr Obama may not be perfect, but even gloomy progressives realise he is better than the alternative. “Imagine the enforcement and regulating of the Affordable Care Act under President Rick Perry,” cautioned Eve Gittelson, a blogger from New York, at a panel on health reform.
主张谨慎对待的维护者（有很多）其考虑也更多出于担忧而非对总统的爱护。奥巴马先生可能并不完美，但是即使最失望的进步分子也明白他是目前最好的人选。“设想一下如果里克•裴瑞（Rick Perry）当总统平价医疗法案（Affordable Care Act）能被执行和落实吗？”一位来自纽约的博主伊娃•基特森（Eve Gittelson）在一个有关医改的座谈小组上提醒到。
As it happened, among the Republicans so imagining at the RLC in New Orleans was Mr Perry himself, in his third full term as governor of Texas and mulling over a presidential run. He warned that while states may face financial trouble now, “they’re going to pale in comparison to what we’ll see in 2014 when that runaway train known as Obamacare hits our budgets.” Mr Perry was one of eight potential candidates to speak at the conference. Neither Mr Romney nor Tim Pawlenty attended, and Jon Huntsman cancelled his appearance at the last minute. He and Ron Paul, standard-bearer for the party’s libertarian wing, were the most rapturously received: Mr Perry left the stage to chants of “Run, Rick, run!”, while Mr Paul won the conference’s straw poll by a hefty margin.
与此同时，在新奥尔良的共和党领袖大会上也有许多共和党人在做同样的设想，其中就有裴瑞先生本人——尚在德克萨斯州州长第三任期之内，正酝酿参加总统竞选。他警告说目前各州所面临的财政危机“到了2014年将会相形见绌，那时所谓奥巴马医改的脱缰野马将把我们的预算冲得稀烂。” 裴瑞先生是做大会发言的8名可能候选人之一。罗姆尼先生和蒂姆•帕伦蒂(Tim Pawlenty)都没有参加，洪博培（Jon Huntsman）也于最后时刻取消出席。裴瑞先生和共和党自由派旗手荣•保罗（Ron Paul）受到最热烈的欢迎：裴瑞先生在现场观众有节奏的“跑起来，里克，跑起来！”（Run, Rick, run!”）的加油声中退场，而保罗先生则以显著优势赢得大会的民意测验。
Such victories are nothing new for Mr Paul, whose supporters are passionate and flock to such party conferences, and he is no more likely to translate them into broader electoral victory this year than he has been in the past. Mr Perry, however, might prove a formidable candidate. He has the executive experience of Messrs Romney and Huntsman but lacks their political baggage—Mr Romney’s health-care reform, Mr Huntsman’s service to Mr Obama as an ambassador—and their Mormonism, which is still suspect to many Christian conservatives. He has tea-party credibility, but boasts a far longer and more impressive track record than Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain or Rick Santorum. In a weak and divided field—it is hard to imagine a supporter of Mr Paul succumbing to Mr Santorum’s religiosity, or a fan of Mr Romney’s country-club Republicanism finding much to like in Mrs Bachmann’s pitchfork populism—room exists for an all-things-to-all-men candidate such as Mr Perry.
这样的胜利对于保罗先生并不陌生，他的支持者热情高涨，总是成群地涌到这样的党派大会，但是如同过去一样，他今年也不大可能将这样的小胜利转换为更大的选举胜利。然而裴瑞先生却可能是一个强劲的候选人。他有着罗姆尼和洪博培两位先生的行政经验，但却没有他们的政治包袱——罗姆尼先生赞成医疗改革，而洪博培曾作为大使服务于奥巴马政府，此外对于他们的摩门教徒身份许多基督教保守主义者仍心存疑虑。裴瑞先生有着茶党的代表力，又要比米歇尔•巴克曼（Michele Bachmann）、赫尔曼•凯恩（Herman Cain）和里克•圣多伦（Rick Santorum）有着更长期和更能打动人的历史记录。在一个脆弱和分裂的阵营里——很难想象保罗先生的支持者会力挺圣多伦先生，或者罗姆尼先生乡村俱乐部共和主义的粉丝会看好巴克曼女士的干草叉民粹主义（pitchfork populism），像裴瑞先生这样四面讨好的候选人有着很大的机会。
Democrats should take no comfort from that divided field. In 2008 John McCain had the Republican nomination sealed by mid-February, while the battle between Mr Obama and Hillary Clinton dragged into June. Egos were bruised, but the base was motivated for the general election. Sometimes, true love waits.
民主党不应为对手的分裂而窃喜。2008年，约翰•麦凯恩（John McCain）早在2月中旬就锁定了共和党提名资格，而奥巴马先生与希拉里•克林顿（Hillary Clinton）之间的苦战却一直持续到6月份。整个过程中候选人个人虽然很受伤，但是群众却为后来的大选而充分动员起来了。有些时候，真爱需要等待。