America, Your Election Is Not Rigged
For the last few weeks, the Republican nominee for president, Donald J. Trump, has been talking a lot about how the Nov. 8 election is rigged against him. In fact, he sounds convinced that the entire campaign season is rigged in favor of his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. These are serious charges, or they would be if Mr. Trump had any idea what he was talking about.
过去几周，共和党总统提名人选唐纳德·J·特朗普(Donald J. Trump)一直在大谈有人如何针对他暗中操纵11月8日的选举。实际上，他听起来是坚信整个选举季都因为他的民主党竞争对手希拉里·克林顿(Hillary Clinton)而受到了操纵。这些都是严重的指控，或者说如果特朗普知道自己在说什么的话，这些便是严重的指控。
Nobody in the American political establishment is happy about Mr. Trump’s wild-eyed accusations of voter fraud and media conspiracies because they understand that it undermines their own credibility as leaders in a democracy. This is exactly why my country’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin, is so delighted by Mr. Trump’s charges.
美国政界没人乐意看到特朗普信口雌黄指控选举作弊和媒体阴谋，因为他们明白，这有损他们自己作为一个民主国家的领袖的可信度。这正是我国领导人弗拉基米尔·V·普京(Vladimir V. Putin)对特朗普的指控感到高兴的原因。
In power for 16 years now, Mr. Putin and his global propaganda machine aggressively promote the idea that democracy is a chaotic mess that only the hero Putin can save Russia from falling into. Social media is flooded by Kremlin-funded trolls ranting about the illegitimacy of the American election process and warning of the potential for violence. To have a major party nominee in America repeating this propaganda is beyond Mr. Putin’s wildest dreams. Mr. Trump even echoes Mr. Putin’s authoritarian rationales, presenting himself as the only one who can rescue America.
I know a few things about rigged elections. I know what it’s like to have the overwhelming power of the state used against me to make a mockery of the democratic process. I know what it means to have my opinion censored while every major media outlet is dedicated to vilifying me and my colleagues. I know what happens when a conspiracy of public and private interests forms to intimidate, harass, prosecute and even kill in order to preserve a monopoly on power.
I know these things well because I learned them the hard way during my years as a political opposition leader in Mr. Putin’s Russia. None of these things are happening to Donald Trump.
After I retired from professional chess in 2005, I helped form an opposition coalition, known as Other Russia, to protest Mr. Putin’s increasingly dictatorial regime. According to the Russian Constitution, Mr. Putin was unable to stand for a second re-election as president in 2008, and it wasn’t clear what would happen to a power structure that had become completely centered on one man. If Mr. Putin ignored the Constitution completely and simply stayed on openly as a dictator, he risked alienating the Group of 8 world leaders who had agreed to pretend he was a fellow democrat.
2005年退出职业象棋界后，为了抗议普京越来越独裁的政权，我参与组建了一个反对派联盟，叫“不一样的俄罗斯”(Other Russia)。按照俄罗斯宪法，普京2008年不能参加第二次总统连任竞选，而且当时也不清楚一个已经完全以一个人为中心的权力结构接下来将会发生什么。如果普京完全无视宪法，只是公然继续当一个独裁者，他可能会疏远八国集团(Group of 8)的世界领导人。后者同意假装普京和他们一样，是一个民主主义者。
The Other Russia opposition coalition had live debates, policy papers, platforms — all the things that were absent from the official elections, where the only thing that mattered was who had the Kremlin’s blessing. Rather to my surprise, in 2007 I was the winner of the national primary to choose the coalition’s presidential candidate.
Once I had been selected in a real election that wasn’t official, it was time for me to participate in an official election that was completely fake.
In order to do this, I had to jump through the official and unofficial hoops that had been put in place to prevent unapproved candidates from making it onto a ballot. Two million signatures were needed from all over the country in just one month, a task made even more herculean by the sheer size of Russia. A nominating congress had to be held, an apparently simple chore that became impossible when no hotel would rent a suitable space to us. Even American-owned hotel chains mysteriously canceled our reservations.
While I traveled across the country to campaign, we would find venues suddenly closed for repairs, our flights canceled, our meetings shut down by the police. Nor did I quite manage to stay out of jail, spending five days in a Moscow cell for participating in an “unauthorized rally.”
Rigging an election isn’t only a matter of stuffing ballot boxes. It is not even that “the people who cast the votes don’t decide an election, the people who count the votes do,” as the apocryphal quote attributed to Joseph Stalin has it. By the time the voting begins, the game is already over. Anyone who opposes the regime — from peaceful street protesters to the wealthiest man in the country — is targeted. The Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky spent a decade in prison for daring to support political groups outside of Mr. Putin’s control.
暗箱操纵选举不仅仅是选票作假的问题，甚至不是“决定选举的不是投票者，而是清点选票的人”。这句话据说出自约瑟夫·斯大林(Joseph Stalin)，但真实性可疑。到开始投票时，游戏已经结束了。反对这个政权的任何人，从温和的街头抗议者到全国首富，都成了目标。俄罗斯商人米哈伊尔·霍多尔科夫斯基(Mikhail Khodorkovsky)因为胆敢支持不在普京控制之下的政治团体而在狱中服刑十年。
The fraud that does occur on Election Day is more about showing loyalty and getting the numbers just right to keep up appearances. Busloads of official voters go from polling station to polling station in a tradition we even have a name for: a “carousel.” Sheaves of ballots are dumped into urns while polling officials stand in the way to block the view. Sometimes, the excessive zeal of apparatchiks produces returns of more than 100 percent, as happens regularly in Russian regions like Chechnya.
To this day, I do not like the title “former Russian presidential candidate” because I knew at the start that my name would never appear on a ballot. The former prime minister Mikhail M. Kasyanov was allowed to progress one step further in his own independent run in 2008 — before being disqualified two months later.
我至今仍不喜欢“前俄罗斯总统候选人”这个头衔，因为我一开始就知道，自己的名字永远不会出现在选票上。2008年独立竞选的前总理米哈伊尔·M·卡西亚诺夫(Mikhail M. Kasyanov)获许多前进了一步，但仍在两个月后被取消资格。
The only candidates allowed to run in the presidential election against Mr. Putin’s handpicked successor, the former prime minister Dmitri A. Medvedev, were the same token Communist and the same token nationalist who had been running in every election since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Mr. Medvedev got 71.2 percent, a tactful few tenths of a percentage point less than Mr. Putin received in 2004. Four years later, Mr. Medvedev again switched desks with Mr. Putin, who hadn’t left power for a second regardless of his official title of prime minister. President Obama called Mr. Putin to congratulate him on his election victory, once again, as president.
获准在总统大选中与普京亲自挑选的接班人、前总理德米特里·A·梅德韦杰夫(Dmitri A. Medvedev)竞争的候选人，是那些自苏联解体以来，每届选举都参加的装点门面的共产党人和民族主义者。梅德韦杰夫获得了71.2%的选票，比普京2004年的得票率低零点几个百分点，颇为乖觉。四年后，梅德韦杰夫再次与普京互换岗位；尽管后者在那四年的官方头衔是总理，但他一秒钟都没放下过权力。奥巴马总统致电普京，祝贺他在选举中获胜，再次当选总统。
This is the modern dictatorship, savvy at using the free world’s terms and technology for its own ends. And when fake elections at home aren’t enough, an aggressive campaign of intimidation and disinformation abroad can be very useful. The Russian news leads every day with Mr. Trump and WikiLeaks and how they are supposedly exposing the corrupt reality of American democracy. Mr. Putin can no longer pretend to be a democratic leader, so his goal is to drag everyone else down to his level — and he is doing it with Mr. Trump’s help.
A democracy is as strong as its people believe it to be. It cannot be destroyed from the outside, only from within.