日期︰2023 年 11 月 4 日
資深政客的「特異功能」/ The "Special Abilities" of Senior Politicians
由於曼欽在民主黨內屬於較為溫和的「中間派」，在個別議題上能夠和共和黨達成共識，因此在民主黨內並不受待見。而且他所在的西弗吉尼亞州本身又是共和黨的票倉，自身的選情較為嚴峻。麥康奈爾看準這一點，成功說服曼欽退出選舉。由於現時民主黨以51 對49 票的微弱優勢控制着參議院，如該州共和黨候選人成功當選，將會加大共和黨奪回參議院控制權的可能性。麥康奈爾本人對此事作為重要政績引以為榮，認為自己在黨內的價值難以被取代。
As mentioned earlier, the aging of the American political arena has become increasingly prevalent. An article on the news website "The Conversation" suggests that one of the reasons for this phenomenon is the advancement of medical science, which allows older individuals to maintain better health and delay retirement. Additionally, the article points out that cognitive and psychological factors play a significant role in keeping these seasoned politicians active in the political stage.
The author believes that the motivation for these politicians to continue working lies in their attitude of "refusing to grow old" and a lack of other interests. Older individuals often want to prove their ability to be self-sufficient and not rely on others. As for the latter, the article suggests that these politicians have been so immersed in their work for a long time that they lack personal time to explore their passions and hobbies. This leaves them unsure of how to face the remaining years of their lives once they leave their positions.
On the cognitive level, a considerable number of senior politicians maintain a sense of superiority that they cannot be replaced. As mentioned earlier, an example is Senate Minority Leader McConnell, who had two instances of losing consciousness in front of reporters. As a seasoned political operator, McConnell takes great pride in his ability to formulate election strategies and engage in lobbying. An article on the well-known news website "Politico" details how McConnell successfully instigated Democratic Senator Manchin to withdraw from next year's Senate election and hinted at a possible presidential run. This indirectly helped the Republican Party in the election in West Virginia and "eroded" Biden's votes.
Since Manchin is considered a more moderate "centrist" within the Democratic Party and can find common ground with Republicans on certain issues, he is not well-received within the Democratic Party. Moreover, West Virginia, where he is from, is a Republican stronghold, making his own electoral prospects more challenging. McConnell recognized this and successfully persuaded Manchin to withdraw from the election. With the current Democratic Party holding a slim majority of 51 to 49 in the Senate, if a Republican candidate wins in that state, it will increase the likelihood of Republicans regaining control of the Senate. McConnell himself takes pride in this achievement and believes that his value within the party is irreplaceable.
The above example can be seen as evidence of the saying, "Old ginger is spicier." Perhaps the reason for the aging of the American political arena today is that these senior politicians possess the strategic thinking and vision that younger politicians lack.
美國政壇高齡化 / Aging in the American Political Arena
As 2024 approaches, the United States is gearing up for another election cycle. In addition to the quadrennial presidential election, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 34 seats in the Senate will also be up for election in 2024.
Currently, several politicians from the Republican and Democratic parties have announced their candidacy for the presidential race. This includes the incumbent President Biden seeking re-election, former President Trump, who has been contemplating a comeback, as well as former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and current Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, among others.
While the list appears star-studded, the American public seems more concerned about the age of these candidates. Biden and Trump are already in their 80s and 77s, respectively, and voters worry about their physical condition and whether they are fit to handle the demanding duties of the presidency.
The aging of presidential candidates reflects a broader trend of aging in the American political arena. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union's statistics, the average age of U.S. senators is 64, ranking seventh highest in the world. Additionally, many of Washington's key officials and political leaders are older individuals. For example, Treasury Secretary Yellen (77), Federal Reserve Chairman Powell (70), and Senate Republican Leader McConnell (81) are all advanced in age. Former Speaker of the House Pelosi, who is 83 years old, has recently announced her intention to run for re-election to the House of Representatives. Some of these individuals' health conditions seem less than ideal, with Biden experiencing multiple falls and injuries and frequently making verbal gaffes in public. McConnell has also had two episodes of losing consciousness for over 20 seconds and 30 seconds on camera.
On the other hand, there are also elderly lawmakers who insist on serving until their last moments. For example, Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who passed away in September, initially took a leave of absence in February due to a shingles diagnosis but chose to remain in office for an additional two months while on sick leave.
Looking back, former President George H.W. Bush retired at the age of 68 after losing his re-election bid in 1992. Why has the American political arena become increasingly dominated by older individuals today?
An article published on the news website "The Conversation" on November 6 provides insights into the reasons behind this trend. One key factor is the advancement of medical science, which has led to increased life expectancy. Many seniors today are physically and mentally healthy, and they have accumulated valuable life and work experience, making them suitable for continuing their day-to-day duties, including in politics. The detailed discussion of other factors will be covered in the next installment.
中美學術界全面脫鈎（三）/ Decoupling Between Chinese and American Academic Circles (Part 3)
In the previous articles, it was mentioned that American politicians, in an effort to curb the growth of China's technology industry, have used administrative measures to sever academic exchanges between the two countries, in order to prevent technology leaks. One of the most controversial actions implemented by the U.S. Department of Justice is the "China Initiative," which can be considered a "witch hunt" against Chinese scientists.
The China Initiative was announced by former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in November 2018, with the aim of identifying and prosecuting all "technology spies" with connections to China who are operating in the United States. According to The Economist article, the initiative has been less effective than anticipated. Around 150 Chinese-American scholars have been investigated by the Department of Justice under this initiative. In the cases where successful prosecutions have occurred, the defendants have faced relatively minor charges such as fraudulently obtaining research funding, rather than espionage charges. In many cases, the Department of Justice has been unable to find sufficient evidence to prove that the suspects were engaged in any espionage activities for China, resulting in the charges being dropped and becoming a subject of ridicule. One notable failed case of the China Initiative is the investigation against Professor Gang Chen at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Professor Gang Chen is a Chinese mechanical engineer who obtained his doctoral degree in the United States. An article in The New York Times pointed out that the FBI arrested Professor Chen in January 2021, accusing him of failing to disclose his connections to China in his research funding applications. However, MIT supported Professor Chen, and the FBI failed to find substantial evidence for prosecution, leading to the case being dropped by the Department of Justice. Nevertheless, the incident has caused damage to Professor Chen's reputation and career.
Apart from Professor Chen, many other Chinese scholars have lost their jobs and have even been included in the U.S. government's "no-fly list," preventing them from traveling to, transiting through, or leaving the United States by air, due to being investigated under the China Initiative.
Eventually, due to the lack of significant results, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the end of the China Initiative in February 2022, after several years of implementation.
In fact, if Chinese and American academic circles completely decouple, it would be detrimental to both sides, as they can complement each other in different technological fields. A research report published by the University of Arizona in 2020 showed that the number of scientific and engineering papers published by the United States experienced a slight decline between 2014 and 2018 because co-authored papers with Chinese scholars were not included in the calculations. It can be said that this approach has backfired. Therefore, I believe that China and the United States should adhere to the principles of equality and mutual benefit, set aside biases, and quickly restore academic exchanges and cooperation between the two sides.