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美国国家公共电台 NPR 'A Time To Build' Argues That When Institutions Are Used As S

时间:2020-02-11 01:37来源:互联网 提供网友:nan   字体: [ ]
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Trump1's trial puts American institutions on display. He has an institutional role to play as president, just as people like Adam Schiff or Mitch McConnell have institutional roles in Congress. Americans, over time, have lost faith in many institutions, from churches to schools to companies to the family.

The writer Yuval Levin sees that as a problem he would like to address. In a new book called "A Time To Build," Levin says institutions should mold our behavior, giving us guidelines for what to do.

YUVAL LEVIN: We now think of institutions less as formative and more as performative, less as molds of our character and behavior and more as platforms for us to stand on and be seen. And so from one arena2 to another in American life, we see people using institutions as stages, as a way to raise their profile or build their brand. And those kinds of institutions become much harder to trust.

INSKEEP: Is there a particular ultimate example on your mind?

LEVIN: Politics is an easy example. So think about Congress. Congress can be a very formative institution. It produces a kind of human person. But now Congress is very much a performative institution. Members think of it as a way to raise their profile, to get a better timeslot on cable news or talk radio or a bigger Twitter following. And they use Congress as a platform from which to comment on the culture, to comment on politics, to comment on Congress rather than using the institution as a way to shape themselves to become more effective in our politics...

INSKEEP: Who are you talking about here?

LEVIN: ...To move legislation, change the law.

INSKEEP: Who are you talking about here?

LEVIN: Well, Ted3 Cruz, after every session of the impeachment4 trial that's going on now, hosts a podcast and goes out and comments on what he's just been engaged in doing. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on the Democratic side, uses Congress as a way to become a figure in our culture.

Now, this isn't crazy. And it isn't useless, right? It's important for important public figures to also have a profile in the culture. But when it becomes to replace their inside function, their function within the institution, it makes it much harder for the institution to function and much harder for us to trust it.

INSKEEP: There were people at the time of the election of President Trump who said, don't worry because he's moving into this institutional role of the presidency5, which will constrain6 him. That was the prediction of some at the beginning.

LEVIN: Well, President Trump is the first of our presidents who has not been formed by any of the institutions of public service in our country. Every past president has either been a senior officer in the military or, in most cases, served in other elected office...

INSKEEP: Senator, governor, any...

LEVIN: Yeah - in a way that gave them a kind of understanding of the shape of the institution and of how it might mold them to be effective. President Trump has been a performer his entire adult life, and he's been a performer as president, too. He uses the office of the presidency as a platform from which to comment on the government.

So he'll tweet about the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice works for him. If he thought of himself as an insider rather than an outsider, he would be much more effective at having it do what it wants. And I think part of the problem we see - one way to frame it is that we see a lot of insiders now wishing they were outsiders and acting7 as though they were.

INSKEEP: You make an interesting observation here in that when we think about the loss of faith in institutions, I think of the average person on the street losing faith in the government. But you're writing here about people in the institutions who have lost faith in the institutions.

LEVIN: Yeah - and lost the sense that the purpose of those institutions is really to mold them, to give them a certain shape. I think once the insiders in an institution no longer think of themselves that way, it becomes impossible for people outside that institution to see it that way, and everybody loses respect for it.

INSKEEP: Are there examples in which we've been absolutely right to lose faith in institutions and perhaps their institutional strength was an illusion? An easy example would be the Catholic Church.

LEVIN: Yeah. Well, absolutely right is not quite the right way to think about it. I think we have to expect our institutions to be formative in an ethical8 way. The fact that people within an institution feel like they ought to be better than they are is not a failure of that institution. That's how it functions. The fact that it demands of them that they ask the fundamental question - given my role here, how should I behave? - that's how institutions make us better.

INSKEEP: I think you're telling me that if the Catholic Church responds to years and years and years and years of scandals over sexual abuse by saying, we have failed and we must improve, that is a sign of at least potential strength of the institution.

LEVIN: Exactly. We can't stand and say, well, what do you expect? That's how people in power behave. Instead, we should say, we expect a lot better than this. People in power owe us more than this.

INSKEEP: If you'll forgive me, I think that the - what do you expect? - phrase is exactly the rhetorical style of the president. Whatever you accuse me of doing, everybody does that. They've always done that. Obama did that. This is what he says again and again and again.

LEVIN: Absolutely. I think that's one of the effects that Trumpism has had on our politics is a lowering of expectations that makes it very hard for us to come back from the kinds of problems we've encountered in our politics. We have to be able to say people with power have certain obligations - and not just as outsiders watching people in power. All of us have some roles to play within some institutions, even if that's our family, our community, our workplace, let alone national institutions and politics and the economy. We each have to say, given my role here, what's my responsibility?

INSKEEP: I'm thinking now, seriously, about the institution in which we are sitting, a news organization...

LEVIN: Yeah.

INSKEEP: ...In which I have a particular institutional role - to be impartial9 and to listen and to learn and be rigorous and attack things that seem false. I may also have personal opinions, but that's not part of my institutional role. I'm supposed to leave that out.

LEVIN: Right.

INSKEEP: There are people who, as a matter of faith almost, don't believe in that separation anymore. The only thing they're interested in is my supposed bias10. What do I do with that?

LEVIN: Yeah. I think that what you're pointing to here is the way in which professions are institutions. And what professions offer us as institutions is a framework - a set of ideals and principles and norms and rules - that help us trust people, that help us believe that some people have expertise11 in some areas while others don't.

So the loss of trust in journalism12, I think, has in part to do with a general collapse13 of trust and expertise. But it also has to do with the way that some professional journalists have allowed themselves to be pulled out of the institutions that empower them with that kind of trust and to stand on a platform on their own, building their own brands on social media and on cable news, offering opinion in ways that are very hard to tell apart from the professional work they do and making it hard for people to know if they should be trusted.

INSKEEP: Aren't the incentives14 all in the other way?

LEVIN: That's the trouble. The incentives are very powerful in the other way in journalism, in politics, in a lot of the professional world, in the academy. And so really, in some ways, the purpose of writing a book like this is to surface that problem, to help us see institutions, understand what they are and recognize why those incentives are dangerous, right? And members of Congress could change the way Congress work. They could do it on their own, but they have to want to. And I think that's true in all of our institutions. And it means that, first of all, we have to see the problem in these terms.

INSKEEP: Yuval Levin is the author of "A Time To Build: From Family And Community To Congress And The Campus, How Recommitting To Our Institutions Can Revive The American Dream." Thank you.

LEVIN: Thanks very much.

(SOUNDBITE OF NEIL COWLEY TRIO'S "MEYER")


点击收听单词发音收听单词发音  

1 trump LU1zK     
n.王牌,法宝;v.打出王牌,吹喇叭
参考例句:
  • He was never able to trump up the courage to have a showdown.他始终鼓不起勇气摊牌。
  • The coach saved his star player for a trump card.教练保留他的明星选手,作为他的王牌。
2 arena Yv4zd     
n.竞技场,运动场所;竞争场所,舞台
参考例句:
  • She entered the political arena at the age of 25. 她25岁进入政界。
  • He had not an adequate arena for the exercise of his talents.他没有充分发挥其才能的场所。
3 ted 9gazhs     
vt.翻晒,撒,撒开
参考例句:
  • The invaders gut ted the village.侵略者把村中财物洗劫一空。
  • She often teds the corn when it's sunny.天好的时候她就翻晒玉米。
4 impeachment fqSzd5     
n.弹劾;控告;怀疑
参考例句:
  • Impeachment is considered a drastic measure in the United States.在美国,弹劾被视为一种非常激烈的措施。
  • The verdict resulting from his impeachment destroyed his political career.他遭弹劾后得到的判决毁了他的政治生涯。
5 presidency J1HzD     
n.总统(校长,总经理)的职位(任期)
参考例句:
  • Roosevelt was elected four times to the presidency of the United States.罗斯福连续当选四届美国总统。
  • Two candidates are emerging as contestants for the presidency.两位候选人最终成为总统职位竞争者。
6 constrain xpCzL     
vt.限制,约束;克制,抑制
参考例句:
  • She tried to constrain herself from a cough in class.上课时她竭力忍住不咳嗽。
  • The study will examine the factors which constrain local economic growth.这项研究将考查抑制当地经济发展的因素。
7 acting czRzoc     
n.演戏,行为,假装;adj.代理的,临时的,演出用的
参考例句:
  • Ignore her,she's just acting.别理她,她只是假装的。
  • During the seventies,her acting career was in eclipse.在七十年代,她的表演生涯黯然失色。
8 ethical diIz4     
adj.伦理的,道德的,合乎道德的
参考例句:
  • It is necessary to get the youth to have a high ethical concept.必须使青年具有高度的道德观念。
  • It was a debate which aroused fervent ethical arguments.那是一场引发强烈的伦理道德争论的辩论。
9 impartial eykyR     
adj.(in,to)公正的,无偏见的
参考例句:
  • He gave an impartial view of the state of affairs in Ireland.他对爱尔兰的事态发表了公正的看法。
  • Careers officers offer impartial advice to all pupils.就业指导员向所有学生提供公正无私的建议。
10 bias 0QByQ     
n.偏见,偏心,偏袒;vt.使有偏见
参考例句:
  • They are accusing the teacher of political bias in his marking.他们在指控那名教师打分数有政治偏见。
  • He had a bias toward the plan.他对这项计划有偏见。
11 expertise fmTx0     
n.专门知识(或技能等),专长
参考例句:
  • We were amazed at his expertise on the ski slopes.他斜坡滑雪的技能使我们赞叹不已。
  • You really have the technical expertise in a new breakthrough.让你真正在专业技术上有一个全新的突破。
12 journalism kpZzu8     
n.新闻工作,报业
参考例句:
  • He's a teacher but he does some journalism on the side.他是教师,可还兼职做一些新闻工作。
  • He had an aptitude for journalism.他有从事新闻工作的才能。
13 collapse aWvyE     
vi.累倒;昏倒;倒塌;塌陷
参考例句:
  • The country's economy is on the verge of collapse.国家的经济已到了崩溃的边缘。
  • The engineer made a complete diagnosis of the bridge's collapse.工程师对桥的倒塌做了一次彻底的调查分析。
14 incentives 884481806a10ef3017726acf079e8fa7     
激励某人做某事的事物( incentive的名词复数 ); 刺激; 诱因; 动机
参考例句:
  • tax incentives to encourage savings 鼓励储蓄的税收措施
  • Furthermore, subsidies provide incentives only for investments in equipment. 更有甚者,提供津贴仅是为鼓励增添设备的投资。 来自英汉非文学 - 环境法 - 环境法
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TAG标签:   NPR  美国国家电台  英语听力
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