Contranym Times™

By Gallagher & Schleicher

Imagine the unbridled joy 75 years ago as crowds poured into the streets to celebrate the World War II victory over the fascists in Europe (V-E Day). Then three months later as the church bells again rang, this time over the defeat of Japan’s theistic monarchy (V-J Day). At last the hundreds of thousands of American soldiers who gave their lives and the nation’s years of other profound sacrifices were proven not to have been in vain. Democracy triumphed.

Now imagine the streets filling with elated crowds on November 4, 2020, as they revel in Donald Trump’s defeat at the ballot box and likewise rejoice on January 20, 2021, as another president takes office. It may be Elizabeth Warren. Perhaps Bernie Sanders. Could be Michael Bloomberg. But whoever it is, in this vision it is not Donald Trump.

No, in this story neighbors and family members who haven’t spoken for years consider rapprochement. The business community breathes a sigh of relief at the increase in predictability and reduction in chaos. Those with family serving in the military sleep easier, knowing that a war with Iran or another foe at least will not start by careless tweet. Parents no longer have to explain to their children why bullying is not OK for them but was OK for Donald.

Mitt Romney and Mike Pence meet to discuss how to rebuild the Republican Party, or perhaps how to start a new one. American allies around the world breathe a sigh of relief. Autocrats across the globe mourn the loss of a friend. Uncle Sam and Lady Justice are seen walking hand in hand down Pennsylvania Avenue with a spring in their step. Calls to abolish the electoral college are abandoned. QAnon and other “very fine people” go back to the drawing board.

With another stone from the temple of Democracy falling to the ground every day, it’s easy to forget that hate, divisiveness and darkness have been defeated before and can be again. As happened in 1945, the forces of fascism and those who would prefer to be ruled by a monarchy claiming God’s blessing can be vanquished. But as then, it will not be a slam dunk. Victory will require strategy, allies who don’t fight among themselves, lots of money, a bit of luck, and a strength of will based on the knowledge that losing would mark the end of the world as we know it.

Once Victory over Trump (V-T Day) has entered the annals of history, we can go back to fighting over what we now realize are by comparison the smaller things: questions like whether the safety net should be strengthened (democratic socialism) or left as is; should the budget deficit be $1 trillion or $2 trillion a year; and ought we keep 24,000 soldiers in South Korea or maybe 12,000?

Former enemies in Congress can join in passing laws requiring presidents to release their taxes, put their assets in a blind trust and strengthen laws prohibiting nepotism and protecting whistleblowers. We can explore how much room Article II might allow between a president and decisionmaking at the Department of Justice.

The last three years have revealed that the single greatest obstacle standing between Donald Trump and running the country as if he were Mussolini is simply this: time.

Four more years, leading to hundreds of additional Trump-friendly judges and a further-gelded Congress, is all it would take. You not only can be part of stopping that horror — you must be.

Otherwise calamity will happen on your watch and you must explain to your grandchildren why the earth has turned against us, why the words of the Constitution don’t mean what they used to, and how this great experiment in government by, for and of the people failed. Why the shining city on the hill has gone dark, wrapped in high walls of concrete and paranoia.

Fight, citizens. With your might. Your money. Your time. Then we’ll see you among the throngs of patriotic citizens filling our streets on V-T Day. The Greatest Generation would expect no less of us.

David Gallagher is a transplanted Texan, living and working in London and tweeting at @TBoneGallagher. David Schleicher is an attorney splitting his time between Waco and D.C., blogging at ContranymTimes.com. This piece originally appeared in the February 16, 2020 Waco Tribune-Herald, where the Davids are on the Board of Contributors.

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