Contranym Times™

By Gallagher & Schleicher

Americans are experiencing a mix of anticipation, dread, elation, and terror as the 100-day clock on re-electing or retiring Donald Trump begins its countdown. Meanwhile, the killed-by-COVID count reaches 150,000 in the United States. Concurrently, near 10 cities are to be infiltrated by camouflaged, anonymous federal agents who have shown a willingness to teargas a peacefully-protesting “Wall of Veterans,” a “Wall of Moms,” and—admittedly armed with leaf blowers to disperse the airborne chemical weapons—a “Wall of Dads.”

Four more years of this “winning,” this “Making America Great Again,” seems about as appealing as sitting next to unmasked, frequently coughing person on an overnight flight who assures you, “Don’t worry—it’s probably just pneumonia; COVID is a hoax.”

Those who voted for change instead are given chaos. The majority who voted for stability instead have been given a national debt growing at $4.45 trillion a year. The United States continues to lead the world, but now in ways such as being in the top five for Coronavirus deaths per 100,000 population. The world pities and mocks us in equal parts. Need we also mention our unemployment rate is running over 50% higher than that for our European Union allies?

Our present predicament can be tied back to the 1972 Stanford Marshmallow Study. In it, children were put to a choice of an immediate opportunity to eat a marshmallow or wait a bit and receive two. In follow-up studies, those who at an early age demonstrated an ability to delay gratification tended to demonstrate more success in life, apparently even scoring higher on college entrance exams. We need no psychoanalysis by a niece to know Trump would have been the child who ate the marshmallow even before the initial instructions had been given. His inability to delay gratification is as fundamental to his personality as is a lack of empathy.

Someone capable of planning would have approached the Coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to demonstrate leadership and build widespread, long-lasting support by: acknowledging the need for short-term pain, uniting the country behind the cause, taking the advice of the experts, and undertaking a nationwide shutdown with universal wearing of masks. The economic pain would have been enormous but shorter-lived. Had we “acted fast and acted with force” as Denmark proudly did, then we could be closer to its 10.6/100k Coronavirus death rate than our 44.5 per 100k people. Instead the White House disdained national leadership and left us to fend for ourselves.

On the positive side, we are not among those who think Trump will remain in office even if he loses the electoral college vote. For one thing, it would be in his interest to leave a day early, so Pence could pardon him. For another, Trump has alienated enough military leaders that they are unlikely to risk charges of treason to get him an illegal second term. For a third, Chief Justice Roberts (though most reliably conservative when it comes to eroding voter protections) is keenly aware of the value of keeping the Supreme Court out of the political fray and so is unlikely to bless a Bush v. Gore redux.

What to do with your 100 days? What not to do? First, don’t waste them arguing online with Trump supporters. Better to spend your time forwarding a meme that succintcly points out Trump’s hypocrisies and threats to freedom. If you remain employed, give, give, and give some more to the Democratic candidates of your choice. Protest where the opportunity presents itself—disdaining violence and vandalism, while embracing creativity, humor, ridicule, and collaboration. Vote like your life depends on it—it does; let no one stand in the way of you or others doing so. Welcome aboard those who supported Trump before but have seen the error of their ways.

No outcome is guaranteed and an effort by Trump to steal the election is likely. But a landslide of tsunamic proportions can wash out even the most set stains of voter suppression. We see the finish line: this is no time to let the daily anger, disgust, and depression cause you to tune out and stay home.

100 days to save our democracy, walking in step (but six feet away) with allies we could not have imagined would be joining the fight (e.g., George Will, Steve Schmidt, Jennifer Rubin, Mitt Romney). Our internal disagreements may be many but the need to purge the country of the single greatest threat to American freedom since the Axis powers of World War II is not among them. Trump’s default mode will be for 100 days of turpitude. Instead let’s have 100 days of fortitude. You can do this.

 

David Gallagher is a transplanted Texan, living and working in London and tweeting at @TBoneGallagher. David Schleicher is an attorney who represents U.S. federal employees worldwide and Texas business/non-profit clients. You can find their earlier and future columns at www.ContranymTimes.com. To receive their free columns via email sign up here or email them: ContranymTimes@gmail.com. Visit/Like on Facebook via this link

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