I’ve had an annoying little song playing over and over in my head for a few days. When I was a little kid back in the ’50s, we had a 45rpm record called “Topsy-Turvy Town”. It was one of those silly kids’ songs about a place where everything was the opposite of the way things really are. Of course the reason it’s popped back into my consciousness is because it feels like Topsy-Turvy America right now. The new administration wants us to believe them when they tell us that “When you look to the front, you see to the rear”, or “When you open your eyes, that’s when you can hear”. Have a listen to to “Topsy-Turvy Town by clicking here. (Warning: Don’t listen to it more than once or you’ll still have it in your head 60 years from now, like I do.)
Little kids laugh at the ridiculous. They find a backwards, upside down, world funny, precisely because they know what the truth is. Even a 4-year old understands this kind of humor. Of course the trees are not blue and the river brown, as the song tells us. Now as adults, we laugh at the Donald, KellyAnne and Sean characters on Saturday Night Live. But then frustration, even anger, take over, because the SNL version of Topsy-Turvy Town is not fictional — it’s really happening. So after a good laugh, we get serious and try to figure out what we can do about the mess we’re in.
TrumpTweets are now part of each days news. Because his opinions are not often based on facts, the tweets range from laughable, to self-aggrandizing, to mean-spirited, to jingoistic, to offensive, all the way to downright dangerous. This President’s use of Twitter is perhaps the most noticeable way the he is different than his predecessors, because he’s the first POTUS to expose his impetuous and narcissistic nature so immediately, publicly, and vociferously. He has no filters and he sees no value in getting any.
His other forms of communication are no less troubling, however. We’ve all seen plenty of wince-worthy (if not scream at the TV-worthy) moments already. Even many of his supporters hoped that President Trump would act a little more “normal” or “presidential” after he was elected. It hasn’t happened. His staunch supporters say that an unpredictable rogue is what they wanted, his lukewarm, but-he’s-better-than-Hillary voters are getting increasingly uncomfortable, and the rest of us are horrified.
Because he (and his hench-people) are SO outrageous, and so consistent in their level of outlandishness, I’m worried that there’s a danger that some of us will become accustomed to this noise, this distractive clutter, this barrage of blunders, and the lack of connection to facts. I fear that some in the Republican Party have already adjusted their level of acceptable lies and pernicious attacks from their President. Too many seem to have found a place in their minds where this President’s tenuous relationship with the truth is somehow manageable to them. David Brooks wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times last week calling out the “Republican Fausts” who have made a deal with him to get what they want. To quote Mr. Brooks, “The Republican Fausts are in an untenable position. The deal they’ve struck with the devil comes at too high a price. It really will cost them their soul.”
I hope we don’t lose our soul as a nation. I hope we don’t adjust our standards of decency, fairness, human dignity, and pursuit of the truth. I hope we don’t get warn down — not the slightest bit — by the daily bucket of bullshit being dumped on us by this administration and change out standards for how big of a bucket is acceptable.
When I restarted this blog on the first day of this year, I hadn’t intended it to be a political diatribe. But, since January 20, we’ve begun to see how serious our situation is. If I really am committed to “pay attention”, then that YUGE elephant in every room in America has to be paid attention to. He really is as bad as we thought he’d be. “Give him a chance” is not an option now, if it every was. Every day’s news makes it more difficult to see our way out of this. But we can’t stop looking for a way forward, can’t stop speaking up, can’t stop calling nonsense by its true name.
Oh, and one more line from the song:
“They call it a crowd when there’s no one at all, in Topsy-Turvy Town.”
How did they know about that 64 years ago?