Yes, the Republican Senate makes me think of the whole story Lewis Carroll wrote in Through the Looking Glass., which just happens to include the presence of Humpty Dumpty.
Remember the nursery rhyme, written in ages past?
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
Through the Looking Glass opens when Alice goes through a mirror to see what lies on the other side. This is not unlike the adventure Americans entered on the morning after the 2016 presidential election. It was the onset of a clear demarcation between the world we had known and the world that we had suddenly become. (Unlike Alice, though, we haven’t found our way out just yet.)
When Alice meets Humpty in Carroll’s story, he says nothing that makes sense. He believes in himself above all else. His existence is supreme. And our own Humpty Dumpty arrived in the person of Donald Trump, though I doubt even Carroll could have imagined a character with such an inflated belief in his own supremacy.
But wait! Carroll’s Humpty has neighbors — and they speak Jabberwocky, which sounds like this:
Tiuas brillig, and the slithty toves Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:All mimsy were the borogoves, And the mome raths outgrabe.
“It seems very pretty, she [Alice] said…but it’s rather hard to understand!”
Here’s where the Republican Senate comes in. Jabberwocky resonates very well with any conversation carried on before a vote in the U.S. Senate (there is never real debate among the Republican members — agreement is required to get re-elected). Like Jabberwocky, the words Republican senators say have no meaning, no purpose, other than to state their opinions in waffling ways for reasons no one can decipher, and then vote the way they are told to vote by their Senate leaders, in particular the absolutist Mitch McConnell, who they fear almost as much as they fear the man in the WH. Here are a few recent examples of Congressional Republican thought:
- The existence of snow in February refutes climate science. — Opinion accepted by most Republican congressman because WH said so.
- “Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up.” — Mo Brooks
- “ ‘The poor will always be with us’…There’s a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.” — Roger Marshall
- “…the whole idea of diversity is a bunch of crap and un-American.” — Seth Grossman
- “The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term!” — Lindsay Graham
- “I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another…. Our families were strong, our country had a direction.” — Roy Moore
- “Well, bad weather is like rape: if it’s inevitable, you might as well relax and enjoy it.” — Clayton Williams
To translate what these statements mean or why they were spoken does not require looking at the words backwards, which is what Alice had to do with the Jabberwocky she was given. All it requires is that we swallow it whole and say nothing. That satisfies the Republican agenda.
Now, Lewis Carroll gave another, intriguing layer to his story by making each character a chess piece. Alice, of course, is a pawn. She is in a world heavy with rules and structures that seem determined to make her bow to forces that want to control her. Once again, enter the Republican Senate…there is no debate in the mirror world.
But to get back to Humpty Dumpty for a moment…I keep seeing him precariously perched on his wall, unable to articulate anything, but so comfortable with his illogic, so satisfied with himself. But what happens to him in Through the Looking Glass?
First, Alice tell Humpty how much he resembles an egg. This irritates him so he insults her. When she recites the nursery rhyme about him, he interrupts her and demands her name and tells her to state her business. Alice tells Humpty Dumpty her name. Here are some excerpts from Humpty’s perspective:
“My name is Alice, but —”
“It’s a stupid name enough!” Humpty Dumpty interrupted impatiently. “What does it mean?”
“Must a name mean something?” Alice asked doubtfully.
“Of course it must,” Humpty Dumpty said with a short laugh: “my name means the shape I am–and a good handsome shape it is too. With a name like yours, you might be any shape, almost…
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean different things–that’s all.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master–that’s all.”
After Alice leaves the company of Humpty Dumpty, “a heavy crash shook the forest from end to end” and she watches soldiers and horsemen rush by, but they don’t really know how to fix the situation.
One thing is certain. The U.S. Senate Republicans will meet a reckoning. After all, nothing stays the same.
I know that much from my brief sojourn in Alice’s looking glass world.