I’m watching Congress debate President Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ budget proposal and I think I’m Lemuel Gulliver shipwrecked in the land of Lilliput.
Play along with me. Shipwrecked among the tiny Lilliputians Gulliver finds a society whose institutions have fallen into corruption, thwarted by contemptible party politics, and absurd wars. (Is this not America, today!?) The Lilliputians, whose small size mirrors their small-mindedness, are avatars for Republicans and Democrats, indulging in petty debates, their political affiliations divided between those who wear high heeled shoes (the progressives) and those who wear low ones (the conservatives). The leaders of the court (McConnell and Pelosi) are those who are best at rope dancing, qualifying them to lead Lilliput to war with neighboring Blefuscu, fighting over which end of an egg should be broken. (Our congress to a tee!)
Next, we find Gulliver abandoned in Brobdingnag, a land of giants. The scale is now reversed, Gulliver a Lilliputian among giants. (Is this not indicative of a once mighty US now reduced in stature?) When Gulliver describes the history of his country to the king of the giants, the monarch denounces Gulliver’s countrymen and women as “the most pernicious Race of little odious Vermin that Nature ever suffered to crawl upon the Surface of the Earth.” The rebuke comes after Gulliver offers to make gunpowder and cannon for the king, who is horrified by the thought of such weaponry. (Fact: The United States spends more on national defense than China, India, Russia, United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and Australia — combined.)
On Gulliver’s third voyage he ends up on the island of Laputa, where the people all have one eye pointing inward and the other upward, so lost in thought that they must be reminded to pay attention to the world around them; its government aloof from the people it rules. Although the farm fields are in ruins and the people are living in squalor, they follow the laws made by the professors of a learned academy in the city, (we call that Congress presiding in Washington, DC) where the scientists undertake such impractical projects as extracting sunbeams from cucumbers. (While the Infrastructure and Jobs Act languishes and the inane wrangles in congress put havoc-wreaking party politics above the needs of the people!)
In the extremely bitter fourth part, Gulliver visits the land of the Houyhnhnms, a race of intelligent horses who are more rational, communal, and benevolent than the brutish and degenerate humanoid race called Yahoos. (Substitute Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, KKK and similar white-supremist, pro-Trump, right-wing extremist organizations). Again, Gulliver describes his country’s government to the head Houyhnhnm, who concludes that the people are no more reasonable than the Yahoos. (Unbalanced and idiotic as in Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, perhaps?).
Jonathan Swift opened his revised 1735 edition of the Travels with a letter from an irate Gulliver convinced that the human species was too depraved to be saved (the Trumpies storming the Capitol on January 6). The book ends with a ranting recluse (if the shoe fits, wear it) warning the Yahoos not to “presume to appear in my sight.” (They won’t be vaccinated!)
The original edition gave no hint that Gulliver’s Travels was not a genuine travel account. Swift and his friends reported stories of gullible readers who took this hoax travel book for the real thing. I rest my case.
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