A topsy-turvy Washington order

"The world turned  upside down…" 

From the great musical "Hamilton," that line captures not only America in 1776, but in 2019 as well. In the political chaos of recent years, Republicans and Democrats seem to have switched identities in a number of startling ways.

After President Donald Trump recently congratulated The People’s Republic of China on the 70th anniversary of its communist revolution, he asked the Chinese to investigate his chief rival in the 2020 election (an impeachable offense). The left collectively gasped, while many on the right yawned. How could any conservative commie hater not be horrified by this?

In a summit meeting with Vladimir Putin, when the Russian leader swore he would never hack our elections (wink, wink), Trump took his word over U.S. intelligence agencies. More shrugs from the right.

Not to mention Republicans’ muted reaction when Trump said he had “fallen in love” with North Korea’s murderous leader Kim Jong Un.

What gives?

For most of the 20th century, Republicans fought against what they deemed the communist threat, just as they were staunch defenders of those trying to ferret out communists here and abroad, such as our CIA and FBI, two agencies many on the left held under suspicion. Now the script has been flipped, with much of the left viewing those two institutions as the last guardians of U.S. democracy, while some on the right regard them as part of a sinister ‘deep state.”

And it’s not just in foreign affairs that our political world seems to have turned topsy turvy. One of the pillars of the Republican Party has been its belief in fiscal conservatism and balanced budgets, while Democrats were scorned as tax-and-spend liberals, piling up our national debt.

However, the last few decades might give you second thoughts about that stereotype as well.

The federal deficit nearly doubled under Republican President Ronald Reagan, from around $80 billion to $160 billion. Republican George H.W. Bush then boosted it to more than $250 billion, while Democrat Bill Clinton erased that and left us with a $128 billion surplus. Republican George W. Bush blew it back up to $1.4 trillion, while Democrat Barack Obama cut it in half to about $600 billion. Trump has zoomed the deficit to a trillion dollars and counting. 

Upside down, indeed.

Follow playwright Mike Vogel at @mikewrite7.