Trapped in the Political Upside Down

Bruce Lear lives in Sioux City and has been connected to Iowa’s public schools for 38 years. He taught for eleven years and represented educators as an Iowa State Education Association regional director for 27 years until retiring. He can be reached at  

Starting in 2016, Netflix streamed Stranger Things, a horror, science fiction series set in a small Indiana town with tweens and teens as main characters. In its four seasons, the audience travels to the “Upside Down,” an alternate universe where bizarre replaces normal.

It’s fun fiction.

But in real life, we have veered into the “Political Upside Down.”

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem (who wants to be Donald Trump’s vice presidential pick) wrote a book including a story about her gunning down her mischievous puppy. I think she believed it made her seem tough. It didn’t work. Turns out Trump bragging he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes stirred up less of a scandal than Kristi’s story about puppy murder.

Even though her book is titled No Going Back, she went back and deleted part of it. She lied about meeting the dictator of North Korea, and then did a book tour where she refused to admit the lie. She explained she doesn’t talk about leaders she met. Yet her book is full of stories about the leaders she met.

We recently learned that Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., an anti-vaxxer and third-party presidential candidate, said in a 2012 deposition that a worm ate part of his brain and then died. That explains a lot. But some polls show he may pull 10 percent of the vote.

For the first time in history, a former U.S. president is on trial in criminal court. He’s also been indicted in three other cases, but those trials will likely be delayed until after the election. If elected in November, he may be able to shut down all of those cases.

The former president and presumptive Republican nominee is accused of falsifying records about paying hush money to a porn star he had a one-night stand with. She testified under oath that he told her she reminded him of his daughter.

But that’s not all. The vice presidential wannabes and other Trump loyalists have lined up outside the courtroom to verbally attack the trial judge, the trial judge’s daughter, and the witnesses. Trump was under a gag order not to disparage them, so they did it for him. They even dressed like their hero in dark suits with red ties. No word yet who won least congenial.

Equally weird was when Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird showed up outside the Manhattan courthouse to say, “Politics has no place in a court of law.” Ironic, don’t you think?

Even though most Americans saw it live on TV, Trump and his followers want people to believe January 6 wasn’t a big deal, and people now serving prison time are really misunderstood hostages deserving pardons.

If Trump is convicted, a major political party will nominate a presidential candidate with a felony record for the first time in history. In some states, he would be permanently ineligible to vote, but still able to be elected president.

That’s not normal.

Iowa government isn’t immune from the “Upside Down” either.

A couple of years ago, the Iowa Senate president wanted to throw teachers in jail for distributing “obscene material or hard-core pornography.” Not only were teachers accused of being pornography peddlers, they were also called “groomers” and “woke.”

During this year’s legislative session, Republicans decided to allow those untrustworthy teachers to carry guns and gave them qualified immunity from prosecution, if they missed the intruder and shot innocent people, like a student, a lunch lady, or another teacher.

Republicans also passed a law creating a new state crime of “illegal reentry” for any immigrant in Iowa who had previously been deported, denied admission, removed from the U.S., or ordered to leave. Law enforcement officials told them this law was unenforceable because they didn’t have information on individual immigrants, and the law would require widespread and illegal profiling of anyone who might look like an immigrant. The state will now defend the law against two separate federal lawsuits.

The exit from the “Upside Down” is through the ballot box. We need candidates who show common sense and reject quick solutions for nonexistent problems. 

About the Author(s)

Bruce Lear