One-Hit Wonders

The Starting Line editor’s column

Originally published in San Diego Jewish Journal, September 2016 issue

By Natalie Jacobs

I made the mistake of looking at Donald Trump’s Twitter feed late one morning. I was lured in by the promoted ad I’ve been seeing every time I log into our @sdjewishjournal account – “I’m with YOU. I will work hard and never let you down. Make America Great Again!”

Each time I read it, I get Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” song stuck in my head. It’s that line, “never let you down,” that gets me. In Astley’s 1987 usage, he promises to never give you up and never let you down. He also says he’ll never run around and desert you. He will never make you cry, never say goodbye. Finally, he’ll never tell a lie or hurt you. If you watch the music video, you’ll also get contagious head-bobs, overly aggressive finger snaps, and a few carefully placed hip thrusts.

Much like how Rick Astley repeats the “never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down” chorus six times in his three and a half minute song, Donald Trump uses the “never let you down” line in more than just Promoted Tweets. In May, he told the National Rifle Association he will never let them down. He reintroduced the line in his first address at the Republican National Convention, live-tweeted it during Ted Cruz’s combative speech there, and Melania, Trump’s third wife, repeated it on his behalf in her own speech.

It’s not just the vapid and unimaginative line that bothers the writer in me, it’s the boldfaced lie of it that really pushes the panic button in my brain. It was a stretch for Rick Astley to say it to whatever lover he was singing to in that kitchy, joke of a song but the point shouldn’t have to be made that it is an entirely other thing to have a presidential nominee say it. The wonderful thing about this country is that we’re allowed to let each other down with our vast array of opinions and personal perceptions without having to fear death or persecution. How can you look at the problems facing this country and claim that your solutions will not leave anyone feeling overlooked or unheard?

It would be easy to believe Donald Trump, Rick Astley and all of the 80s’ one-hit wonders, but we know real life doesn’t come that easy.

On page 52 of this magazine you will encounter Eva Beim’s reporting on a patchwork of San Diego Jewish seniors who stand befuddled by this election. Many years of voting may not be able to provide the wise words that we’re all looking for to explain what’s happening, but these people’s opinions are worth taking a look at.

Also in the uncomfortable-but-true category for this month, Pat Launer brings us Brenda Adelman’s story of tragedy and forgiveness. It’s not every issue that we get to tell this kind of story, and it comes just in time for the deep introspection of the High Holidays. Also worth noting here, because of the dates of this year’s Holidays, we’ll be covering more Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur themes next month. We hope to see you then.