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Donald Doggerel

by Zettel 

Posted: 08 November 2016
Word Count: 115

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Donald Doggerel

Hearts are Trumps
Minds are hers
but hearts and minds
should rule
When truth is just
what we choose
democracy is what
we lose

Bombast braggadocio
and toxic racist slurs
rouse the rabble 
and Tyranny stirs
Fear of other 
preys on fears
Donald ducks the facts
hatred in his sneers

The worst in us
is his aim
bilious animus
is his claim
Hubris demagoguery
conceals the corrosive 
misogyny that serves an
odious philosophy

Beware America when you last
distrusted reason and ignored
the lessons from the past
you gave us war, death tolls soared
you forgot your history 
of trust in law and probity
Trump deserves your obloquy
and your return to sanity

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Comments by other Members

James Graham at 20:14 on 08 November 2016  Report this post
Hello Zettel - I hoped someone would post a trenchant poem about Trump, and on first reading this seems to fit the bill. A more detailed comment will follow.


Cliff Hanger at 21:23 on 08 November 2016  Report this post
Hi Zettel

Perfect subject matter for today and to highlight Trump's (I could write a lot of unflattering words here but I'll be succinct) absurdity. I don't quite catch your meaning in the first verse. Are you saying that hearts and minds should rule together and that we lose democracy when we choose truth? I've read it a few times and I can't quite pin it down (sorry I'm probably reading it wrong). It is particularly strong in the third verse which reads a bit like a clever, topical Dr. Seuss rhyme. 

Excellent poem. I thought I would comment now because I might be feeling despondent tomorrow (I hope not). I've been feeling bemused and unsettled by a tweet I received tonight from some dear friends of mine in the US telling me they were on their way to vote for Trump. Educated, professional, usually liberal and open-minded New Yorkers. Strange times.


AlanRain at 21:24 on 08 November 2016  Report this post

Hello Zettel - I hoped someone would post a trenchant poem about Trump,

Really? Only Trump?
I am thoroughly pissed off with the whole debacle, and I think any political poem that has venting as its reason-to-be will soon become dated.

Zettel at 07:30 on 09 November 2016  Report this post
Liberal democratic values haven't failed us: we have failed (to live up to) them. 

"The Bitch is in heat" (Arturo Ui - Brecht) 

James Graham at 20:42 on 09 November 2016  Report this post
Well, the demagogue has won. I think there’s a place for what Alan calls ‘venting’, though perhaps it should move away from individuals to the broader issues, democracy as it has become.

You have the right tone here: acerbic humour but not too light, because we shouldn’t take Trump too lightly. There’s the odd touch of stand-up-comedian humour – ‘Donald ducks’ – but I can forgive you that one; it’s almost irresistible. The rest is more ‘serious’ humour, as in the word-play ‘Bombast braggadocio’ or ‘bilious animus’. Running through all of it are very telling points about Trump and what he represents, especially in the last two stanzas. For example:
Hubris demagoguery
Conceals the corrosive 
Misogyny that serves an
Odious philosophy

Much of the drive in Trump’s campaign came, I believe, from his need to make sure a woman did not become president. His misogyny is an indicator of a deeper ‘odious philosophy’ – a dedication to the inequality not only of women but of ethnic groups and what used to be called the ‘undeserving poor’.

You final stanza broadens the subject by pointing to American history: the Founding Fathers (whose memory I greatly respect) made a real attempt to found a society based on ‘trust in law and probity’, but it could be said with some justification that with the Vietnam war, which Kennedy started and Nixon escalated, much of that probity was lost. The Iraq war too was a betrayal of the founding values of the Republic. You end with an unequivocal statement:
Trump deserves your obloquy
And your return to sanity

- though Trump’s name should perhaps not be the only one on the list.

Like Jane, I’m confused by these lines:
When truth is just
What we choose
Democracy is what
We lose

They seem to mean ‘When we make a choice based only on truth, we sacrifice democracy’. Is this a misreading?

As I say, I think there’s a place for this kind of poem as a response to contemporary politics. But we also need writing which gets to the heart of the failure of government, democratic or other: human rights abuses, poverty (and astronomical wealth), racism etc.


Zettel at 01:56 on 10 November 2016  Report this post
Thanks all

'When Truth is just.....'

Is meant to gesture towards the most important issue here: in our shameful Brexit campaign as in the US election campaign , no one gave a toss about the truth: only what people can be persuaded to believe.  Equally dangerous is the wholesale ignorance about the difference between an integrated, checks and balances Democratic system and the ‘dictatorship of the majority’ of populism.

(And Jane: the first 4 lines of the opening stanza were meant to suggest that looking at the manner of the campaign, Trump was devoid of argument or consistent analysis, but relied on emotional manipulation of peoples' prejudices and fears - 'hearts' for brevity; while Hillary mounted sound arguments and experienced analysis but could not touch, motivate, people to trust her. My point was that good politicians, statesmen/women understand that what we need is 'infomed hearts' because problems properly analysed still need courage to tackle and remedy: and equally, agonising and empathising over human suffering and injustice needs proper rigorous analysis to properly identify its source if we are to apply effective action to resolve it.

This raises the issue of what has been called 'post-truth politics' where the dominance of the social media is gradually 'democratising' truth into what most people choose to believe. So truth becomes opinion: opinion becomes prejudice; and prejudice becomes ignorant populism. In the end what is lost is first democracy and then freedom itself. 

Of course there could justly be many more names on the list of shame but this was a topical poem about Trump who grap[hically illustrates many of these issues. One could be equally critical about Hillary for different reasons, though lIke you James I think, I do believe there is a profound, hidden misogyny in the systematic way she has been treated throughout, not only by Trump but also by the media. It is a salutary thought buy I think it is possibly true that there was in America a deeper, more widespread  hostility to the idea of a woman President, than even felt towards Obama  as a black President.  Hatred/ fear of women may be one of the darkest, deepest, of our cultural instincts.

I agree with you about the need for poems which get to the heart of the only too apparent litany of failures political and ethical which have marked at least the last 50 years. The cynics will say that politics has never been pure and to a degree that must be true; but in my lifetime I believe that NIxon, especially coming after Kennedy,  marked an ethical 'watershed' where the doctrine of 'preserving deniability' was refined to such a level of perfection that Nixon reached such a point of self-deception that he didn't believe he had done anything wrong becasue he couldn't understand ethically what it was.  Of course we cannot attribute everything to one man, be it Nixon or Trump: but NIxon certainly poisoned the well of American Politics and public life: and all drinkers at a poisoned well die, innocent or not.

Deep hostility for example to immigration common to both Brexit and the Presidential campaigns; and the effects of global capitalism on indigenous jobs etc is driven by the determination of the rich First World to retain and extend their affluence and refuse to allow the 'balancing' effects of Global Corporatism on markets for labour and raw materials represented by 'exporting' jobs to cheaper countries or admitting immigrants from poor countries to enter our countries and share our affluence that way.

Guess we need alot more than one poem to tackle that little lot.  The benefits of Liberal democratic values have been taken as self-evidence for too long: we have to realise that, like freedom, fighting to achieve them is easier that fighting to keep them. That's why we must continue to fight Trump and his odious philosophy and it's corrosive effect on tjhe national psyche and political freedoms. The last nation to forget that first democratically elected Adolf Hitler then succumberd to his demagoguery. (Hence the reference to the 'bitch' - of Fascism -  being in heat.)

Thanks for the coments and the discussion.



James Graham at 20:05 on 10 November 2016  Report this post
First, the lines I said puzzled me.
When truth is just
What we choose
Democracy is what
We lose
I see it now: these lines say that when truth becomes only what people choose to believe, then we sacrifice democracy. I suspect a misreading (‘When we make a choice based only on truth, we sacrifice democracy’) is still possible, but replacing ‘just’ with ‘only’, a minor change, should avoid that. The considerable difference between ‘truth is only/ What we choose’ and ‘only truth is/ What we choose’ becomes clear. I think WW members have sometimes felt that I’m over anxious that poems should be written with some dim-witted reader in mind, but I’m anxious only that poems such as yours, which have something important to say, should always be clear.
I absolutely agree with you about Nixon – and we could add Henry Kissinger, the most unworthy Nobel Peace laureate – who certainly ‘poisoned the well of American politics and public life’, among other things by promising a peace deal with the North Vietnamese and then escalating the war into Laos and Cambodia. At least at that time the peace movement became very strong and helped bring an end to the war. (Though Kissinger got the credit.) If only there could be such a movement against Trump, filling the whole length of Pennsylvania Avenue with protesters. Some sort of mass awakening in which Americans see that the ‘truths’ so many of them chose to believe are merely ‘ignorant populism’.
I agree too about politicians’ hostility towards immigration. It’s largely about corporations’ need to keep poor-world workers at home to supply the sweat-shops.
And we need to go on fighting Trump. US liberals must be in the front line. In a more indirect but no less essential way, Amnesty International (of which I’m a member) will be on the lookout for human rights abuses: police violence, especially against minority groups, and any attempt to reverse the slow trend towards abolition of the death penalty.
The old cliche again: your poem has been very thought-provoking. I try not to use that expression unless it’s true. In this case it certainly is.

AlanRain at 20:37 on 10 November 2016  Report this post

That's why we must continue to fight Trump

And we need to go on fighting Trump.

Such hatred.
Don't forget Mr. Trump was elected by a democracy. The majority of Americans wanted change, and given the state of their country I don't blame them. The fact that actual numbers may have favoured Hillary is down to the peculiarities of the US system.
Donald Trump did what he had to, as others have done in the past and will do in the future. As a political outsider, he played the game very well. And please note that in order for him to win many women had to vote for him. Misogyny is an easy accusation, but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny in reality of votes cast.

Before berating me, (as you would, if you were Americans,) I wish to state that if I had been given a vote, I would have gone for one of the independents. But as Mr. trump won, I for one, wish him well. I am actually quite optimistic.
(Sorry to be deflected, but I never comment on poems that are merely tirades against another human being.) 

Cliff Hanger at 21:05 on 10 November 2016  Report this post
I think I might try to write something about the pressure to 'shut up' after elections. To be sure people are entitled to use their vote as they please but just because someone is popular doesn't by definition make them right or mean that you can't protest their stance on issues that they have just spent eighteen months spelling out in detail. It's not a personal thing against Mr Trump but a personal thing about me that I cannot silently condone racism, sexism, disablism and homophobia. I completely understand the desire to k.o. the establishment but I fear that is just a smokescreen at the moment. I hope I'm wrong and we find out that all that posturing was just attention seeking to garner votes. Let's see.

(sorry I realise I berated you).

I'm glad you're optimistic.


AlanRain at 22:04 on 10 November 2016  Report this post

I'm glad you're optimistic.

My apologies for hijacking the thread, but I think it's important to present a view that's opposed to the view that Mr. Trump's success is a disaster.
So, yes, I am optimistic. I'm a half-full person, not half-empty. I detest negativism. And that's all I seem to hear at the moment.
Call me naive if you like, but I believe President Trump will be nothing like Mr. Trump.

And what do those who protest in the streets want? Something other than democracy? 


Zettel at 01:19 on 11 November 2016  Report this post

I don't believe my poem can fairly be called a:

 tirade(s) against another human being.

nor "merely" so.

I don't "hate" Donald Trump: how could I?  I don't even know him.  But I do detest his on-the-record opinions; and his verified obnoxious behaviour, the first of which he proselytizes shamelessly; and the second for which he shows no real sense of understanding the depth of immorality which they represent.

I reject the accusation of 'tirade'  but my poem is unapologetically. passionately opposed to these opinions and attitudes on the party of a candidatefor the most powerful role in the world which even receny history shows only too disastrously, can affect the lives and well-being of me and mine; the British people; and indeed the world as a whole.  The world? OTT? Well according to Trump Global Warming is a trick of the Chinese. Give me a break.

But it is useful that you have, rather well, made my point for me on the most important issue.

in order for him to win many women had to vote for him. Misogyny is an easy accusation, but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny in reality of votes cast.

The correctness, accuracy, appositeness of accusing Mr Trump of 'mysogyny' is not defined by, decided by, how many women voted for him. The truth of any statement about his mysogyny must be decided by the nature of his comments, behaviour, claimed beliefs and demonstrated attitudes; in relation the the objective meaning of the word/concept. Anyway, many women and spokespersons for even larger groups of women, have made it clear that large numbers of women voted for him in spite of his objectionable attitudes towards women - because they were willing to 'forgive' him this, without condoning it -because they saw other issues as more important. He took 54% of white womens' votes and 44% of all women. But that' another story.

Equally by the way: the fact that 94% of African American voters did not vote for Trump does not in itself make him a racist for exactly the same argument above. Assemble the demonstrable facts however and the accusation can be thoroughly and empirically justified.

That was my main point. And the reason why Trump and many other politicians constitute such a threat to democracy.

Mr Trump has been elected because of the disastrous, culpable disconnect over many years between what Politicans have said/promised and what they have done/delivered.

Fine: I hope he will be judged by the very same criteria. Politicians campaign in a 'media' world but they have to govern in the real world. That an electorate, so justifiably angry with all politicians, should have still fallen for 'non-political' Trump's systematically contradictory and inconsistent promises; many of which no one could deliver because they depend on circumstances outside any one person's or nation's control is one of the sublime msysteries of this result. Even if he can build his bloody 'wall' which I doubt - just how does he propose to ge the Mexican government with an already disastrous economy, to pay for it?

Trump has told the American people what they wanted to hear: that all the most complex problems and issues in a totally inter-dependent world are caused by others, especially immigrants; and are easy to solve with aggressive, uni-lateral action by him.  I'm an optimist too so I wish him the best of luck with that: the jobs in heavy industrial blue-collar production are no longer there , in any part of the world due largely to irreversible developments in technology - nothing to do with immigration.

James - so tempted to go with 'only'  but I like the resonance of 'just; and I think the punctuation changes should have removed ambiguity.



Cliff Hanger at 07:17 on 11 November 2016  Report this post

I guess the full or empty glass scenario depends on what you're drinking.laugh


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