He could have been a half-way decent human being—

without the excess money, alcohol, sex addiction, partying,

gambling disguised as business deals.


We could have done better without judges on the take,

payoffs, greedy, crooked politicians brokering power

by encouraging misogyny, racism, bigotry, blaming,



What is it in our culture, religions, philosophies

that make these marketing ploys so enticing?

These sound bites that encourage victim-hood,

that enable this believe-what-I-say-not-what-I-do



We still believe logic, reason, engagement, compromise

will soften what our leaders have become.

We ignore the hard truth that we voted

for the very ones who demonstrate

nihilistic, narcissistic, naked contempt . . . .


He could have done better without his excessive need for

supplicating, boot-licking, brown-nosing, groveling



We could have been less complicit in joining ranks

with these shammers, power brokers, people

who glitter with no substance,

greedy voices who control us by encouraging

self-righteous, judgmental, self-serving fear.


We could have done better had we paid attention,

had we refused to accept bullying rhetoric,

erratic behavior, overtures to our basest natures.


We could have done better if we had not

bought into take-no-prisoners,


impossible solutions.


© 2017   T J Barnum

First published in “Better Than Starbucks.”


4 thoughts on “Trumpism

  1. Mark, I looked closely at my poem to see if I could figure out what made it “cutesy.” The poem is hard hitting, uses strong words, and really qualifies more as a mini-rant. I even tried setting it to music, but the lyrics just didn’t go with any “cutesy” music. Hard-rock music, maybe. Or possibly even hip-hop. At any rate, your comment inspired me to go to work on the poem again to see if I can make it stronger, longer, and perhaps even a little more hard-hitting. I certainly do not want it to be “cutesy.”
    Just a couple of comments concerning your remark about Trump being “the best thing to happen to our country for a long time.”
    The President needs to be somewhat more diplomatic than calling other countries “shitholes.” But then, what do you expect from someone who has rather consistently make a multitude of racist and misogynistic remarks? But hey, “boys will be boys,” right? That’s rather “cutesy.”
    Not only has Trump gutted the EPA and pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, because why try to forestall global warming? Oh wait! That’s climate change. Nope! Can’t use that language. We will have to settle for “weather extremes.” And let’s stop what’s left of White House staff from communicating, or (heaven forbid) recording what is said by taking away their cell phones. Censorship can be so “cutesy.”
    Key positions in the Trump Administration continue to go unfilled, including critical ambassador positions at the State Department. I’ve actually watched with amazement at the amount of White House staff turnover, with many more planning on exiting at Trump’s one-year mark in office. Between his firing people and others leaving because of stuff like . . . oh, I don’t know, collusion with Russia over election tampering and money-laundering–what else is that but “cutesy?”
    Holding DACA children hostage in order to build a wall at the Mexico border. Rescinding the visas of 262,500 people from El Salvador who will be killed if forced to return to their country. Trump receiving praise from the KKK, neo-Nazis and white nationalist groups. Ramping up the threat of nuclear war with North Korea (and God only knows who else will jump on that band wagon if missiles start flying). Alienating our allies in Europe, the United Nations, and most of the rest of the world. Further inflaming the situation in the Middle East by moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Yep, all of this is definitely “cutesy.”
    I’ve barely scratched the surface in discussing this disaster of a president. But because of your literary critique, I must get busy on making this poem into something a little less “cutesy.” When I’m finished, I’ll enter it into a Poetry Slam.

    1. Mark G.

      The problem (from your perspective) with Trump is that he isn’t a politician. Believe it or not I voted for Obama, once because he sounded like a politician who might actually do things differently as promised, and the second time because I considered it fair play to let him have the full go.

      What did he get done? Virtually nothing. Was it his fault? No, but that doesn’t change the math. We needed hope AND change, in the end we have neither.

      Opposition to Obama’s presidency was unprecedented. Do you believe president Clinton would have faired any better? The POLITICAL climate is what you should be focused on right now, global warming is and always would have been addressed by the markets.

      The United States is a 250 year old operating system which has had only 17 upgrades (constitutional amendments) since it was first installed. The people we elect to keep things running have become worse than bugs in that system. Sometimes you have to reinstall and that means you lose a lot of what you had – good and bad – but I believe the reality of it is we can’t keep going as we have been, with politicials promising what needs doing and more politicians standing in the way.

      I don’t like everything Trump has done or said. I’m no single-issue voter. I do like not being penalized because I can’t afford the ridiculous cost of health insurance in my area. I do like the fact that Kentucky is requiring able-bodied medicaid recipients to at the very least volunteer 80 hours per month in exchange for that benefit. I have no doubt other states will follow.

      I like companies handing out wage increases and bonuses because of the tax overhaul, perhaps little more than PR, but does anyone believe AT&T or WalMart would have done so otherwise? More companies will follow.

      From my perspective I’m seeing a lot of change, I have hope for more. If Trump is found to have actually colluded with the Russians, I will be first in line calling for his head, but I will tell you I don’t trust a president Pence any further than I could throw him.

      You like poetry. I like riddles, and I have one for you. What do you call a continent with some of the highest rates of rape, murder, war crimes, and corruption in all the world? A SHITHOLE.

      1. To answer your last question/comment first: Failed states are always “shitholes.” So are some countries who are still functioning. Seems to me, we are earning that title very quickly, in large part, due to Trump’s erratic, undiplomatic, and dangerous behavior. Nor is he doing the majority of Americans any favors, in spite of what die-hard Trump fans think. He’s a rich man’s president. Just what the elite could buy. And he’s a racist. That causes a multitude of issues for a pluralistic society like ours.
        Now, here is your due: I also was disappointed in Obama’s presidency. The Republicans became ‘the Party of No” under his presidency for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was their bigotry, which if anyone doubted then, can certainly see it now. But there was more that he could have done, starting with being a tougher negotiator (he was too inexperienced) and being more willing to build a stronger network of alliances. (He seemed to lack a certain extroversion that would have helped here.) Having said all that, I agree with you that political opposition was overpowering.
        Do I think Hillary would have done any better? At this point, the question is academic. She certainly would have been more stable and consistent. But, like the fierce opposition Obama faced because he was Black, she would have faced the same for being a woman. We are nothing if not a racist and misogynistic society.
        Still, there were a number of reasons to doubt her honesty and veracity. We weren’t given much choice in this last election. There was a joke going around at the time “Choosing between Hillary and Trump is like trying to decide which STD you want.”
        I grew up in a racist household. It seems if that happens, you choose to embrace it, or become the opposite. I would have taken a flawed Hillary over the bigot we ended up with any day.
        We couldn’t afford the high cost of health insurance during that time period either. So we took the penalty. If you read the congressional record, you will see the reason why the premiums were so high was that the Republicans pushed for that, and won that fight. The premiums were reasonable when the bill was first introduced. Not that it matters now. Health care premiums will continue to skyrocket. And each side will blame the other, when they should be blaming the bloated insurance cartel. Yes, I believe they are a cartel, like the drug companies. Cartel.
        This is getting long, and I would like to address all your points. But I have been told by the computer gurus I live with that nobody reads long messages. I know you will. 🙂
        A couple of things I will say. Throwing the baby out with the bath water is never a good idea. I don’t think Pence is any improvement either, and he could be even more dangerous, as he is smarter. It is for sure our nation has become an Oligarchy. The question is, will we survive the coming disasters? Enemies within and without. Traitorous politicians. The 6th Great Extinction (and no, the market won’t fix it). Deep divisions aggravated by those who stand to gain from our infighting. Things can change for the worse in an instant. Ask the survivors of Hitler’s Germany.
        We need to find common ground. Soon.

  2. Mark G.

    Cutesy poetry aside, if you took a minute to look at what’s been going on since Trump was elected, you would see he is the best thing to happen to our country for a long time.

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