9/30/20: Democracy Disoriented #poetry #PresidentialDebate

9/30/20: Democracy Disoriented #poetry #PresidentialDebate

I usually have a context for this sort of thing


and my personal experience of how people behave

I respond viscerally

and then employ reason to sort everything out

So I feel it

and I think about it

and then something opens up

an image

a phrase

a line

and I write it down

It all flows out

Then I read it out loud

make some changes

clerical or substantive

I get some sort of feeling that the writing is ready

and I send it out

Time passes



and then I arrange all the separate entries into a greater whole

sometimes writing wrap around notes

sometimes simply assembling them in creative order.

Last night

I was briefly at sea

with millions of other people

I was watching the debate between Trump and Biden

I had no intention to write about it

What more was there to say about Trump?

He ruined another thing that I enjoy

A Presidential Debate

Of course he did

He hates democracy

He doesn’t run for office

He seizes power

or tries to …

I wasn’t confused by Trump

I had his number from day one in 2015

He didn’t do anything at that debate that he didn’t do at the first Trump rally

I wondered how he would be received after that horror movie last night

Would the people who pay attention to the direction of our lives for a couple of weeks every four years,

you know,

the half-assed Americans

who work nine jobs and get drunk all weekend

watch porn and football

and terrorize their wives and kids,

you know

the ones who never read a book and know everything,

the rude obnoxious ones

the ones who make your trip to the drugstore

or the produce market

an ordeal,

the ones who suck at everything that they do

the ones that you have to explain your order to nine times

and then they expect an apology from you,

the ones that are always annoyed and bothered,

the ones who call any act of kindness “socialism” …

will these trashy idiots

in coalition their white collar allies

who would endorse the second coming of Auschwitz

if it meant another percentage point in interest on their 401(K)

would this mob of mendacious, mean-spirited morons

See Trump as strong

and Biden as old and weak?

Would they get it all wrong again?

Morally wrong

Intellectually wrong

Can you tell that I don’t trust them at all anymore?

Trump’s bullying

the racism

the ignorance

the lying

the stealing

the death

was it still all OK?

Apparently not

Republican pols went on TV and predicted a landslide against …

Republican pols

The instant polls all slaughtered Trump

Why now?

Why does this catastrophe jump the shark now?

What took everybody so long?

Have you no decency, sirs and madams? At long last …

Maybe Trump is right

I was a sucker

I used to think that people were as smart and as decent as I am

and they often disappoint

I should be an average Joe

but I am in an elite

They make me look like a cross between Einstein and St. Francis of Assisi

And how many times over the years was I like Biden in the debate

working with them

trying to talk with them

Being different but trying to engage in a common activity

No more

I think everyone is finally fed up now

I’m sick of always waiting for everybody to catch up.

I did my part

I have no shame or regrets.

Not this time.

I saw what this was

I saw what the stakes were right away

and I stood against it

From day one

in real time

I was not indifferent

and self-involved

and too busy with unimportant things

like my fellow citizens

And I lived my convictions

not like many who opposed Trump

but acted just like him in other ways

How mediocre our schools and theaters and neighborhoods have become

lacking seriousness

marred by vanity

Places of petty competition

when we could be living in an Athens

of art, science and democracy

How insecure the shells of what we used to call our communities are

We are forced to be scavengers on the ruins of America

The first things that reopened after the pandemic lockdown last spring,

you know

the lockdown,

that response to mass tormenting lonely death

that response to our paralyzing diseased air

our isolation from the very stuff of our lives,

were the bars —

way too early …

They just couldn’t wait to get back to the fucking bars

They had to have a drink

and a witless laugh

All that they worry about is making a buck

and having a little fun

They are so committed to the illusion of fun

but when you look at them at play

you see nothing resembling fun

You see a desperation to have “friends”, to be active, to be popular, to be doing something “social”, to be hip, to be cool, to be comforted in a phony way — it’s not real warmth or compassionate concern — it is self-medication …

the purposeless pursuit of purposelessness

the meaningless rejection of meaning

People with as much regard for the quality of their lives as they would for a used Kleenex

America became Wrigleyville after a Cubs game

Drunk, inconsiderate and stupid

talking loudly and blocking traffic as it aimlessly stumbled in the streets.

In a strange way

Trump unconsciously held up the mirror to America at the debate last night

He’s a performance artist and he doesn’t always know what he is saying

Last night he said — “look — look at what you are

You don’t look anything like how you think you look

you look like me”

Strange Jazz


and undeserving of democracy.

You have to have a brain and be concerned about your fellow man to deserve democracy.

Now the masses are embarrassed

That was the last straw

The biggest liar in the world told them the truth about themselves


They see their psychotic break

in a stage play

improvised by a monster.

They are ready to crucify the Anti-Christ.

But will they ever face themselves or will they make their rejection of Trump another act of weird denial?

They will change in little surface ways

but they’ll never make the deep changes that are required.

I don’t hold them in contempt.

I hold them in sorrow.

Trump once held that mirror up to them

before the inevitable disasters became obvious even to some of them

and they liked the reflection that Trump showed them …

He said they were powerful

and smarter than the people who wanted to teach them things

He said they were right to want to party all the time

and that concern about other people was for pussies

“You want the money

nothing else matters

the poets and the scientists can fuck off


let’s get high and laid

and never talk about a serious goddam thing …”

Trump is shrill

and terrified;

and the other people

the imperfect human beings

who weren’t as clear as I have been since 2015

but knew something was wrong

but also believed that normality was still present

that America was still breathing

were represented by Biden,

who finally realized that there is no democratic discourse that is possible with these disfigured souls

whose habits have turned them into monsters

Biden checked out during the debate

He receded and withdrew

which was the human thing to do under the circumstances

Relationships cannot endure such disrespect

The fairy tale that we are one country

that we discuss and decide


work together

was put to bed last night.

That’s something that is over

and has to be brought back to life.

The Trump phenomenon

and the Republican Party

have to be tranquilized and removed

But I said all of this in 2015

why didn’t you listen?

Why don’t you listen whenever anyone says something that is true?

Why do you chirp — everyone wants to tell a story in linear fashion — taking their turn and not really listening to what the next person has to say?

Careening from sensation to sensation, ego stroke to ego stroke — when the truth floats by you in the stream of collective consciousness festooned with neon lights …

the truth is everywhere

but your refuse to recognize it because you think it diminishes you

the sage in retirement

the ordinary saint

the insightful intellectual of a low status

You distrust them

You set up an admissions board

puffed up by your power to let them in

You have a moral obligation to honor the truth.

Why does it always take this tragedy?

Why do so many people have to die?

All of this suffering

and then things start to change because everyone gets embarrassed

and finally recognizes the futility of their wasted motion

and prepares their own denial of any culpability at all

the dissolution of ego is needed

how far does it have to go?

It makes me sick

It was no act of genius

or sainthood

to see how stupid and lousy all of this was

I thought I would feel relieved

and triumphant

on the day that I knew that the Trump era was ending

but I actually feel


and disgusted

and a little pissed off.

It’s not hard to see clearly what’s right in front of you

You just have to be honest

and to spend a minute

not worrying about how you are going to get over

Politics is our collective lives

You have an obligation

All of the distractions and excuses

the petty activities

when fascism came to America

Get it together.

Anyone can be a prophet

You just have to be honest with yourself and others.

Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas

One thought on “9/30/20: Democracy Disoriented #poetry #PresidentialDebate

  1. Reblogged this on The Rick Blog and commented:

    9/30/20 seems months ago, but it hasn’t even been a week. Post- Debate polls now say that some Republicans and independents have now turned on Trump. As you can see here, I knew that they would. That was easy. I also knew why. That took a little more work. Why don’t I feel happy or grateful? Now Trump has stupidly and arrogantly infected himself in the same way he has infected the nation. Why did it take mass murder, and recklessly boorish and suicidal behavior to make to bring some Americans to enlightenment? The Rick Blog points to their egos. So we still have a problem. I like this piece because it is not just a blog post that just refers to a passing event. The event revealed an aspect of the American character. Our character is our destiny … unfortunately … unless … Copyright 2020 Richard Thomas


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