Here’s something fun for everyone out there who loves wordplay and hates fucking grifters, strongmen, and white nationalist demagogues, especially when they seize power and seek to maintain it at whatever cost.
I originally wrote this little anecdote thinking I might read it at an event, but then I ended up reading other stuff instead. But it’s too good not to share, and depending on what happens on Nov 3, it may also have a short shelf life. So thought I’d just post it here while it’s relevant to an election season.
If you’ve been following the news, you may have seen this story about how the Trump government came under fire for inserting campaign letters, essentially, inside the “Farmers to Families” food boxes that the federal government has been providing to food banks. Before the story broke, though, I heard about this apparent violation of the Hatch Act from a friend who texted me on her way back from a food bank, incensed to find a letter taped to a bag of chicken nuggets (to be more precise, “chicken leg meat chunks”) signed by DT himself. She texted me a picture of the letter, and I had to laugh at its very first sentence, given the tens of thousands of avoidable deaths seen in the current pandemic—
“As president, safeguarding the health and well-being of our citizens is one of my highest priorities.”
—not to mention at its cheery exhortations that starving families help prevent the spread of COVID by following CDC guidelines (including “considering” wearing a mask), given the White House’s record of ignoring its own CDC in hosting super-spreader events in recent days. More obviously obscene was the way the letter exploited an economic crisis largely of the Trump government’s own making, using hunger and poverty as an opportunity to campaign for reelection. A bag of chicken leg meat chunks in every pot, a COVID death in every plot!
While legal action would seem to be the appropriate next step for further Hatch Act violations for the Farm to Families Food Box Program, lawfare also seems too slow compared to the power of, like, pithy viral poetry memes. Actually, what came most immediately to mind was a very clever campaign slogan I read about recently in a book by David Montejano about the rise of the Chicano movement in San Antonio. In the book, Montejano recalls Henry B Gonzalez’s campaign for city council against a candidate named Goode, whose habit it was to buy the Westside Mexicano vote by giving out free tamales and beer before taking people to the polls. So Gonzalez’s campaign came up with this little poem:
Drink Goode’s beer and eat Goode’s tamales
Then go to the polls and vote for Gonzalez!
It occurred to me that, 75 years later, here we were facing a similarly vulgar sort of vote buying situation, and I wondered what sort of poetic slogan might befit the occasion. So I asked my friend what was in the box, and she said that, in addition to the meat chunks, she got sour cream, milk, cheese, hot dogs, celery, apples, oranges, potatoes, and onion.
Using the Gonzalez slogan as my template, I played around with these ingredients. At first I didn’t have much luck, but then I moved around some words and had more success. Here’s what I came up with, a kind of incantation as we careen toward November 3rd, a flaming car full of shit headed for a cliff whose brakes may or may not work:
Drink Trump’s milk and eat Trump’s nuggets
Then go to the polls and tell him to shove it!
Eat Trump’s meat chunks and eat Trump’s Spam
Then go to the polls and tell him to SCRAM
Eat Trump’s chunks and cash Trump’s checks,
Then go to the polls and cast off his hex!
The cool thing about these little rhymes is anyone can play. So here’s a challenge for you, like a poetic game of Chopped, the game show where you get a basket of mystery ingredients and have 30 minutes to put together a gourmet meal:
Given an electioneering box of meat chunks, sour cream, milk, cheese, weiners, celery, apples, oranges, potatoes, and onion…how would you fill in these blanks? You have thirty minutes. Go!