OPINION | BRENDA LOOPER: Politically apt

Longtime readers know I'm no fan of politics as practiced today, and why would I be, with all the fabulism, division, insults and ignoring of the law that's become par for the course?

Seriously, if you must insult an opponent, at least make an effort to be creative like William Shakespeare. The Bard was a master, and funny to boot.

But there are a lot of other terms in the English language we could avail ourselves of in an attempt to describe the politics and politicians of today with a little jocularity. They're fun to say, and might just take away a little of the sting of having to deal with this stuff at all. And c'mon, I'm a word nerd, so this is my happy place.

One of the best candidates for me is "codswallop," which means, according to Jason Travis Ott's Grandiloquent Words, "Spoken or written words that have no meaning or make no sense; utter nonsense."

The example sentence, as usual, is a delight: "I'll waste no more time listening to that feckless ninnyhammer's load of cantankerous codswallop, it's giving me a headache!"

Codswallop is one of those words with murky origins and many theories about its history. The Oxford English Dictionary found its earliest recorded usage on a BBC comedy series in 1959, but the writers maintain that it was in everyday language at the time, and they used it because it sounded funny and "it wasn't rude, but the audience knew that it stood for something that was much ruder."

Grandiloquent Words is a goldmine of words to use for politics, if for no other reason than they'll make you feel not as in need of a hot shower to wash off the ickiness of hyperpartisanship and its ill effects.

Take, for example, "losenger," meaning: 1. One who curries favor; a flatterer. 2. A liar, backbiter, calumniator. 3. A deceiver of women; also, a hypocrite. 4. An evil or traitorous counselor. 5. A rascal, coward, idler."

While I personally know many in the political realm who don't come anywhere near this description (John Paul Hammerschmidt and Dale Bumpers certainly did not, and neither do several people in politics today), there are unfortunately many who do. And just as unfortunately, it seems that's what some people want in their elected officials.

Another is rapscallion, "A mischievous and disreputable ne'er-do-well; rascal or rogue; an evil or unprincipled person; a fanciful elaboration of the word 'rascal.'"

In the example sentence, Ott maxed out the alliteration meter: "The recently renovated rathskeller is refuge to rowdy roughnecks, rude rapscallions, and rambunctious ragamuffins who revel in ridiculous riddles and raid the refrigerator for random rotgut."

No more alliteration for me today thanks to that rapscallion (in the mischievous sense only) Ott.

"Breedbate," meaning a troublemaker/someone who enjoys stirring up trouble, seems to describe both certain politicians and their followers. They're not really interested in anything constructive; as Michael Caine's Alfred in "The Dark Knight" said, "Some men just want to watch the world burn."

Then there's "humgruffin" or "humgruffian," which is "a terrible, repulsive, and contemptible person; a savage, obnoxious, whinging, or peevish person."

Ott writes: "The origin of this word is a subject of much whimsical speculation; the facts as pertain to its origin appear to have been lost. However, my own personal theory is that it may be related to or derived from 'humbug' (trick, jest, hoax, imposition, deception--1751) [plus] a blend [of] the word 'gruff' (rough or surly in manner--1690s) from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German 'grof' (coarse in quality, thick) and 'ruffian' (a boisterous, brutal fellow, one ready to commit any crime--1530s) ... ."

And finally, "perfidious," meaning "faithless, unfaithful, basely violating trust; treacherous. From Latin 'perfidiosus' (treacherous) from 'perfidia' (faithlessness)."

Leaving no doubt as to their thoughts, one commenter on Grandiloquent Words' Facebook page simply wrote: "Perfidious = Politician."

How I wish it weren't so for too many.

How I would love to have more people in office now who didn't fit so many of these descriptors; people like Nate Bell and Clarke Tucker who see the wisdom in working with others for the best possible outcome for the most people should be far more plentiful. Treating everything in life like there have to be winners and losers sets us up for further division, even on topics we're closer than we've been led to believe we are by those who seek to play only to their base (which tends to be a minority of voters).

What I would love more than just about anything right now is for people to "whicken" in its second sense, "to awake from insensibility, as from a fainting fit; to revive." Too much of what's been going on in politics in the last couple of decades has brought out the worst not only in politics but in our fellow humans, with so many acting exactly how one would presume their grannies told them not to act.

Acting a fool helps no one; voting for a fool helps the fool and his sycophant staff members. My mama didn't raise me to vote for fools.

Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Email her at blooper@adgnewsroom.com. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com.

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