Monday, December 26, 2011


I don't know who Geoffrey K. Pullum is, but he recently wrote a fantastic blog post in response to the efforts of Donald Trump to play kingmaker in the Republican presidential nomination contest. I would argue, of course, that it is not just Trump and not just the Republican candidates who are card carrying members of the assholocracy, but also Obama, every member of his administration and nearly every sitting member of Congress. Throw in 50 state governors, most of the state legislative members and every mayor who sicced their thug cops on the Occupy protesters, plus every investment banker on Wall Street and nearly every large corporation CEO and you have a pretty clear picture of who the assholocracy is.
Somewhat to my surprise, the Wall Street Journal didn't merely report that "Donald Trump wants a say in who gets the nomination, so he's hosting a presidential debate, holding out the prospect of his endorsement and threatening an independent run" (i.e., behaving like a kingmaker who expects to be honored and courted by the rival candidates); it even quoted candidate Jon Huntsman's remarkably lewd comment about why he's not going to attend the Trump "debate": Huntsman said, "I'm not going to kiss his ring, and I'm not going to kiss any other part of his anatomy."

That vivid and rather gross remark reminded me of how right my extremely cool son Calvin is about the word he wants to see win the American Dialect Society's Word of the Year contest. I had been talking to Calvin one day about the ghastly crew of obnoxious multi-millionaires who dominate the newspapers, and how they keep threatening to achieve success even in the political arena. Calvin pointed out to me both that we need a new political term for the concept of being ruled by such men, and that there already is such a term. We are living, he observed, in the age of the assholocracy.

He's right, you know. This relatively new word is really useful. Even if we ignore the whole scandal of modern banking, and the rigged election in Russia, and all the scandals in Italy (by the man who The Economist dubbed "the man who screwed a whole country"), and all the disgusting behavior and political clout of of the Murdoch press empire, there is so much else. The contest for the Republican presidential nomination illustrates as well as any other arena.

Donald Trump is famous here in Scotland. Famous for his cruel treatment of the ordinary people he has tried hard to oust from their homes so he can get control of their land, which adjoins the golf resort he is trying to build north of Aberdeen. (There is an excellent documentary on his unpleasant dealings: You've Been Trumped. The capacity crowd in Edinburgh the night I saw it broke into applause, and it was not for the Donald.) To see Trump trying to play a decisive role in choosing the next Republican presidential candidate even as he threatens to split their vote by running against them as an independent really interests us over here. It should be even more interesting to those of you who are on the left hand side of the Atlantic.

The thought of Trump having political power and influence convinces me that assholocracy is going to get my vote at the American Dialect Society's voting session. It's not just to make sure we don't find some stupid compositional phrase winning (I shudder at the thought of having to battle against my good friend Ben Zimmer over such a thing, but you can already see the way he's leaning on the phrase issue), no; it's because assholocracy is a terse and valuable addition to the vocabulary.
I've hereby added an "assholocracy" tag here at TDS and will be using it in the future, no doubt quite liberally.

Bonus: The Asshole Song


  1. Not a bad term, but there already is one that is quite descriptive of our current system of governance - fascism.

  2. It's always nice to have a new word to use.


    Seems to fit.

    -- Dave

  3. @Gail & Dave - yeah, they are all kind of one in the same, aren't they.