What’s in a politician’s name? | Our Corner

A quick glance at the opinion page tells us an election is right around the corner. The mail-in primary ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday.

A quick glance at the opinion page tells us an election is right around the corner. The mail-in primary ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday.

I have been thinking about the American attitude toward political leaders. Politicians are almost as low on the opinion poles as journalists. The difference is journalists generally don’t care if they’re hated and politicians, by their nature, want to be loved. That explains why many say they are not politicians, but are community servants who happen to put signs out asking people to vote for them.

I understand the sentiment.

Most local political leaders really do go into office trying to serve their community – at least mostly. All human action is conflicted (this from the twisted mind of an editor known as Mr. Joyful).

I have come up with a solution for politicians to get more lovey-dovey respect. Get more names – a lot more.

Roman emperors figured this out early on. Some of them changed their names to something cooler or their parents added all sorts of names to make them sound important in hopes some nut would be less likely to poison them.

Gaius Octavius became Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus when he was hanging with Caeser and finally become Imperator Caesar Augustus. Roman historian Tacitus said Augustus’ wife, Livia, poisoned him so her son Tibereus could finally become emperor. Apparently Auggie lived too long and Livia got tired of waiting. That’s the danger of marrying a young woman in Rome, I guess.

Romans liked to string a bunch of unpronounceable names together and chisel them on an arch, right before some disgruntled brother or close friend fed them some bad buttermilk. Gaius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was Caligula, and one of the really goofy ones was Severus – Imperator Caesar Lucius Septimius Severus Pertinax Augustus. Sometimes it seemed the quicker they got the knife the longer the name.

The Romans had a very poor system of succession. But that’s a problem we appear to have solved.

Our political hopefuls and leaders need to start adding names to their names. It could be a new political strategy.

Maybe if Nixon would have had a name like Dick Not a Crook And Really Nice Nixon, he would have finished his second term.

How about, “I am running for office and my name is Tony No Dirty Pictures of Me Weiner.”

“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Or not.


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Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
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