A politically active friend emailed to say she knows not to say “basket of deplorables,” but she wondered whether “basket of dopes” might be acceptable. I had not been impressed with Hillary Clinton’s characterization when she used it as a slur against her opponent’s followers. Setting aside the inappropriateness of commenting on people who’s views she disparaged, how does “basket” add to our understanding the characteristics of deplorables? Hillary can be brilliant when explaining policy, but her literary imagination is lacking; maybe that’s part of why she lost the election. And, with due respect to my friend, “basket of dopes” doesn’t have any wit either.
But maybe word play offered a way to assuage anxiety over anticipated consequences of the presidential election. I took An Exultation of Larks off the shelf and sat down with a pad and pencil. In case you don’t have this extraordinary reference, I photographed the cover and two pages: An Unction of Undertakers and A Sclerosis of Fast Food.
Mr. Lipton’s examples are better than mine of course, but here are a few of my collective nouns. Be a shrivel of critics. Feel free to write back with improvements on my collection or to add your own!
A poverty of know nothings
A craven of dupes
A grievance of voters
A copyright of believers
An insult of tweets or perhaps a dawn or a blackmail of tweets
A blind of ethicists
A corruption of advisers or perhaps a flattery of advisors
An injunction of liberals or perhaps a plaint or a submission of liberals
A treachery of governors or perhaps a flippancy or a hazard of governors
A hoax of climate scientists
A callous of insurers
A swamp of legislators or perhaps a bog or a marsh or an obstruction of legislators
A voucher of schools
An apathy of law or perhaps an impropriety of law
An insouciant of cabinet members
An imbalance of billionaires or perhaps a disinterest or a profit of billionaires
A tightness of corporations or a parsimony or a Scrooge of corporations
A party of conflicts or perhaps a family business of conflicts
An inconvenience of facts or perhaps a finesse of facts
I hope this leads to a cordite of ideas!