[Ads-l] Can't get elected "dog catcher"

Peter Reitan pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed Oct 25 00:06:34 UTC 2017

Trump tweeted today, saying that Senator Corker could "not get elected dog catcher" in Tennessee.

In 2002, Barry Popik posted here about the expression used in the New York Times in 1906<http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2002-December/028214.html>.

He has the expression as early as 1889 on his website<https://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/dogcatcher_elections_couldnt_get_elected_dog_catcher/>.

I put a post on my blog today with earlier examples<https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2017/10/president-trump-president-cleveland-and.html>.

I found a precursor to the expression as early as 1831:

Who he is I cannot learn; but he is probably some obscure citizen, or disappointed office seeker, who is willing even to be known as a dog-catcher, rather than not figure in the public prints.

Boston Masonic Mirror, Volume 3, October 8, 1831, page 118.

I found something nearly like the expression from 1851:

“We see old whig doctrines trampled under foot, and new fashioned democracy, of the most ultra school substituted . . . .  Upon my word, Messrs. Editors, neither of them could get my vote for the office of dog-catcher.”

The Spirit of Democracy (Woodsfield, Ohio), July 30, 1851, page 3.

And the familiar form by 1871.

Handsome majorities were thus rolled up, and candidates who could not be elected to the position of “dog catcher” in any other country received an almost unanimous “count” at the hands of pliant election inspectors.

The New York Herald, October 29, 1874, page 3.

I also found "can't get elected pathmaster" as early as 1866, and a few examples in later years.

They are politically dead forever.  Neither of them could be elected pathmaster in their own school districts.  Theirs is the ultimate fate of all Demagogues.

The Representative (Fox Lake, Wisconsin), November 16, 1866, page 2.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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