Saturday, September 11, 2010
I am certainly not the first person to analyze and discuss the use of the term "Democrat Party" vs. Democratic Party, but I continue to hear this usage so frequently, most frequently but not exclusively by the leadership of the Republican Party and must say that this usage really grates on my nerves. I am apparently not the only one: a totally non-scientific online pole showed that a plurality of those taking it consider this usage to be like "scraping one's fingernails on a blackboard." One blogger said that the use of the term "Democrat" as an adjective was used by the republicans because it is "not as euphonious" as "Democratic," which is true.
But I think that the annoyance of this usage stems more from the fact that a perfectly proper and historically rooted name of a major political party dating back to Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson has been hijacked by those who wish to denigrate the name by clipping it down to something that is simply not authentic and thereby offensive. One can say, as former President George W. Bush did, that it came simply from his poor grasp of English. Perhaps it is just ignorance and thereby its usage reflects mostly on those who misuse it and not on the original institution. But that does not really scratch the itch of this question. One blog indicated that the Republican Party actually focus grouped the use of this misnomer and found it to be effective in undermining the legitimacy of the Democratic Party. Such word manipulation is certainly an important component of any propaganda campaign that tends to negatively brand one's adversary.
I am also thinking of the way that President Reagan drove liberals underground with the use of the term "the L word" as if it were a dirty or taboo word, like "the F word" or "the N word." Now we are hearing also the use of the term "Obamacare," as if to brand the recently passed health care law, which is now the law of the land approved by the democratically elected US Congress, as the personal product of our President. And what if anything is wrong if the legislation, promised by Mr. Obama in his electoral campaign and considerably watered down to accommodate broader support to be associated with him? Are some people, again namely Republicans, seeking to stir up animosity to anything linked to the President, drawing on widely held prejudices about the Presidents race, alleged Muslim religious allegiance and his, yes, liberal political history and profile. This is not unlike former Mayor Rudy Giulliani's effort to brand Mr. Obama as a "community organizer" as if this in itself was somehow a bad thing the be.
Another word manipulation that is totally unethical is the labeling of the Obama administration as "elitist." How can Republicans and other conservatives who regularly defend the interests of economic elites, the really moneyed and priviledged segments of our society, honestly refer to Mr. Obama and members of his cabinet as "elites" just because they succeeded in attending the best colleges and universities and because they are don't speak like "ordinary folks." Smart people usually don't. This does not make them "elitist," which, by the way is never, ever defined by those who so use it.
What has characterized the response of Democrats, liberals and social democrats promoting public health care has been a certain cowardice in taking on these verbal assaults and a tendency to just try to ignore them. What Democrats should do, in the case of the use of the term "Democrat Party" is to always respond publicly and negatively to this misuse and to point out that it is an attempt to undermine the party's legitimacy. And if they have to start referring to the Republican Party as the "Republic Party," so be it.