What's Up With the "Democrat Party"

Surely you have heard it many times, "Democrat Party,""Democrat function" or some other variation where the word "Democrat" stands in for "Democratic." Most wingers use it by now, and many have been doing so for some time. I just don't know why.

Personally, I have heard a number of possible suggestions as to why, but none that were ever satisfactory. I was hoping that someone here knew the rationale or etymology behind it. Clue me in.

Tags: Misc (all tags)



Here is a possible reason...
If the Republican Party uses "Democratic" Party, it gives us an advantage in their view.  After all, America is a Democratic nation (i.e elections).  And we are the Democratic Party.  Hence, the linkage between a DEMOCRATIC America and the DEMOCRATIC Party becomes undeniable.  

And the Republicans don't want this linkage to exist in any manner

by v2aggie2 2005-04-10 09:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Here is a possible reason...
I always thought this (v2aggie2's explanation) was obvious to everyone.  Chris, didn't you?

It's framing, or rather trying to unmake a frame that's attractive for your opponents.  They can't go around shouting "you should all hate anyone who's Democratic!".

by QrazyQat 2005-04-10 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Here is a possible reason...
This (v2agggie2) is the reason.

Somehow in the past the Democratic Party actually agreed to the now common "democrat" usage more or less officially.

I also think this came about in the Regean era, not certain of this last point about when it happened.

Of course I agree that this is a slighting of the language, the point inherent in Chris's topic, and the I agree with the other criticisms people have made on this page, but I think some accurae research will show up the Democrats were complicit in this change (stupid as it is).

by leschwartz 2005-04-10 10:43AM | 0 recs
It is my understanding...
... that this is a Luntz thing. He apparently polled the question of which sounds worse and found that people react negatively to "Democrat" and not to "Democratic."

I wonder if the same is true for "Republic" as oppossed to "Republican?" I know I react negatively to Republican.

by Andrew C White 2005-04-10 09:57AM | 0 recs
Re: It is my understanding...
That's what I'd heard as well.
by Steve P 2005-04-10 10:43AM | 0 recs
It predates Luntz
From comments downthread, Joe McCarthy used it in the 1950's, and Bob Dole revived it 1976.
by ck 2005-04-10 12:48PM | 0 recs
That's what I read
by Winger 2005-04-10 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: It is my understanding...
Just wanted to ditto this as well. It's poll-tested framing. It's subtle, but it works.

Why the hell aren't we doing this stuff as well?

by alteran 2005-04-10 05:18PM | 0 recs
Same as a Jew Lawyer
instead of a Jewish lawyer.
by Parker 2005-04-10 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Same as a Jew Lawyer
Of course most unamerican democrats are jews, aren't they? Or wife-beaters.  Or pedephiles.  Or communists.  Or gay-lovers.

They're all the same. Enemies of god-lovin' christian folk.

by plunkitt 2005-04-10 04:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Same as a Jew Lawyer
Wife-beaters are strict father Republicans, not nurturant parent Democrats. Pedefiles are evenly spread out, but communists and gay-lovers are definately Democratic.
by Jeff Wegerson 2005-04-11 10:45AM | 0 recs
Old use
The first time I heard the term was in Bob Dole's disastrous vice=presidential debate in 1976 when he described all the deaths in "Democrat wars" like World War II, all the while pounding the stump of his bad hand and flailing away.  It was ridiculous, over the top, and contrasts markedly with this obviously Republican war we are now waging.

Pearl Harbor changed everything.  Far more than 9/11.

IMO, it was a derogatory term dating back to red meat Republican circles at least 30 years but it has only surfaced in the MSM over the last 10 or 15 years.

The thoughts of this group may date back to Goldwater and Reagan but the attack dog style and anything goes mentality is pure Nixon.

by David Kowalski 2005-04-10 10:03AM | 0 recs
is it more of that aw-shucks-
-I'm-a-regular-guy talk?

as in only arrogant, liberal, elite, bicoastal, blue-state types bother to speak, uh, proper(ly)... maybe?

It makes even our party's name elitist.

by sarany 2005-04-10 10:15AM | 0 recs
"Democrat Party" doesn't wear as well on the ears as "Democratic Party", but I do agree with a previous comment here that neither "Republican" nor "Democrat" really says where each party stands or what they believe.  This is a Democratic Republic, and the name doesn't mean that the parties want to change the system of Government or anything like that.  
by Max Friedman 2005-04-10 10:16AM | 0 recs
Shades of McCarthyism
Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy used it in his live TV appearance on the first broadcast of "Face the Nation" on Nov. 7, 1954 (DVD in "Face the Nation," book by Bob Schieffer).

When Bob Dole revived the term "Democrat Party" during the 1976 presidential campaign, I recall hearing political commentators describe it as a throwback to the time of Joe McCarthy in the fifties. The quote above is from an anonymous comment at The Biscuit Report.

The usual cant response given by Republicans when challenged on this usage is that the Demcratic Party isn't really democratic, so it doesn't deserve the full adjective. In reality, this merely lowers political discourse to the level of the playground bully who tries to demean you by deliberately mispronouncing your name. (For the same reason, I disdain childish terms like "Rethuglican".)

I think we should be aggressive with those who leave the "ic" out of "Democratic Party". The California Republican Party has even gone so far as to edit others' quotes on its website to make them conform with the GOP's petty usage. If Republicans can't even get the official name of the opposition party right, can they do anything else right? Yes, I know. Rhetorical.

by TonyB 2005-04-10 10:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Shades of McCarthyism
I think you're right on the history, but my recollection is that the big push came during the Reagan years. They deliberately tried to divorce democracy from the Democratic Party. I saw campaign literature at the time that referred to the 'Rat Party. Tip O'Neill protested a few times but gave up. Or, did the media just quit reporting the protests?
by antiHyde 2005-04-11 06:41AM | 0 recs
Whatever the connotations...
It's a fact that polls show people respond better to "democratic party" than to "democrat party".

Kos' thoughts on it here.

by Mike in Maine 2005-04-10 10:27AM | 0 recs
The explanation NealB has heard is just nuts.  The adjective should be used to describe a noun.

Perhaps this is just a symptom of Republican hatred for grammar.

by Mike in Maine 2005-04-10 10:37AM | 0 recs
No Democrat Should EVER Use That Language...
They created it for a reason...they want to control our language...I'll never succomb....
by Oleary25 2005-04-10 11:02AM | 0 recs
Dictionary definition
dem·o·crat   n.

  1. An advocate of democracy.

  2. Democrat A member of the Democratic Party.

The proper name for the party is Democratic. Democrat is only proper for an individual, not the party itself. The phrase "democrat party" is an awkward and deliberate bastardization of the proper usage.

It seems childish, but many of the effective techniques Republicans use are childish. I don't know how you counter it, except with counter ridicule. If it were me, every time someone used Democrat party, I would respond with Republic party several times over.

Childish is as childish does. For some reason it works in American politics.

by Gary Boatwright 2005-04-10 11:08AM | 0 recs
This really pisses me off...
You hear this all the time in the Texas...it's enough to drive you crazy!  My family has been invovled in the Democratic Party in and around the South since it was respectable to be so for bad reasons (Civil War and Reconstruction), when it was respectable to be so for good reasons (the New Deal and Great Society), and now when it seems it isn't respectable at all (post-Reagan).  When this is ingrained into you like this...it just makes you want to scream.  It also makes you sad because you realize you're going to die from a heart attack because you get all worked up over the small things...

As a side note...I've always wondered which saying is correct:
"Vote Democratic" or "Vote Democrat"

I have seen both on various campaign posters/buttons/DNC literature...any thoughts?

by TXRNott 2005-04-10 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: This really pisses me off...
Apparently the Style Manual of the Dallas Morning News prohibits referring to our party as the "Democratic Party."  Everytime I read it in there, my blood pressure rises.

I agree with the comment that they are doing this like the playground bully who loves to demean.  But lurking under such behavior, isn't there always self-loathing?

by Allmaya 2005-04-10 03:12PM | 0 recs
It's not recent
I read "The Glory and the Dream" by William Manchester published in 1972.  He writes that Republicans have used "Democrat" as a adjective to deride Dems since the 1950s.
by Raenelle 2005-04-10 11:53AM | 0 recs
Democrat and Democratic
It makes sense that one wouldn't call a Democratic Party member of the U.S. Senate a Democratic.

Calling someone a Democratic Senator works though, and it should be part of Democratic Party strategy to use this type of reference more often than the former one: the word Democrat.

It is important for Democrats to do this, because the word Democrat actually hurts the Democratic Party in some ways. It has been written in articles in newspapers that Republicans love to use the word Democrat in lieu of Democratic whenever possible.

The reason Republicans like this term better, is because it may hurt Democrats in an inconspicuous but very tangible way.

The word Democrat rhymes with bureaucrat. Republicans gradually gained more power throughout the 80s and 90s by tagging Democrats as big-government tax and spenders. Just about every part of the Republican coalition dislikes (at least before 2000) the idea of  big government bureaucrats telling ordinary non-Beltway folk what to do in their lives.

Economic libertarians and rich country club Republicans dislike perceived Federal economic/welfare planning and bureaucracy. Southern and plains states social conservatives dislike the idea of liberal east-coast bureaucratic elites on the Federal bench, making crucial culture war decisions.

It isn't just Republicans that can be negatively swayed by the idea of a large east-coast tax and spend bureaucracy being run by liberal elites. Swing voters and independents can be negatively swayed by this idea as well.

Democratic is a great word -- it conjures up all of the positive connotations of U.S. Democracy, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the American Revolution.

The word Democratic brings to mind the word Democracy much more than the word Democrat does. Democrats should try to incorporate the word Democratic into lingo about themselves whenever possible.

Democrats are Democrats and will remain so. It is part of their history and legacy. But Democrats can also use the word Democratic to their advantage much more than they do so currently.

by JT 2005-04-10 12:09PM | 0 recs
I am a loyal member of the Democrat Party
I think you guys may be overreacting a little.  I come from a redneck part of the country and as long as I can remember -- way before Dubya -- even Democrats talk about the "Democrat Party."
by jschultz44 2005-04-10 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: I am a loyal member of the Democrat Party
Unless Democrats have a working majority in your region, that just sounds like one more good reason not to use it.
by TonyB 2005-04-10 01:31PM | 0 recs
Yes, And Dems Also Say Social Security Reform and
tax relief and a whole host of semantically harmful things...for that reason, the democrats who use it should be instructed to stop doing it...

I heard a democratic party caucus use it to in defining their goals...democrat this and democrat that ...

The fact that it makes the hair on my neck stand up is proof enough for me that it's harmful...

by Oleary25 2005-04-10 06:01PM | 0 recs
Careful detaching...
I always took it as a way of detaching dang liberals from "democracy" which we seemed to own because we are, after all, the democratic party.  

It may have started as a red-neck error, but I remember the deliberate use of the term by Reagan Republicans as part of spin.  Ugly sounding, ugly intention in the part of the speaker.

by Bean 2005-04-10 01:37PM | 0 recs
Blame it on John Connally
The first time that I heard this description of the Democratic Party (and it has irritated me no end ever since) was in a speech made by John Connally at, I believe, the 1976 Republican Convention. He was seeking the Republican nomination after abandoning the party to which he owed his political career.  In order to ingratiate himself with his new found friends, he coined the term the "Democrat Party" and, if my recollection is correct, repeadedly said "They're not the Democratic Party.  They're the Democrat Party"  So obviously, the prior comments are correct.  It was a conscious attempt to undermine the positive connotation that derives from the term "Democratic Party" and was not just another example of poor grammar by a Texan.

Since that time, Republicans have repeatedly used the term to demean the Democratic Party and have had willing or unwitting sycophants in the media.  What is distressing is to hear Democrats frequently use the term.  It is yet another example of Democrats using the language employed by Republicans and cooked up by their Madison Avenue consultants to control the language and define the debate.  

What is interesting is a definition of "democrat" that may be found in the American Heritage Dictionary, 2nd Edition (1985).  In the definition, the following statement is made: "Usage: Republican politicians have long been in the habit of referring to the Democratic Party as the 'Democrat Party' but this usage does not have wide acceptance off the campaign stump".

I would add, that is, unless we let the Republicans get away with it, or worse, aid them in corrupting both the language and the political environment.  Nouns do not modify nouns and Republicans should not define our party!

by New Dealer 2005-04-10 02:11PM | 0 recs
Re: The explanation I've heard...
But I think that the generic "democratic" is a far more understood -- and in a "Blink"-sense, more positive -- concept than "republican." Most folks couldn't tell you what a republic is, but they know the basic features of a democracy. So Republicans try to tease apart "Democrat" from "democratic" to limit association and linkage.
by itskevin 2005-04-10 02:21PM | 0 recs
I'm a Democrat. It's a Party of Democrats.
If these tweaked assholes believe in their shriveled little hearts that "Democrat Party" is somehow a slur, we should take it over.  Whip their fascist little asses with it.  

"The Democrat Party: The Party that actually believes in democracy."

The Democrat Party: The Party for people that serve their country in the military instead of hiding behind deferments."  

"The Democrat Party:  The Party that represents workers and small businesses, not WalMart and Enron."

"The Democrat Party: The Party where 'supporting the troops' means body armour and armoured vehicles, not pansy-ass yellow ribbons."

Print up buttons, bumper stickers and lawn signs.  Photcopy it and staple to telephones poles like it's the world's biggest yardsale.  Say it so loud and so often that those worthless pigfuckers start screaming for mercy and jamming pencils through their eardrums when they hear the words "The Democrat Party."

It can only hurt us if we let it.

by jexter 2005-04-10 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm a Democrat. It's a Party of Democrats.
You are so wrong.  If someone insults you you don't celebrate their terms, i.e. what if someone called me a women a slut.  You think by embracing I am rejecting it.  That of course is nonsensical on its face.  

Democrat Party is just like that.

It is a pejorative term and it is meant to be insulting and demeaning.

Sure it comes from the South which only proves
its pejorative origins

We should refuse to use the terms and we should correct those who use it constantly and thereby show up their pettiness. We can also make them look stupid and illiterate.

Why? becauset is also GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT.  

We are a party of Democrats.  In that sentence Democrat is a noun and that is the correct usage.

But the Democrat party is grammatically incorrect. Why?  Because in that sentence party is the noun which is modified by a adjective, but the word democrat is the noun form and the noun form only.  Nouns are modified (described) by adjectives and the adjectival form of Democrat is Democratic.

It is for example grammatically incorrect to use the noun form of autocrat or theocrat or fascist or tyrant to describe a party like the Republican Party.  

It is grammatically correct to use the adjectival form of these words.  I.E. The Republican party is the theocratic, autocratic, fascistic party.  Note that the IC turns a noun form into the adjectivival form.

Like most things the Democratic party has only colluded in this insulting terminology by its silence.  We should shove it back into their faces.

by debcoop 2005-04-10 06:15PM | 0 recs
Re: I'm a Democrat. It's a Party of Democrats.
O.K., so the plan is to shame them into not saying "Democrat Party" with a devastating 5 paragraph grammer lesson. (I think the sentence "Note that the IC turns a noun form into the adjectivival form" will be particularly effective...)

That may just work!  But could we shorten the lesson just a little?  How about this:

Right-wing Fascist: "So your a member of the Democrat Party, huh?"

You: "No, you ignorant inbred moron, it's called  the Democratic Party. Do you even know how to read?"

Incidently, I'm having a bit of trouble seeing that "Democrat Party" vs. "Democratic Party" is analogous to "slut" vs. "woman"; they seem different by orders of magnitude.

by jexter 2005-04-11 12:47AM | 0 recs
implies that our party has some sort of sole lock on democratic values, so the Republicans don't want to impute that.

I used to regard use of "Democrat Party" as an indicator that the user was a real dumb asshole, but now I think that of all Republicans.

by Bob H 2005-04-10 03:35PM | 0 recs
I love it, Jex

 I come from a redneck part of the country and as long as I can remember -- way before Dubya -- even Democrats talk about the "Democrat Party.

I think it's a Southern thing.  Yep, it's folksy, but not all the folks are Republicans who use it in my neck of the woods.

by Eleanor A 2005-04-10 05:03PM | 0 recs
Changing our language habits
Democrats presumably espouse democratic ideas and join together in a party to promote them -- the Democratic party, the party of democratic ideas.

Other people supposedly espouse republican ideas and they also join together in a party to promote their ideas -- the Republican party, the party of republican ideas.

Therefore, by analogy to "Democrats" we should refer to members of the Republican party as "Republics" -- if only to annoy them.

I kind of like that.

And while we're changing our language habits, let's make a serious effort to stop using "conservative" to describe the radical right-wing authoritarians in charge of the Republican party and in control of the White House and the Congress, since they're clearly not "conservative" in any reasonable sense of the word.

by Ed Fitzgerald 2005-04-10 05:13PM | 0 recs
That's why I
use "Dems" and "Reeps." The long "e" sound is unflattering, and the abbreviation is evocative of "reapers."
by catastrophile 2005-04-11 11:39AM | 0 recs
The Democratic party is dead.
Long live the democratic party.
by turnerbroadcasting 2005-04-10 06:25PM | 0 recs
Difference between Democrats and Republicans
It is true that Republicans have conducted polls that show that people respond less favorably to Democrat than Democratic.

That being said, this is the critical question:  Would you consciously speak in a manner that was favorable to your political party if it made you sound like an ignorant fool?  I suspect that the answer to that question for most Democrats would be "no".  Republicans, OTOH, seem to have no problem looking like ignoramuses if it furthers their political goals.

by space 2005-04-10 07:59PM | 0 recs
A Southern Strategy
My sense is that the "Democrat Party" usage got rolling hard with George Wallace, and was subsequently included in the Republican style book as part of the Nixonian "Southern Strategy."  Pretty successful, I'd say.
I wouldn't be at all surprised by earlier usages (the McCarthy citation sounds apt), but they'd be under my memory radar.  I just know that, growing up, the more onjectionably conservative/radical the speaker, the more likely they were to use it instead of "Democratic."  Fox News uses it all the time, graphically as well as verbally.
by grishaxxx 2005-04-10 09:12PM | 0 recs
Re: A Southern Strategy
I went to a Southern college -- O.K.,
it was in Texas, but lily white in
the early 1960s -- and already
the Young Republicans on campus
were making a big thing of using
the term "Democrat Party".

these guys, BTW, held views
similar to those attributed to
George W. Bush while he was
an Ivy League student:
Social Security is Socialism,
the Civil Rights Movement
is Communist-led,
poor people are poor
because they are lazy,

this was during the time when
racially prejudiced Southerners
were reconsidering their loyalty
to the national Democratic Party
of their fathers and grandfathers,
because of the Party's strong
support for equality for black folks.

methinks part of the Republican
desire to rename us was to try
to separate the contemporary
Democratic Party from our
great history and heritage.
they wanted to say to bigoted
white Southerners that the
"Democrat" Party was not
their father's party, but
something different.

the term was offensive and hateful
back then and it still is.

by Woody 2005-04-11 09:01AM | 0 recs
When Bush was campaigning last fall, he'd use the "Democrat" label in Southern states and the "Democratic" label elsewhere.  So it's a conscious effort by the GOP to smear Democrats.  It's not an accident.  And it works better with some audiences than with others.
by space 2005-04-10 09:27PM | 0 recs
"Democrat" Party
Of course it's just common courtesy to call people by the names they call themselves... this has been going on a long time (on and off for 50+ years as mentioned above) and for obvious reasons: because it sounds less mellifluous than "Democratic Party," because it ends in "rat," most of all because it is disrespectful.

Not sure whether to just roll with it or oppose it.  I have wondered whether Dems shouldn't object every time it's used on the floor of a legislative body and call for a ruling that it be spoken and rendered "Democratic."

By the way, I recollect that Bush in the last campaign would alternate usages depending upon the audience -- using "Democrat" in front of partisan Republican audiences and "Democratic" in bipartistan "reach out" sessions.  So clearly it's deliberate.

by foobar 2005-04-11 03:43AM | 0 recs
Surely turnabout is fair play...
...so what should we call the GOP?

The Republic party?
The Repub party?
The Repo party?

by brahn 2005-04-11 03:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Surely turnabout is fair play...
In our own small way, that is how I and my like-minded colleagues used to do in response to the perjorative use of "Democrat Party".  We'd refer to them as the "Repub Party".
by New Dealer 2005-04-11 06:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Surely turnabout is fair play...
If they want to take the "ic" from "Democratic" so badly, let's give it to them.




Republicans: "The Ic Party"

by jexter 2005-04-11 01:10PM | 0 recs
What's there to be confused about?
"Democrat Party" sounds bad.  That's the whole story.
by snaktime 2005-04-11 05:21AM | 0 recs
A crazy hunch of mine
is that the current problems of the Democrat Party have less to do with whether it is referred to as "Democrat" or "Democratical" or whatever, and more to do with things like the obtuseness of the party leadership, failure to articulate a real alternative to the other side, and so on.  But hey, I could be way off base about this.
by jschultz44 2005-04-11 06:26AM | 0 recs
I look at it this way . . .
The Reeps need to distinguish between the Democratic Party and democratic rule because they can't sell America the idea of clobberating foreign nations to promote global republicanism.
by catastrophile 2005-04-11 11:36AM | 0 recs
I can't help it
I get angry when I hear "Democrat Party". My own Governor, Bob Ehrlich, uses it on talk radio with sympathetic audiences and uses "Democratic" other times.  While it's nowhere near as serious, it hits me a little like an ethnic slur.

As Matthew Santos(D-TX) said on the West Wing last week we should , "[go home with our]head[s] held high and say 'I am a member of the DEMOCRATIC Party.'"

Yes, I know he's fictional and I took him slightly out of context but it would be nice if officeholders would meet this head on when it slaps them in the face.        

by howie14 2005-04-12 04:47AM | 0 recs
Another possibility
This seems to coincide with the evolution of the word "liberal" from an adjective to a noun, and then having republicans smear it as a pejoritave term.

Semanticists and social psychologists probably have a better explanation for this, but I see it as a means of control.  Doing this allows the speaker to control the "frame" by smearing the essence of a person, not just a particular characteristic of a person.  

I can't say why, but it sounds so much worse to say "He's a Liberal" instead of "He's Liberal."  "He's a Democrat" instead of "He's Democratic".  "He's a Jew" instead of "He's Jewish."  

Perhaps it's the idea that describing someone with a noun forecloses the possibility of any cross-identification with this person.  To say someone is "liberal" provides the possibility that they still share some common characteristic "liberal republican" or "liberal southerner".  "A liberal" identifies the group, and forecloses any overlap with any other kind of group.  "He's nothing but a liberal".

Some thoughts, anyway.

by GreenlaborMike 2005-04-12 07:12AM | 0 recs
by hpvv 2005-12-19 10:13PM | 0 recs


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