'Democrat' vs. 'Democratic'

There's a trend toward writers and commentators reframing the Democratic Party as the "Democrat" Party.  It's seen often in right-of-center commentary, particularly on the internet.  At AT we see it in potential copy all the time.  (I saw it in a submission just yesterday.)

The argument goes that the party is, in fact, not "democratic" at all, so it's wrong to allow Democrats to degrade the term by making claim to it.  There's certainly something to that.

But here's the thing: back around 2006, the term "liberal" became radioactive.  This was a culmination decades in the making.  Efforts to turn the word "liberal" into a curse had been carried out by a small number of conservative columnists for many years, with middling success.  It was probably the rise of the internet, with the entrance of real, unvarnished opinion onto the national stage, that clinched it.  It was very likely Sarah Palin's slashing use of the term in the 2008 campaign that put the cap on the matter.

From that point on, they couldn't run fast enough.  They had defended themselves for years by pointing to the dictionary definition of "liberal": "Oh, but liberals are generous and openhanded – what could possibly be wrong with that?"  But that didn't work any longer, and they began casting around for replacements, such as "left-liberal" and "progressive," none of which quite clicked.  Today it's "social-democrat."  Whatever – they all mean the same thing.

This marked a vast and unheralded victory in the battle against the left.  No longer could leftists hide behind a term representing everything open and good while attacking conservatism as dank, unhealthy, and medieval.  The poisoning of "liberal" remade the battle space in a way unseen in half a century.

So what's wrong with doing the same to "Democratic Party"?

We need to make the party name as ridiculous, shifty, and unacceptable as "liberal."  Ruining the very name of America's left-wing party would be something to write home about.  But we can't do this by attacking a party that doesn't exist.  Striking against the "Democrat" Party accomplishes nothing.  It's a tactical error that may provide a moment's emotional release but nothing more.

We need to clean our sights, home in on our target, and make every round count.  Once the Dems have been humiliated, we may well wish to recover the term and restore the respectable patina it once wore.  Until then, we use "Democratic" as an insult, and make the jackasses hurt.

There's a trend toward writers and commentators reframing the Democratic Party as the "Democrat" Party.  It's seen often in right-of-center commentary, particularly on the internet.  At AT we see it in potential copy all the time.  (I saw it in a submission just yesterday.)

The argument goes that the party is, in fact, not "democratic" at all, so it's wrong to allow Democrats to degrade the term by making claim to it.  There's certainly something to that.

But here's the thing: back around 2006, the term "liberal" became radioactive.  This was a culmination decades in the making.  Efforts to turn the word "liberal" into a curse had been carried out by a small number of conservative columnists for many years, with middling success.  It was probably the rise of the internet, with the entrance of real, unvarnished opinion onto the national stage, that clinched it.  It was very likely Sarah Palin's slashing use of the term in the 2008 campaign that put the cap on the matter.

From that point on, they couldn't run fast enough.  They had defended themselves for years by pointing to the dictionary definition of "liberal": "Oh, but liberals are generous and openhanded – what could possibly be wrong with that?"  But that didn't work any longer, and they began casting around for replacements, such as "left-liberal" and "progressive," none of which quite clicked.  Today it's "social-democrat."  Whatever – they all mean the same thing.

This marked a vast and unheralded victory in the battle against the left.  No longer could leftists hide behind a term representing everything open and good while attacking conservatism as dank, unhealthy, and medieval.  The poisoning of "liberal" remade the battle space in a way unseen in half a century.

So what's wrong with doing the same to "Democratic Party"?

We need to make the party name as ridiculous, shifty, and unacceptable as "liberal."  Ruining the very name of America's left-wing party would be something to write home about.  But we can't do this by attacking a party that doesn't exist.  Striking against the "Democrat" Party accomplishes nothing.  It's a tactical error that may provide a moment's emotional release but nothing more.

We need to clean our sights, home in on our target, and make every round count.  Once the Dems have been humiliated, we may well wish to recover the term and restore the respectable patina it once wore.  Until then, we use "Democratic" as an insult, and make the jackasses hurt.