The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, August 14, 2006

I'll take mine Democratic-- hold the "ic."

This is something that's annoyed me for quite a while. I've mentioned it before, and although it isn't what you'd call a crisis it is an apt example of how childish the ruling conservative mentality is. It's also a horrid example of the whole "framing" issue that's been a constant meme on the blogs for years now.

I've caught conservative friends who are quite sensible people using the term Democrat as an adjective without even realizing their error, and that's exactly how sneaky propaganda is supposed to work. And this has worked beautifully for the GOP-- especially, as Hertzberg notes in his article, because the number of prominent Republicans who regard it as cheap and contemptible has really dwindled in the last decade.

There’s no great mystery about the motives behind this deliberate misnaming. “Democrat Party” is a slur, or intended to be—a handy way to express contempt. Aesthetic judgments are subjective, of course, but “Democrat Party” is jarring verging on ugly. It fairly screams “rat.” At a slightly higher level of sophistication, it’s an attempt to deny the enemy the positive connotations of its chosen appellation. (. . .) And no doubt there are plenty of others who say “Democrat Party” just to needle the other side while signalling solidarity with their own—the partisan equivalent of flashing a gang sign. (. . .)

In the conservative media, the phenomenon feeds more voraciously the closer you get to the mucky, sludgy bottom. “Democrat Party” is standard jargon on right-wing talk radio and common on winger Web sites like, which blue-pencils Associated Press dispatches to de-“ic” references to the Party of F.D.R. and J.F.K. (The resulting impression that “Democrat Party” is O.K. with the A.P. is as phony as a North Korean travel brochure.) The respectable conservative journals of opinion sprinkle the phrase around their Web sites but go light on it in their print editions.

Recommended reading, especially for having some fun with an annoying topic. Of special note is the observation that William F. Buckley, Jr., Reagan and Bush I eschewed the tactic, while for Bush II, it's routine. Just one more sign of how far the party has fallen.