Expository critical essays in literary, political, historical, philosophical, and spiritual topics remain part of my literary toolkit.
What Is "Democratic" About Today's "Democratic Party"?
Political thinkers who lean Republican, libertarian, and conservative, who intentionally refer to the "Democratic Party" as the "Democrat Party" often do so because they perceive little to nothing "democratic" in that party's policies. Instead, the current far-left-leaning "Democratic Party" has begun to embrace policies that correspond to the authoritarian/totalitarian policies of socialism, even communism.
Such a socialistic intention can be seen in the Patient Protection/Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. That act was foisted on the American people solely for the purpose of establishing a single-payer system, which is the system that Democrats universally tout and attempt to establish in the U.S.A. Nothing is more "socialist" in nature than the government (taxpayer) paid health care system that leads to gross mismanagement of that care. Americans need look only at the failure that "socialized" medicine has brought the Canadians.
The current appellation of "single payer" is "Medicare for All." The term changes from one campaign season to the next as proponents attempt to engage euphemisms to disguise their actual policy. The other discarded term for this disastrous policy is "socialized medicine." But whether Democrats call the policy "socialized medicine,” "universal health care," "single payer," "government paid health care," or "Medicare for All," they are touting the same failed policy.
Socialist systems have long opposed the "people-oriented" values and policies that the traditional democratic-republican system of the United States of America has long embraced, beginning with the Founding Fathers’ creation of the U.S. Constitution.
The Southern Dialectal Influence
Whether the employment of the term "Democrat" for "Democratic" is deliberate or not, it is not always the case that it is done so for the purpose of insulting the Democratic Party and its members. Many individuals speak a dialect influenced by the speech patterns of the American South. I can testify to the southern dialect influence of my Kentucky and Tennessee relatives while growing up in east-central Indiana. My relatives habitually referred to the Democratic Party as the "Democrat Party" and they were nearly all of the party persuasion. It would not have occurred to them that "Democrat Party" was a slur.
Democrats pilloried former president, George W. Bush—whose dialect, by the way, has been formed by residing during his formative years in the southern state of Texas—when in his 2007 State of the Union address, he referred to the "Democrat majority" and "Democrat Party." Bush then met the attack with a self-effacing joke: "Now look, my diction isn't all that good. I have been accused of occasionally mangling the English language. And so I appreciate you inviting the head of the Republic Party." Hankering for anything with which they can degrade a Republican president, Democrats found it useful to accuse President Trump of insulting the Democrats by employing the term Democrat instead of Democratic.
True Distinction: Lower vs Upper Case
A legitimate distinction between those terms, "Democrat" and "Democratic," lies in the employment of upper and lower letters. The lower-case "democrat" and "democratic" indicate only the nature of the people-oriented type of governing system, which remains a heartfelt staple in the minds of the electorate of the U.S.A.
The upper-case "Democrat" and "Democratic" refer only to the party, a member of that party, or that party’s policies. Thus, Bill Clintons and Barack Obama are both Democrats and democrats, while George W. Bush and Donald Trump are Republicans and democrats.
Interestingly, the term "Republic" instead of "Republican" will likely remain a joking Bush-non-entity, even though linguistically, it might be considered a parallel expression with "Democrat" for "Democratic" though not in terms of definition. The Republican Party remains one still fully dedicated to maintaining the Republic, that is, a republican form of representative government influenced by a democratic people-oriented system. Both American political parties, Democratic and Republican, are democratic and republican. They remain so because the present government system of the U.S.A. is still the " democratic-republic," which the Founding Fathers created at the Constitutional Convention of 1787.
Despite the leftward lurch of the "Democratic Party" in preferring authoritarian policies, the government of the U.S.A. must still be defined as a "democratic-republican" instead of a monarchy, dictatorship, or totalitarian system. Both political parties still generally move within the democratic-republican system. (The Republican administration under President Donald J. Trump worked to reverse many of the socialistic policies from the previous socialist-leaning Obama administration. Those policies, whether applied by a Republican or Democrat, hamper the country's economic growth and the individual freedom of the American electorate.)
Republic or Democracy?
umber of students of American history enjoy putting their expertise on display by defining the original differences between a "republic" and a "democracy." Their pride of knowledge notwithstanding, they are correct that an important difference does exist. The utopian notion of a "democracy" has never worked because rule by "all the people" is impossible. It becomes too time-consuming and unwieldy, and it grinds to a halt any significant government activity. Imagine trying to formulate a bill while waiting to compile the input from 300-plus million citizens! Plus still operative is the old chestnut that under a pure democracy, 51% of the population could vote to kill the remaining 49%. These qualities of a pure democracy led the Framers of the U.S. Constitution to found a republic and not a democracy.
Because such a system of pure democracy remains unworkable, the U.S.A. operates under the current republic-style system of representatives and senators who represent large constituencies for the purpose of legislation and governance. Therefore, modern-day employment of the term " democracy" simply designates a government that is citizen-friendly, that is, people-friendly, and not based on hereditary or unelected dictators.
The government of the United States of America virtually began as a republic and remains so today. Citizens send their representatives to do the work in government that would be impossible for vast numbers of working folks to accomplish. Thus, a significant difference between the terms "democracy" and "republic" has somewhat diminished in modern parlance. American politicians of both major parties speak of "democracy" with great respect as a preferable and valuable form of government. (An exception, such as socialist Bernie Sanders, does come along from time to time, but for the present frame of mind of the American people, socialist policies are likely to be rejected in favor of individual freedom and responsibility.)
The term "democratic" therefore simply suggests that the citizens of a democracy are not "subjects" as in a monarchy, nor are they governed by authoritarians without their consent. American citizens have a voice as to the manner in which they are governed, even as their laws are created through representatives. Because of the actual definition of the term, the American president is always a democrat, whether a Democrat, Republican., or Independent. The American president is always elected by the people, and the American president always works for the American citizens.
The term "republican" simply signifies the fact that the citizens elect their representatives to work for them in the government. A representative government, or republic, therefore relieves the citizens from having to travel to the government site, in order to cast their votes on issues that require a vote. Therefore, as every American president is a democrat, every American president is also always a republican. The American president works within the system that allows its citizens to send representatives to vote for those citizens.
Complicated History of Terminology
The term "Republican" serves as both as an adjective and a noun. However, the term "Democratic" can be used only as an adjective. Linguistically, the citizens of a "democratic" nation are "democrats," not "democratics." The citizens of a "republic" are "republicans" because the term "republics" has never become widely used for individuals; that term signifies only the government type of the nation.
Also, linguistically, the two terms could function similarly for the current major political parties, but they do not: A "Republican" is a member of the "Republican Party," but a "Democrat" is a member of the " Democratic Party." The obverse is unacceptable idiomatically. While a member of the "Democratic Party" is a "Democrat," a member of the " Republican Party" is never a "Republic." That logic is what gave President Bush his "joke" about the "Republic Party."
And the term "Democrat" as a party member is the only usage of that term that the testy Democrats will abide without the "-ic." This state of affairs means that the pugnacious Democrats will attack those who linguistically employ the noun form in place of the adjectival form in venues other than referring to individuals as Democrats, who are members of the "Democratic Party."
The modern usage of the terms for the two major political parties has a complex history; the Founding Fathers were not in favor of "parties," which they saw as "factions," and therefore they failed to anticipate political parties. However, by the time the third president, Thomas Jefferson, was elected, the party system was beginning to take hold.
Thomas Jefferson's political party was labeled the "Democratic-Republican Party." And as one might expect, both current parties are wont to trace their roots, at least partially, back to Jefferson. However, the Democratic Party's actual founding is more accurately traced back to Andrew Jackson in the 1820s; while the Republican Party's founding began even later in 1854 with the abolition of slavery its motivating issue.
Leaders of countries such as Saudi Arabia, China, Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea— Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Xi Jinping, Raúl Castro, Nicolás Maduro, and Kim Jong-Un— are not democrats; they also are not republicans, despite the fact that they may call their nations "republics," as in the "People's Republic of China." Those leaders are not democratically elected and not accountable to the citizens of their countries. They maintain their position and rule through various authoritarian systems.
A Democrat Triviality
The difference between "Democrat Party" and "Democratic Party" remains a trivial distraction concocted by members of the "Democratic Party" solely for the purpose of attacking their opponents. This frivolous complaint focusing on President Bush’s use of the term revealed partisan hacks, deflecting from the important issue of addressing the policy failure, which started the country on a downward spiral economically, after the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006.
Member of all parties would better serve their constituents if they focused on the pros and cons of the issues they claim to endorse. Focusing on trivializes such as the distinction between "Democrat" and "Democratic" remains a waste of time, and amounts to partisan pandering. Voters want discussions about issues such as education, criminal reform, tax policy reform, immigration, foreign policy, and economic policies that affect their ability to live free lives and raise their children in safe environments. Whether a Republican uses a noun or adjective to describe the opposition and its policies has no affect on how those policies ultimately affect the citizens of a free republic.
- Lee Friday. " Universal Health Care in Canada: A Colossal Government Failure." Mises Institute. 04/28/2018. [This is Part Two of a three part series. See Part One and Part Three.]
- George W. Bush. " Remarks to the Democratic Caucus Issues Conference, Williamsburg Virginia." Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, George W. Bush. February 3, 2007.
- ConstitutionFacts.com. Constitutional Convention of 1787. Accessed January 14, 2020.
- Juliet Eilperin and Darla Cameron. " How Trump is rolling back Obama’s legacy." Washington Post. Published March 24, 2017. Updated Jan. 20, 2018.
- Bruce Nappi. "The Role of 'Majority Rule' in the Collapse of Democracy." Medium. February 2016.
- Mark Abadi. " Trump is using a decades-old strategy to sneakily insult Democrats at every turn." Business Insider. Dec 13, 2017.
- Jim Kuhnhenn. " Democrats Win Control of Congress." Associated Press. November 9, 2006.
- Michael Graham. " Note to Democrats: Americans don’t like your policies." Boston Herald. April 16, 2019. Updated: April 16, 2019.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2020 Linda Sue Grimes
Linda Sue Grimes (author) from U.S.A. on January 16, 2020:
Thanks for your comment, James!
Democrats never cease their search for ways to be insulted. The snowflake "cancel culture" infantilizes its members to point of insanity. The current crop of Democrat presidential candidates are all perfect representatives of a reprehensible set of policies that would destroy American culture, weaken foreign relationships, and ultimately blight world politics. Pray we be delivered from their delusion and darkness!
James A Watkins from Chicago on January 16, 2020:
Thank you Linda Sue for yet another excellent article. I enjoyed reading it and I agree with you wholeheartedly.