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Use of the Political Terms: Democrat vs Democratic

Updated on May 6, 2016
Maya Shedd Temple profile image

Essays in politics & spirituality are part of my writing tool-kit. The challenge of supporting a claim strengthens the mind & imagination.

President George W. Bush


President Thomas Jefferson


Dictator Fidel Castro


Dear Leader Kim Jong-un


Trivia as Distraction

Many nit-picking, belligerent Democrats claim they are being attacked when Republicans use the form "Democrat" instead of "Democratic" to describe their party, officials, or policies.

Conservatives, Republicans, and libertarians who intentionally refer to the "Democratic Party" as the Democrat Party sometimes do so because they have observed that the current "Democratic Party" embraces much of communism, socialism, authoritarianism, totalitarianism, along with other qualities that have always stood in opposition to the people-oriented, traditional democratic-republican values of United States of America.

Influence of Southern Dialects
However, some individuals whose speech patterns are driven by southern dialects may say "Democrat" instead of "Democratic" as they discuss that party. For example, those belligerent Democrats searching for something to complain about pounced on President George W. Bush, whose dialect was formed by living in the southern state of Texas, for his pronunciation of the "Democrat majority" and "Democrat Party" in his 2007 State of the Union speech.

President Bush joked about the complaint with a self-effacing response: "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."

Lower vs Upper Case
The legitimate difference in the use of "Democrat" vs "Democratic" lies in the employment of the lower and upper case letters. The term "democratic" refers only to the people-oriented style of government that is so revered by and close to the heart of the American electorate.

The capitalized, upper case "Democrat" or "Democratic" refers only to the party: Lyndon Johnson was both a Democrat and a democrat, while George W. Bush is a Republican and a democrat. (More on this distinction below.)

If, in fact, speakers disdain the use of "Democratic" to refer to the party claiming that name, they, for linguistic reasons, should logically disdain "Republican" for the party by that name. But the term "republic" has failed to garner the attention that "democrat" has done. The non-entitiy humorously referred to by President Bush will remain a non-entity.

However, both American parties are both democratic and republican because the current government is still a "democratic-republic" as formed by the original Founding Fathers. Despite the fact that the "Democratic Party" is adopting totalitarian policies, it can still be considered "democratic-republican" as opposed to monarchial, dictatorial, or totalitarian. Both parties still currently operate within the American system of government, despite the current president's penchant for skirting the legislative branch of government.

Democratic vs Republican
Some students of history enjoy showing off their expertise by pointing out the original difference between a "democracy" and a "republic." A democracy is, in fact, a utopian idea that cannot work; rule by all the people would be impossible, an unwieldy, time-consuming experiment that would clog and grind government to a halt. Modern usage of the term "democracy" simply means that the government is people-friendly, instead of authoritarian or hereditary.

It is true that the U.S. government has always been a republic, where the citizens send representatives to do the work of government for them. The distinction between the terms democracy and republic has diminished in contemporary parlance, as American politicians of both major parties refer to "democracy" with utter respect as a valued and preferred form of government.

The term "democratic" means that the citizens of a democracy are not subject to authoritarian or hereditary rule; the citizens have a say in how they are governed, even though it is done through representatives. In this sense, the American president is always a democrat, because s/he is elected by the people, and s/he works for the people.

The term republican means that the citizens elect representatives to vote for them in the governmental setting, thereby relieving them of having to travel and vote on every policy issue. Thus, every American president is always a republican, because s/he works within the system that allows its citizens to send representatives to vote for them.

Complex History
The term "Republican" is used both as an adjective and a noun. However, the term "Democratic" is used only as an adjective. Linguistically, members of a "democratic" culture/society are all "democrats," not "democratics." Members of a republic are all "republicans" because the term "republics" just never caught on for individuals; the term refers only to the government stye of the nation.

Also, linguistically, the two terms should function that same for the current major political parties, but it does not. While a "Republican" is a member of the "Republican Party," a "Democrat" is a member of the "Democratic Party," and that is the only use that "Democrats" will abide without the -ic. In other words, Democrats will castigate as evil-doers those who use the noun form instead of the adjective form in any other venue other than naming the individuals of the "Democratic Party."

Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Hu Jintao, Fidel and Raul Castro, and Kim Jong-un are not democrats nor are they republicans; they are not elected by and accountable to the people of their countries.

The current terms for the two major political parties have a complex history; the Founding Fathers did not condone and therefore did not anticipate political parties, but by the time the third president, Thomas Jefferson, was elected, the party system was taking hold. Jefferson's party was called the Democratic-Republican Party. And as one might expect, both current parties can trace their roots, at least in part, back to Jefferson.

Trivial Distinctions
It remains a trivial distraction fostered solely by the "Democratic Party" to complain about Republican, conservatives, and libertarians using the alternative term "Democrat" instead of "Democratic." The "Democratic" partisan hack, Paul Begala, raised a stink about President Bush's use of "Democrat" when referring to the Democrat congress—easier argument than addressing the failure of the "Democratic" policies that eventually started the nation on a downward economic spiral.

Other flaming-throwers like those at the Daily Kos like to continue the distraction by pointing to word choice over issues. Despite the fact that the use of the term "Democrat" may be inadvertently applied or influenced by southern speech pattens and not indicate malice on the part of the speaker, such "Democratic" hacks will continue to deflect from policy debate to insure that they can focus on meaningless issues instead of trying to defend their failed policies.

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes


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    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 14 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      I like the term Democrat and think there is enough nit picking by both sides. The party was always called the Democrat party. I grew up in Northwest Indiana and I do remember the Republican party, but never heard of the Democratic party. Great article, and I enjoyed reading. Stella

    • Maya Shedd Temple profile image

      Linda Sue Grimes 14 months ago from Spring Hill, TN

      Thanks, Stella. You're correct--most politicians at one time or another descend into "nit-picking," except for my beloved Libertarians, of course! I grew up in east-central Indiana in a household/extended family of Kentuckians, so I heard only "Democrat Party" too. Glad you enjoyed the hub!


      Linda Sue Grimes (Maya Shedd Temple)

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 14 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      This was a great article and hammers the message that Democrats (aka liberals, progressives, and the left) are obsessive about being offended. Their hairsplitting is ridiculous. I like that you pointed out that their ideology tends towards socialism, communism, etc. They wrap it in a glittery package using words like tolerance, diversity, inclusion, sensitivity and go ballistic when you have an opinion different from their ideology. They're blind to the fact that their diversity and tolerance only extends to those who agree with them. Oh dear, I just got on my soapbox. Great hub.

    • Maya Shedd Temple profile image

      Linda Sue Grimes 14 months ago from Spring Hill, TN

      Wow, Lori, you offer a great addendum to my Hub. You've certainly got the Democrat Party pegged correctly. Glad you got up on your soapbox. I know we both could go on and on about Democrat, so-called liberal/progressive, hypocrisy. Let me just mention one other issue: "women's health" for left-wingers means abortion and birth control. Such a pitiful ideology.

      Thanks for offering your insight, Lori. Have a blessed day!

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