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democrat, adj.


Pronunciation: /ˈdɛməʊkræt/

1. An adj. that isn’t one used by conservative members of the Republic Party to sound deliberately and defiantly ignorant because that’s something to be proud of. Not at all related to these adj. rare examples:

1817 S. T. Coleridge Biographia Literaria I. x. 186 He…talked of purpose in a democrat way in order to draw me out.

1890 Spectator 15 Nov. 676 Whether a little farmer…is going to rule the Democrat Party in America.

2. An adj. that isn’t one used by conservative members of the Republic Party to make SEK want to spit nails into the brick wall against which he’s bashing his head forever.

3. An adj. that isn’t one that all the “cool kids” are using because slang is awesome and language changes and only old squares are interested in “conserving” the culture of their forebears because that wouldn’t be unintentionally ironic and what would members of the modern Republic Party be if not unwittingly ironic?

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  • SEK

    This is what happens when you mark essays while watching Fox.

  • Murc

    I like to go for the double-reverse when people deply this word around me. I play dumb.

    “Democrat Party? What’s that? I’m unaware of a political party by that name; they can’t be very popular. Some sort of regional third party, like the Conservative Party in New York State?”

    It puts them in the position of either snottily saying something like “You knew what I meant” (to which you can cooly reply “I really don’t”) or of actually coming out and admitting they got the name of the party wrong on purpose. There’s no GOOD way out of that that doesn’t make them look really dumb.

    • cpinva

      i think you missed the point:

      There’s no GOOD way out of that that doesn’t make them look really dumb.

      see: ignorant, defiantly

  • sparks

    Too many thats.

    • SEK

      I’m parroting the OED style, which does the same.

      [But fine, in the interest of The Funny, I will cave.]

      • sparks

        It’s a fault I have had with my writing. I’ve been criticized for it so I am painfully aware of any overuse. I didn’t recognize the OED parody, been years since I had reason to use it.

  • Oh yeah. Huge pet peeve of mine. Someone linked me to an article on the roots of this cutesy little practice awhile back. I wish I could remember where it was. Was it in The New Yorker?

    • S_noe

      Hertzberg? either way a lovely piece.

      • Anna in PDX

        Nice article!

  • Manta

    However, isn’t it also having a useful role, i.e. distinguish between ideas associated to democracy (e.g. democratic institutions) from ones associated to the party (e.g. democrat platform)? There should be also a corresponding one for the other party: I propose to keep “republican” for the system of government, and “plutocrat” for the party.

    • Capitalization serves there, as does the word “party”: “Democratic platform”, “Democratic Party platform” versus “democratic values”.

      • Manta

        In writing, you have a point (but I wonder how many people do actually follow this convention), but talking?

        • S_noe

          I mostly go with WF Buckley, quoted here:

          Granted there are diffculties, as when one desires to describe a “democratic” politician, and is jolted by possible ambiguity.
          But English does that to us all the time, and it’s our job to get the correct meaning transmitted without contorting the language.

          Not in every single analogous situation, but certainly this one.

        • S_noe

          Also, yeah, what Djur said: insert “party” after “democratic,” and bob’s your uncle.

  • Jameson Quinn

    …to make SEK want to spit nails into the brick wall against which he’s bashing his head forever.

    Every time you let them know you’re annoyed, they score PancakePoints, redeemable for fantasies in which they actually win arguments while smothered in maple syrup. You have to be more Zen about it.

    • SEK

      Well, I’m not nailing the nails I’ve spit into the wall with my head … yet.

  • cpinva

    i’m guessing there’s a porn movie in this:

    “redeemable for fantasies in which they actually win arguments while smothered in maple syrup.”

    • Malaclypse

      Rule 34 implies there already are porn movies of it.

      • SEK


        • Manta

          If not, you could propose your students to make one as a project.

          • In his office, of course.

        • Malaclypse

          I didn’t want to verify. Mini-Mal was still awake.

      • Hogan

        Dude, it’s not Guideline 34.

  • Gareth Wilson

    New Zealand isn’t particularly conservative, but our news stories about American politics always use “Democrat” as an adjective in the same way the Republicans do. It might be an honest attempt to avoid confusion with small-d “democratic”.

    • Murc

      Really? The New Zealand media refers to the ‘Democrat Party?’

      Because if they do, they might be even worse than ours.

      • Gareth Wilson

        Usually, yeah. I really don’t think there’s any partisan motivation behind it, just confusion over the name.

        • Murc

          I don’t buy that any self-respecting media outlet could be confused enough to consistently get the name of one of the most important political parties in the world WRONG. Deliberately wrong, sure. Accidentally wrong? I don’t buy it.

          • Gareth Wilson

            Now that I think it over, it’s more that they refer to “Democrat senators”, or “Democrat policies”, not the actual name of the party.

    • Anonymous

      Gareth, no, it’s because they’re mostly now owned by the same media shitheels that run the media in the US (and own the Republican Party)

  • Green Caboose

    The use of the term “Democrat Party” is a key indicator of a closet wingnut. There are other key tells – like if you find out that person bought a lot of gold 2-3 years ago.

    • STH

      Yes, I’ve found it to be handy a few times when somebody says something about being an undecided/independent voter or a libertarian, then lets something slip about the “Democrat Party.” There’s a guy on Metafilter who affects a “just asking questions” pose, but the “Democrat” as adjective thing gives him away.

    • vogon pundit

      This. I find it’s a pretty reliable cultural signifier.

  • Ian

    In Canada, a members of our socialist party would call herself a New Democrat, or a member of the NDP.

    I know the Republicans are just doing it to get your goat, but why not own it? What’s wrong with calling yourself a democrat?

    • Jean-Michel

      Not a single Democrat in the U.S. has a problem with being called a Democrat. The issue is using “Democrat” as an adjective, as in “Democrat Party,” which is not the party’s name and which is used by wingnuts to assert that the Democratic Party isn’t actually democratic (that is, it’s a party of people who call themselves “Democrats,” not a democratic party).

  • Data Tutashkhia

    Second language, so please bare with me: ‘socialist party’, ‘communist party’, ‘fascist party’, ‘nationalist party’ – why suddenly ‘democratic‘? What’s the story? And why be annoyed?

    • Gareth Wilson

      Greek versus Latin, I think.

    • Jameson Quinn

      Also, sorry for the pedantry, but it’s “bear with me”. As in, bear a burden.

      • rea

        Oh, bear with me [rapidly putting clothes back on].

        • Anonymous

          rea, stop trying to seduce the Grizzlies (again)

    • FLRealist

      Because the actual name of the party is the Democratic Party.

      • Data Tutashkhia

        Thanks, but it’s like the man said: ‘democrat’ doesn’t work as an adjective, and e.g. ‘socialist’ does.

        It’s odd, though. Maybe it’s time for this language to evolve, and start using ‘democrat’ as adjective too.

        • Anonymous

          The fact that enough people with enough determination can make a language evolve and a usage seem normal is a good thing un general, even ir abad un this instan e. Gah! Spañish autocorrect attacks!

        • DrDick

          Again, the problem is not the use of “Democrat” as an adjective per se, but rather to wrongly use it as an adjective to describe the Democratic Party and its policies. The latter is, as Jean-Michel points out upthread, and attempt to falsely paint the Democrats as not democratic.

          • Data Tutashkhia

            Right, but if the language somehow corrected itself to render
            adj. 2. democrat = democratic
            just like it has socialist=socialistic, then the issue would’ve been resolved, wouldn’t it?

            Maybe all you need to do is to accept the ‘Democrat party’, feel proud of it, and everything will turn out fine, no? I mean, it’s not an insult, if you are not insulted…

            • DrDick

              So if I call you a clueless motherfucker, you will not be insulted?

              • Data Tutashkhia

                Of course not, my friend, since this is what’s known as “gratuitous insult”. Would be silly to feel insulted.

                You, on the other hand… I’m sorry to say, but your usage of “So” at the beginning of your sentence is clearly indicative of a diminished mental capacity.

                • DrDick

                  clearly indicative of a diminished mental capacity.

                  I am not the one saying that phrases deliberately intended to insult and demean are not insulting.

              • “Clueless motherfucker” is inherently insulting.

                “Democrat” is not. I call myself a Democrat all the time. It is only insulting in a certain context, with a particular usage.

                And yet, that doesn’t wrap up all the loose ends. We cannot make the McCarthyite usage of Democrat-as-an-adjective disappear. Language is embedded in culture, Data, and that particular bit of language has baggage – baggage that the right is not going to abandon, and allow the slur to lose its potency.

                • Data Tutashkhia

                  Fair enough, Joe. If its insulting property is already established, widely understood, set in stone, then it is what it is.

                  I got the impression that it’s still quite fluid: you could hear ‘Democrat party’ from an average person who doesn’t mean to insult. But then, I haven’t lived in the US for over 10 year, so what do I know.

        • The language has already evolved. The usage of Democrat as an adjective already has an established meaning – as an insulting alternative to the correct name of the Democratic Party.

          I’ll note that the word small-r republic is never used as an adjective, either.

  • waverby

    I’m just profoundly annoyed because I’m British and the GOP has ruined a perfectly good word meaning someone who does not want a royal family.

  • Anna in PDX

    I am always amazed that this pettiness is used at all – in order to make the OTHER side look bad? It really reflects more on the ones using the term with this sort of gleeful kindergartner attitude.

    When I was a 5 year old, I didn’t like being called “Anna Banana” but if I were in politics now and my opponent called me that, I would think that it would be more pathetic on their part than hurtful to me.

  • Epicurus

    To me, this usage simply spells ignorance. I know these thugs think it’s funny to mispronounce the word, and that it’s a veiled insult. It’s not; it’s an insult to English grammar! It’s nearly as bad as one former President’s inability to say the word “nuclear” correctly. (In all fairness to him, FSM knows why, Jimmy Carter committed the same error.) I guess in the end, it’s the old rule; don’t feed the trolls. Rest assured that they are ignorant and proud of that fact.

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