Do we have any actual data showing that the term hurts Democrats? Particularly given that, in fact, the proper plural for Democratic people is “Democrats?” I’m not doubting that the right’s intentions are malicious, but this bit of schoolyard-style word manipulation seems far below anything that will actually impinge on the electorate’s preferences and sensibilities.
I disagree. Very strongly. Primarily, this is not a question of Luntz-style linguistic manipulation, but a question of basic dignity and honor. It related to Josh Marshall’s “bitch-slap theory” of electoral politics. The key charge against liberals is that we’re weak. Weak on Communism. Weak on crime. Weak on terrorism. Weak-minded, soft-hearted, weak, weak, weak. Well, what’s the key sign of weakness: a person who won’t stand up for themselves.
To call someone by something other than the name he wishes to be called by is rude. To make a mistake is forgivable, but to persist — deliberately — in declining to use your adversary’s proper name is rude and insulting. It’s not a big deal unless you take standing up for yourself to be a big deal. When Democrats go on TV and let a conservative get away with the phrase “Democrat Party” it’s signaling that Democrats are weak. They’re too weak to stand up for themselves. They’re too weak to have a sense of group solidarity or party loyalty. They’re inclined to let things slide. They don’t want to make a scene. They don’t like to have a fight. They’re weak. Is a political party that can’t even protect its own name really going to keep America safe?
What’s more, it establishes the conservative media as a truth-free zone. Presumably, if CNN cared about accuracy it would not employ people are regular commentators who can’t correctly name America’s older and larger political party. Nor would ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, C-SPAN, NPR or any other media outlet. Yes, yes it would initially seem petty and bizarre of all these outlets to insist that people either name the party correctly or else not appear. But the fact that this would seem petty and bizarre is the point: “Democratic” is the correct word and this isn’t an obscure point. That everyone lets conservatives say “Democrat” over and over again is part of establishing mainstream acceptance of the idea that the conservative media operates in an accuracy free zone. They’re propagandists and that’s okay by the MSM — no need to get things right!