A politician’s image is as finely crafted as a pink flamingo made of hand-blown glass, so when something is repeated by a politician or a political party, there can be no question that it’s being done for a reason. There are no oversights; how the politician or political party is perceived is too important.
That’s why it’s no accident that President Bush and his Republican counterparts occasionally refer to the Democratic party as the “Democrat party.” They have made the conscious decision to drop the -ic when referring to their political counterparts, so that leaves us to determine the reason.
I doubt that the answer will come from Karl Rove’s new blockbuster tell-all account of the current administration since indications are that the history is considered as malleable as play dough, so let me take a guess–from the perspective of language, of course. Our system is a democratic one, and as such, the word democratic has a very positive connotation in the eyes of Americans. The goal of changing the reference to his political opponents from Democratic Party to Democrat Party is to attempt separate their opponents from something positive.
It’s subtle, and this isn’t the most heinous abuse of language I’ve ever seen, especially since it makes it seem as if the speaker just made a verbal mistake since we all know that it’s the Democratic Party. It is, however, a good reminder that we need to listen closely to the subtlety of language.
Paul’s book–Literally, the Best Language Book Ever