What’s in an adjective? ‘Democrat Party’ label on the rise

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Two days before the attack on the U.S. Capitol, Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano, a Republican, said supporters of the then president’s election fraud allegations, Donald Trump, were essentially in a “death match with the Democratic Party.” . “

A day later, right-wing activist Alan Hostetter, a staunch Trump supporter known to oppose California virus-inspired stay-at-home orders, urged gatherers in Washington to ‘put the fear of God in the cowards, the traitors, the RINOs. , the Communists of the Democratic Party.

The shared grammatical construction – the incorrect use of the name “democrat” as an adjective – was far from the most shocking thing in the two men’s statements. But he identified them as members of the same tribe, with conservatives seeking to define the opposition in demeaning language.

Amid bipartisan calls to back down extreme partisanship after the insurgency, the intentional misuse of “democrat” as an adjective remains in almost universal use among Republicans. Powered by conservative media, he has also rallied to extreme right-wing elements energized by the Trump presidency.

Academics and supporters disagree on the meaning of the pun. Is it a harmless political tactic intended to annoy Republican opponents, or a maliciously subtle vilification of one of America’s two main political parties that further divides the nation?

Thomas Patterson, professor of political communications at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, said that using “democrat” as an adjective gives a “little twist” of the knife with every use because it irritates Democrats, but sees it as little. more only that.

“It is,” he said, “just another piece in a big kettle bubbling with animosities that are over there.”

Others disagree. Deliberately mispronouncing the official name of the Democratic Party and equating it with political ideas that are not democratic goes beyond mere incivility, said Vanessa Beasley, associate professor of communications at Vanderbilt University who studies presidential rhetoric . She said that creating short descriptions of people or groups is a way to dehumanize them.

In short: language matters.

“The idea is to reduce it to that name and blur it out, so you can say they’re bad people – and my party, the people who use the term, are going to be the defenders of democracy,” ” she said.

To those who see the discussion as an exercise in political correctness, Susan Benesch, executive director of the Dangerous Speech Project, said to take a deeper look.

“It’s just two little letters – i and c – added to the end of a word, isn’t it?” she said. “But the small difference between the two terms, linguistically or grammatically, does not protect against a large difference in meaning and impact of the language.”

In the “Stop the Steal” rallies that emerged to support Trump’s baseless claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, construction was everywhere. Republican National Committee Chairman Ronna McDaniel accused “Democratic lawyers and rogue election officials” of “unprecedented power grab” related to the election. Protesters for the president’s baseless cause reflected his language.

After Republican MK Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was removed from her House committees for espousing sometimes dangerous conspiracy theories, she tweeted: “In this tyrannical Democratic government, conservative Republicans haven’t their say in the committees. ”

Trump’s lawyers frequently used the construction during his second arraignment …

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