Why do conservatives — chiefly Republicans — continue to use the term “Democrat” in a way that some listeners, such as me, find vaguely insulting?
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders today has used the term “Democrat” as an adjective. She refers to “Democrat members of Congress” who, of course, do things that Republicans dislike.
OK, this can be seen as a silly point. I don’t see it that way.
Republicans began using “Democrat” as an adjective when Republican U.S. Rep. Newt Gingrich launched the Contact With American campaign to take control of Congress in 1994.
They ceased referring to members of the other party as being “Democratic” lawmakers. They say “Democrat” because it’s jarring to the ear in ways that are a bit difficult to explain. Plus, they no doubt view their colleagues on the other side as anything but “democratic” in their world view.
Thus, this new use of a long-standing word has taken root. It’s deeper than ever in this divisive period in our political history.
And, oh yes. It still rankles me.