Newt’s legacy lives on with ‘Democrat Party’

REUTERS/Mark Avery

I laugh to myself when I see the term “Democrat” used as an adjective, or as part of the proper name of one of the nation’s two major political parties.

It’s a holdover from an earlier era when Republicans took control of Congress for the first time in 40 years. You remember the landmark Contract With America election of 1994, right? Of course you do!

A then-young GOP bomb thrower, Newt Gingrich, led the insurgency that elected Republicans to the House and Senate that year. The GOP slate took down plenty of heavyweights, including House Speaker Tom Foley and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jack Brooks.

Gingrich essentially coined the usage of the term “Democrat” in a way that sought to cast the other party as a sort of foreign element.

Democrats belong to the “Democratic Party.” Gingrich, who became speaker of the House in 1995, kept referring to the party as the “Democrat Party,” a term that just doesn’t roll off the way the proper term does.

Well, Gingrich left the speakership and the House after the 1998 midterm election and the failed impeachment of President Clinton. He ended up with his own personal baggage — the affair he was having with a staffer while married to his second wife — that took him out; it was one of the more ironic political downfalls in modern U.S. history, given the nature of the charges leveled against Bill Clinton.

However, Newt’s branding of Democrats and their political party lives on. Donald Trump refers to the Democratic Party as the Democrat Party; so do his allies in Congress; so do critics of this blog, by gum, use that term.

It used to annoy me, given my understanding of the motive behind its use: the demonization of a great political party. I’ve gone beyond the point of annoyance. I am now mildly amused.

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