Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I am a Democratic Democrat

(originally posted on Turn Maine Blue, I decided to bring it here as well. The "yesterdays" and such are a bit off because the meeting was on Sunday, but I decided to keep the diary as is. Enjoy!)

Always amusing to hear from the Christian Civic League. Michael Hein was in attendance at the Democratic State Committee meeting yesterday, to pick up some fresh photographs for the Record, their online publication. They did an article on the subject.

Due to our party's belief in inclusiveness and democracy, we did not call the meeting into executive session as we were permitted to do in order to exclude him. Instead, people were merely annoyed by the volume of flashes from his camera.

And the best picture he got of Rita Moran, his primary target (I am merely secondary, it seems) was the side of her head. All those flashes and that's all he managed, heh.

What got my attention, though, is that he picked up our press release, and cited sections of it in the article he wrote. There was one small change, however: he took all references to the adjective "Democratic", and replaced them with the noun, "Democrat".

Now, one can ask, why would someone do something that silly?

As any Democrat knows, we are members of the "Democratic Party". We are not members of the "Democrat Party". The reason for the party's name has lost some of its old power over time, as the country became what it is today.

Originally, when the party was formed in Jefferson's day, it was known as the "Democratic Republicans". You can see the meaning behind this- members of the party wanted a republic governed by the people, and not in name only. If you were a Democratic Republican, it was because you aligned yourself with popular government.

Compare this to the other party of the day- the Federalists. They were the party of the aristocrat- strong federal government, to hell with "states' rights" (then not a code word for racial discrimination). This party consisted of the rich- bankers, lawyers, landowners... not the sort that wants the rabble in charge.

Small-D democrats versus aristocrats. The will of the people versus the will of the rich and powerful. Thus the beginning of the name.

So, what happens when the "ic" is removed? Depends on why you're doing it. Some blame it on changes in the language throughout the years. Others blame it on not knowing why the party is named what it is in the first place. But there is a much more simple reason why this has come to exist, and that is that the Republicans like to use it as a slur against us.

The first time this began to emerge was under Herbert Hoover's administration. At this point, the small-D democratic principles of belief that had caused the party's naming were no longer in the forefront. People forgot what a "democrat" was, they'd lived under democratic government for so long. The reason in Hoover's day that they used it? They felt that Democrats did not represent democracy, but instead a form of voter control. They weren't entirely wrong, Tammany Hall certainly ruled New York for over a hundred years.

Bush tries to brush it off as an "oops". But Rush Limbaugh has been quoted similarly... he believes the party does not promote democracy, but socialism (or, as "socialism" is code for now, "communism"). Many Democrats are indeed somewhat socialist in their beliefs, because they feel the safety net in our country exists to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Who wanted this? The people, after the Great Depression. That is why our social programs exist today- they were, and continue to be, the will of the people.

Democrats, as Eric Mehnert said just yesterday at the Special Meeting, are the party of the people. Michael Hein must have missed that part of the speeches. Remember that the next time someone calls you a member of the Democrat Party.

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